Sunday, December 4, 2011

Fonduta-Filled Gougeres

And so my Thanksgiving recipes begin.  First up: the gougeres that were the amuse for the meal.

For the past few years, I've made gougeres every year for Thanksgiving as part of the lineup of the snacks before our Thanksgiving feast.  But this year I decided to make them even better by filling them with a rich, gooey, cheesy fonduta.  Sort of like a cream puff, but savory and melty.

Yes, I was inspired by the impossibly small fonduta-filled gougeres that kick off every meal at Per Se.  However, this was in fact a completely fitting way to start our meal given that my family has come to expect these cheesy little bites as the first of many courses of our Thanksgiving meal.

The name may sound intimidating, but these are in fact really easy to make.  They don't require any special equipment or ingredients and come together very quickly.  Even better is that you can prepare them in advance - they freeze perfectly - and bake them right before you need to serve them.  Cheese puffs fresh from the oven are pretty hard to beat.

You can forgo the fonduta - the gougeres are just as delicious without it - but I wholeheartedly recommend taking the few extra (and simple) steps to fill these little cheese puffs.  The warm burst of gooey cheese is unexpected and totally decadent. 


Fonduta-Filled Gougeres
makes approximately 3 dozen 1” gougeres

For the fonduta
¾ cup whole milk
1 tablespoon (½ ounce) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon flour
Large pinch of salt
Large pinch of freshly ground black pepper
Large pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 ounces Gruyère cheese, finely grated

For the gougeres
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
¼ cup whole milk
¼ cup water
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
2 ounces Gruyère cheese, finely grated

For baking the gougeres
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon flaky salt or coarse sea salt


Make the fonduta
Put the milk in a glass and heat in the microwave on high power for 90 seconds.

Put the butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the flour and cook while whisking continually until the flour is starting to brown, about 2 minutes.

Add the hot milk salt, pepper, and nutmeg, then increase the heat to medium-high, and whisk constantly until slightly thickened, 3-5 minutes. (If you dip a spoon in the mixture then pull it out and run your finger down the back, the line should hold.) Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cheese. Set aside to cool.

[Note: the fonduta can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week; heat in the microwave on medium power for 2 minutes to reheat before filling the gougeres.]

Make the gougeres
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper and set aside.

Add the butter, milk, water, salt, and pepper to a 4-quart saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then remove from the heat.

Add the flour and stir well with a wooden spoon until fully incorporated. Return the pan to medium heat and cook, stirring often, until the dough easily pulls away from the side of the pan, about 3 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and let the dough cool for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally to release steam. Add the cheese and stir well to incorporate. [Note: after cooking the dough, you can transfer it to a stand mixer, but you really don’t need to, and who wants to wash more dishes? In the past I’ve done so but this time around mixed by hand and the gougeres came out just the same.]

Add one egg and stir well until fully incorporated. Repeat with the second egg.

Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a ½” round tip. Pipe 1” mounds, using your fingertip to pat down any peaks. Brush the gougeres with the 2 tablespoons of milk and sprinkle with the 1 teaspoon flaky or coarse salt.  [Note: At this point, you can put the baking sheets in the freezer, then transfer the gougeres to resealable bags to bake at a later time – it’s what I did for Thanksgiving. There’s no need to thaw them before baking; just add 2-3 minutes to the initial baking time.]

Bake the gougeres until golden brown, 10-12 minutes for fresh and 12-15 minutes for frozen. Lower the oven temperature to 375 and bake for another 2 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to a wire rack to let the gougeres cool down a bit. [Note: You can bake these a few hours in advance and leave them uncovered at room temperature, then reheat after filling them.]

Fill the gougeres
Transfer the warm fonduta to a fabric piping bag fitted with a 1/16” round tip or to a syringe. (I used the latter.) Pierce the side of each gougere and fill with a small amount of the béchamel. Serve immediately. [If the gougeres have cooled down too much after filling them – you want to serve them warm – put them back onto a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 2-3 minutes just to warm them up.

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