RECIPE TITLE "Cumin Cheese Puffs (GOUGÈRES AU CUMIN) "
Excerpted from: Chocolate and Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen
Makes about 40 gougères Chilling time: 30 minutes easy
While I love eating out with friends, having them at home is something else entirely: the atmosphere is more intimate, you get to choose your own musical ambiance, and you're free to partake in the kind of conversation you wouldn’t dream of letting anyone overhear in a crowded bistro. Of course, that means no eavesdropping for you, either, but you can't win on all counts.
Whether you are inviting friends for a simple apéritif, putting together an impromptu dinner, planning a more elaborate menu, or throwing a party, this section offers tips and recipes to make the occasion stress–free and successful.
The classic version calls for cheese as the only flavoring, but I like to use cumin in mine: this complements the fruitiness of the cheese remarkably well and adds a welcome piquancy. Serve with an apértif drink, or use the same batter to make large gougères (about 3 inches in diameter) and serve as a first course, with a salad.
• 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
• 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
• 1 cup flour, sifted
• 4 large eggs
• 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds or 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
• 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Comté or Gruyère, about 5 ounces (substitute a good Swiss cheese)
1. Measure all the ingredients before you start. Combine the butter, salt, and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium–low heat. Remove from heat, add the flour all at once, and stir quickly with a wooden spoon unitl well blended. Return the pan to medium–low heat and keep stirring until the mixture forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pan.
2. Let cool for 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, stirring well between each addition, until incorporated. (What you have just made is a pâte à choux.) Sprinkle with cumin and pepper and fold in the cheese. The batter will be thick. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or up to a day.
3. Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the batter from the fridge, and use two teaspoons to shape small balls of batter (about 1 inch in diameter) that you will plop onto the baking sheet, leaving an inch of space between each. If you have to work in batches, cover the batter and return it to the fridge.
4. Bake for 20 minutes, until puffy and golden — however much you want to peek inside, do not open the oven door during the first 10 minutes of baking, or the gougères will not rise well. Turn off the oven, open the door just a crack, and leave the gougères in for another 5 minutes. (This helps prevent an abrupt temperature change, which would cause the gougères to deflate and nobody wants that.) Transfer to a cooling rack for 5 minutes and serve warm, or let cool and serve at room temperature.
NOTE You can freeze the gougères for up to a month and reheat them (no thawing necessary) in a 350°F oven for 8 minutes. They won't be as moist as freshly baked ones, but they are very convenient to have on hand for unexpected guests.
VARIATIONS Replace the cumin with caraway seeds, rosemary, or paprika, or omit the spices altogether.
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