Blue Cheese and Chive Gougères

Gougères. Pronounced goo/zheres. Does that clear things up for you? It’s French for deliciously puffy cheese balls.

These little puffs are the perfect pass around for your next cocktail party or heck, bake up a batch for an evening on the couch watching your favorite flick. They’re extremely pop-able. The tangy blue cheese and mild hint of onion from the chive is a lovely combination.

*Note: Make it sweet or savory – once you have a handle on making this airy choux (pronounced “shoe”) dough the possibilities are endless!

Yield: approx. 24 walnut sized puffs
Equipment: medium saucepan, pastry bag, wooden spoon, pastry brush

½ cup water
Splash of Brandy
¼ cup (1/2 stick ) unsalted butter, cubed
¾ t freshly ground pepper
¼ t salt
2/3 cup AP flour
3 room temperature large eggs
1/2 cup crumbled Danish blue cheese
3 T chopped chives

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and ready a pastry bag. Crack the eggs in a bowl and allow them to come to room temperature.

Combine the first five ingredients in a medium sized saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat while stirring. As soon as it begins to boil stir in the flour and reduce the heat to medium-low (don’t let it boil for an extended period of time – you don’t want any of the liquid to evaporate). Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the dough forms into large clumps and a film forms along the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and cool for about 5 minutes.The trick with choux dough is having the correct amount of egg. You don’t want it too stiff or too runny – you want it just so (how’s that for specific?). Begin by adding one egg. Stir vigorously to incorporate. Do the same with the next egg. The dough will be a little more flexible at this point. You most likely will only need to add half of the final egg to make the dough a little softer. Lightly beat the egg and add just a tablespoon worth. Mix that in followed by the cheese and chives. The dough will be sticky. Transfer it to the pastry bag and cut a fairly large hole at the tip. Pipe walnut sized rounds onto the prepared baking sheet pan. Lightly brush the tops with the reserved beaten egg.Bake for about 30 minutes or until the gougeres are golden brown, dry and puffy. Test to see if they’re done by poking a hole in one (yes that means sacrificing one for the greater good)– the inside should be hollow and dry.If there’s any doughy-ness left keep on baking or else you’ll have soggy puffs…and nobody wants that.