Gougères: French Cheese Puffs

1/2 cup (125ml) water
3 tablespoons (40g) butter, salted or unsalted, cut into cubes
1/4 teaspoon salt
big pinch of chile powder, or a few turns of freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 cup (70g) flour
2 large eggs
12 chives, finely-minced (or 1 to 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme)
3/4 cup (about 3 ounces, 90g) grated cheese, preferably Gruyere

Preheat the oven to 425F (220C.) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Heat the water, butter, salt, and chile or pepper in a saucepan until the butter is melted.
Dump in the flour all at once and stir vigorously until the mixture pulls away from the sides into a smooth ball. Remove from heat and let rest two minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring quickly to make sure the eggs don’t ‘cook.’ The batter will first appear lumpy, but after a minute or so, it will smooth out. (You can transfer the mixture to a bowl before adding to eggs to cool the dough, or do this step in a food processor or electric mixer, if you wish.)
Add about 3/4s of the grated cheese and the chives, and stir until well-mixed. Scrape the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a wide plain tip and pipe the dough into mounds, evenly-spaced apart, about a tablespoon size.. Top each puff with a bit of the remaining cheese, the pop the baking sheet in the oven.Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 375F (190C) and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until they’re completely golden brown.

Adapted from David Lebovitz

 

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