Actually, on second thought, don't call me puff daddy. These beautiful cheese puffs, called gougères in French cooking, are as easy as they are delicious. The buttery, eggy dough (called Pâte à Choux) is the same one we used for the blue cheese fritters, so if the first minute of the video looks like a repeat, it's not!
There's a French bakery called Tartine in my neighborhood that makes these amazing extra-large gougères studded with black pepper and fresh thyme leaves. It's like my favorite thing ever, and I can't believe it took me this long to make them myself.
Usually, gruyere cheese is used, but I had some very sharp farmhouse cheddar in the fridge, so I decided to use that. As long as you are using a very sharp, full-flavored cheese I don't think you can go wrong. I love gougères with gruyere, but I think the extra-sharp cheddar was just as good, and maybe better, at least to my palette.
Since gougères really don’t take much time to prep, and only 15 minutes or so to bake, they are great appetizers for a party. They're okay after they sit for a while, but if you really want to treat your guests, make them in small batches a few times during the party so people can taste them warm.
One of the greatest smells in the world comes from that glorious, cheesy wisp of steam that escapes a freshly baked gougère as it's torn open. Which reminds me, make twice as much as you think you'll need – these are very addictive and will turn normally well-mannered guests into out-of-control gluttons! Enjoy.
Ingredients (makes about 12 small gougère):
1/2 cup water
4 tbsp butter
1/2 cup flour
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup grated sharp cheese (cheddar, gruyere, etc.)
1 tsp freshly picked thyme leaves
1 tsp freshly coarsely ground black pepper