Emmental Gougères (from The Skinny French Kitchen, Eastwood 2011)
Choux has a bad reputation. It is the lion of patisserie; king of the pastry jungle and difficult to master… one wrong move and it will bite your hand off. During my regular sessions reading through my recipe books, I have flicked past the choux sections with my eyes firmly shut… surely I’m not ready for it yet?
I would love to say that I took courage, had confidence and was determined to face choux down in a David and Goliath battle. What actually happened was that I saw the picture of these gougères and, in my haste to eat some, I bought the ingredients without thought to the fact that they were quite obviously savoury choux buns.
I spotted this book of recipes in a lunchtime bookshop browse, attracted by a sumptuous tarte aux pommes fines on the cover and the tagline “100 light and delightful French favourites“. At last, a low fat, low calorie but full flavour adaptation of French dishes. With a number of guests to entertain this weekend, these seemed like a tasty and impressive way to tickle their appetites before Sunday lunch, without filling them with calories.
I had never heard of gougères and in my rush to buy ingredients and my ignorance of choux, I hadn’t even got a piping bag. Using a sandwich bag with a tip cut off instead, I was half-expecting both of my hands to be bitten off. But actually making the pastry is not difficult, they puffed up in the oven and they turned out to be everything they should be; tasty savoury choux, golden, light and fluffy, tangy cheese melting on the tongue… delicious little balls of cheesy loveliness. I felt real pride as I presented them to my guests and they were enthusiastically received. I am a lion tamer! (And I still have both hands intact.)
60g plain flour / 1/4 tsp ground utmeg / 125ml water / 25g unsalted butter / 1/4 tsp salt / 2 eggs / 50g Emmental cheese / 1 tsp Dijon mustard
Oven 180C / mix flour & nutmeg/ fold sheet of baking paper in 2 & place flour mixture in crease / boil water + butter + salt / shoot flour mixture in fast / beat hard with wooden spoon until doughy / beat for further 20 secs / take off heat / add 1 egg & beat with balloon whisk until absorbed / add 2nd egg & do same / keep beating until uniform & elastic / add cheese + mustard and beat more / line baking sheet with baking paper / spoon mixture into piping bag & pipe small balls onto baking sheet (leave room between to grow) / 15 mins in oven