pastry

Gougère aka Savoury Cheesey Choux

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Here comes Choux part 3! Are you sick of choux yet? You can’t be! There are just so many ways to enjoy a good choux. This time, with cheese. 😀

So I was invited to a baby shower. I am really not a shower of any kind person, I never know what to say and usually there are people I don’t know at the shower and I get super anxious. … ya so I tend to avoid these things. The expected mother this time is a lovely lady and I haven’t seen her for a long time, so I decide I will overcome my fear of shower and attend with a treat. I mean, it is exactly the kinda occasions that I bake to slightly impress.

Originally, I was going to do colourful cupcakes. You know, it is very shower-appropriate and also she loves rainbow stuff. I thought I can make some sort of unicorn colour cupcakes, it’d be amazing!….

Well. At least 3 other people also planned to make cupcakes. Ya know, cupcakes, very popular with showers. So I have to come up with plan B. And with my recent choux-craze the next idea was to make choux buns. Or like maybe an actual croquembouce as a centrepiece even?! That was a good line of thought, except, everyone was supposed to bring something to eat to the shower. And my previous experience suggests people tend to bring more sweet things than savoury. So you ended up with a sugar high and desperately want some chips or something.

Savoury choux is the obvious answer.
The savoury choux recipe is almost identical to your regular choux, you just don’t add sugar and instead add herb or some kinds and sprinkle the top with cheese. The recipe calls for bread flour, … I am guessing you could use regular AP flour but I quite like that they didn’t grow massive and split, so maybe there is advantage of using bread flour instead. They are called gougeres. In my head both Gs are hard Gs, and it sounds very funny.  I am wrong though the second one is soft G so it sounds more like gou-jere. Or when you are shy and don’t want to pretend to say a French word, I told everyone that these are “cheese puffs”.

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Mix mix mix. This is my favourite part of making choux. Seeing it goes into a loose mess and come back together as a nice glossy dough is just so satisfying!

Smoked salmon + some variation of cream cheese is a popular filling suggestion for these little puffs. I knew there are a number of vegetarians in attendance so I had to go for something vegetarian. In the end, I combined ideas from a few recipe and went with a herb-y cream cheese filling with sauté mushroom.  They were a tasty treat. I’d eat a lot of them at parties.

Was the shower a social success for me? Well. The gougeres were well received. I not in good form at the party though. Er.

Cue non-baking related anecdote: I recently got my driver’s license. Like, at the end of November. Having managed to not drive in North America for two decades because I have some serious anxiety issue. >.> Anyway, I try to drive a bit regularly to places I am super familiar with (like work) so I drove that day in order not to carry a tray of delicate baked goods on transit. A good section of a major road on my route was closed that day and I had to find alternate routes with extra busy and impatient traffic. I was so frazzled by the time I got to the shower I just forgot how to socialize like a normal person. >.> Ya, I tried but I didn’t do too well. WELL. I didn’t say I will impress anyone to any degree on social skills, I aim only to impress people with some baked goods. SO THAT WORKED OUT for me.

[/end unrelated anecdote]

So yes. Make gougeres. They are very tasty. Sorry my cooking instruction is a bit slapdashy, I am a very slapdash person when it comes to not-baking.

For the Gougere: (Recipe from good ol’ Paul Hollywood)
100g Unsalted Butter, cubed
pinch of Salt
300ml Water
130g Bread Flour
1 Tbsp Chopped Thyme (I used dried ones, if you use fresh ones, use more)
4 Eggs, beaten and room temperature
25g Grated Parmesan Cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 200°c/400°f

2. In a pan, add water, butter and salt, heat it gently till the butter is melted. Then bring to a boil. Add the flour and give it a good mix until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat.

3. Let it cool a little bit. Now add the eggs a little bit at a time and mix into the flour mixture. Let each egg gets fully incorporated into the mixture before adding more. This will take elbow grease, and you may not actually need all of the eggs though you should be pretty close. The mixture when ready, should be stiff enough to pipe and hold its shape and glossy.

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4. Put the mixture into a piping bag. On a baking sheet lined with baking paper, pipe little blobs of the mixture. They will grow about three times the size. So space accordingly!

5. If you have little stiff peaks on the dough, use a wet finger and press them down. Sprinkle cheese on top of the dough blobs. I think I have grated my cheese a bit too fine, a bit coarser is completely fine. Also, you can use any hard aged cheeses like Swiss, Gruyère, Cheddar, all up to you.

6. Bake for 30 minutes. Keep an eye on them. If you are doing two trays, swap them after 30 minutes. They should be about the right colour after 30 minutes, I reduced the temperature down to 180°c/350°f to dry them further for another 10 minutes or so. Take one out of the oven and cut it open and check to see if it has dried inside. If not, keep them in the oven and check every few minutes until they are done.

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7. When they are all done, remove from oven and let cool on a rack. If you make ahead of time, store them in an airtight container. If they become soft the next day, put them back into the oven at 175°c/350°f for around 5 minutes to crisp them back up. They are good to eat as is, or you can fill them for extra fanciness.

For the filling: 
1 Block of Cream Cheese(8oz), soften to room temperature
Chives, finely chopped
5-6 Mushrooms, sliced

1. With an electric mixer or a stand mixer, whip the cream cheese till fluffy. Add in the chives and let it mix lightly. Either fill the piping bag with this mixture, or transfer to a bowl.

2. In a pan, add a splash of oil. Throw in the sliced mushroom. Add in a pinch of salt, and saute the mushroom until lightly brown and no more liquid coming out from mushroom. Remove from the pan and let cool, then cut them into smaller chunks for easy filling. Or you can also leave them whole.

3. Slice the gougere open, either pipe in a dollop of cream cheese filling, or grab a knife and spread a generous amount of the filling. Spoon the mushroom to top the cream cheese filling. If you have time, I think some extra caramelized onions would also make an extra tasty topping.

 

 

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