Brian Bargsten Talks Celebratory Wines

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Cheryl talks to Arroyo Vino’s Brian Bargsten about celebratory wines

Cheryl’s Gougères

Ethereal cheese puffs, gougère are made from pâte a choux, a classic French pastry dough of boiling water and butter into which flour is added so that it cooks. The dough is then lightened with eggs. It is used for cream puffs and other dishes, both savory and sweet. The quality of the Gruyère is critical to your success. Buy the cheese somewhere that allows you to taste it, and get the one with the fullest flavor, likely the one with the greatest age.

Makes 2 dozen or more cheese puffs

1 stick unsalted butter, cut in small chunks

1 cup water

1 teaspoon salt

¾ cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon dry mustard

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

¾ cup finely grated aged Gruyère cheese plus additional for sprinkling over the puffs

2 tablespoons finely grated aged Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese, or other aged dry cheese

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease and flour two baking sheets.

Combine the butter, water, and salt in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. As soon as the mixture boils, remove the pan from the heat and immediately dump the flour and mustard into it. Beat vigorously with a large spoon until a dough forms and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Return the pan to low heat and continue beating for 1 minute, to dry the dough out a bit.

Transfer the hot dough to the bowl of a stand electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on medium-high, mix for about 30 seconds to let steam escape from the batter. Then gradually add the eggs, and then the Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses. The batter will be fairly stiff, but elastic and sticky.

Spoon the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a plain 1/2-inch tip. (Don’t overfill the bag; rather add more to the bag as there is room.) Squeeze out small mounds, about 2 inches around, and space them 1 to 2 inches apart.

Sprinkle the tops with an additional couple of tablespoons of Gruyere cheese. (The dough can sit at this point for up to an hour, before baking.) Bake in the center of the oven 20 to 23 minutes, until perfectly golden brown. Do not open the oven door for at least 20 minutes or the steam created by the puffs will escape. Sample a test puff, pulling it apart. It should be crisp outside and creamy and moist inside. Serve immediately. They must be eaten warm for best flavor and texture.