April 14th, 2011

Goat Cheese-Chive Gougères

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April’s first weeks ushered in a Nashville Spring with roller-coaster gusto: sunny days swinging to sweltering 90 degrees, followed by terrific tree-felling storms, a final chilling wintry blast, and moderating now into The Ideal.

Our world has turned new-green. Crumpled masses of peonies are unfurling. Shoots of chives poke up out of barren planters. Dogwoods are in profuse bloom, their white petals glow in the gathering shadows at dusk.

My cousin calls Spring the Optimist’s Season, the one that brings her the most joy.

I have to agree. I relish the promise of the new, and its vibrant energy. And, around our household, it’s been busy-busy with many projects: Preparing garden beds for vegetable and herb planting. Recipe testing for a magazine’s fall issue. Interviewing a chef for another magazine. Writing food-inspired poetry.

In the midst of such busy-ness, it’s been tricky to find time for My Cooking. So, today, in the face of April’s optimism , I want to share something delicious and easy. Something you can make in a blink. Something that holds those simple light flavors of springtime. I promise.

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Gougères are savory cream puffs, traditionally made with gruyere, a semi-hard cheese valued for its rich, nutlike flavor. But other cheeses work well into the eggy dough. Soft goat cheese, cracked black pepper, and chives combine to make tangy puffs that have creamy centers under crisp shells.

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The recipe comprises a terse list of common kitchen ingredients: flour, butter, eggs, salt and pepper, along with two less common, but readily available: chevre and chives. I found some local Belle Chevre at our market, and chives from a pot on my front porch.

You can add a little lemon zest, if you like, to further scent the paste.

In about 20 minutes, you can have puffs piped onto sheetpans, and into the oven.

The trick to making good gougeres is in the stirring. You will get a good upper arm workout, in the process….

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Bring your seasoned water and butter to a boil.

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Dump in a cup of flour and stir with vigor. As it cooks, it will form a ball-like mass, coming away from the sides of the saucepan.

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Turn off the heat. Make a well in the mass and beat in one egg–quickly. When it is incorporated, beat in the next egg. Continue until 4 eggs are beaten into the dough. It will look a little glossy.

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The soft goat cheese crumbles fold and melt into the dough easily.

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The dough will be soft, smooth, maleable, not at all runny. It will pipe into pretty ridged rounds on a parchment-lined sheetpan. If you don’t have a pastry bag, you can spoon little mounds instead. If you want, you can brush them with an egg wash for an extra crisp and shiny surface—but this is not essential.

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In 25 minutes, they emerge, puffed and golden.

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Unlike gruyere-based gougeres, which have a big hollow, the goat cheese ones have light creamy centers. Perfect bites to share with friends, toasting a spring evening, before you put some fish on the grill, some asparagus in the steamer, some fresh greens in the salad bowl…

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Happy Spring!

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GOAT CHEESE-CHIVE GOUGERES
1 cup Water
8 T. (one stick) Butter, cut into pieces
1/4 t. Salt
a few grindings of black pepper
1 cup All Purpose Flour
4 Eggs, plus 1 Egg
5 oz. Goat Cheese, crumbled
Fresh Chives, snipped into little pieces
Maldon Salt, for dusting over the gougeres

baking sheet pan lined with parchment
pastry bag (optional)

Preheat oven to 375º.

Place water, butter, salt, and pepper into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and dump in flour. Stir vigorously, until it is well incorporated, pulling away from the bottom and sides of the pan, and becomes a mass. Remove from heat. Using a wooden spoon, beat in eggs–One At A Time– into the flour mass. This will be a terrific upper arm workout!! Then beat in goat cheese crumbles and chives.

The pastry dough–a savory pâte à choux—will be glossy. Scoop it into a pastry bag, and pipe little mounds onto your parchment-lined sheet pan. If you don’t have a pastry bag, simply dollop small spoonfuls on to the pan.

Brush each with egg wash–1 egg beaten with some water. This step is optional.

Sprinkle chives and maldon finishing salt over the tops.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until puffed and golden. Serve warm.

Once cooled, these can be frozen, and used whenever! Just reheat for a few minutes in a 350º oven.

Makes 30-36 tasty bite-sized puffs.

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Posted in Appetizers/Hors D'oeuvres, Egg/Cheese Dishes, Recipes

21 Responses to “Goat Cheese-Chive Gougères”
  1. Nancy Says:

    Your gougeres look glowingly perfect and so appropriate for spring! March and the start of April have been a roller-coaster up here in new york, too. Glad you’re enjoying milder days now.

  2. Barbara Says:

    All I can say, Nancy, is your piping made these gougeres truly elegant! They look marvelous. I do love goat cheese and will definitely try these!

  3. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best Says:

    I love that you piped these gougeres, I think this may be the first time I’ve seen anyone do this, so elegant! These are such wonderful flavors, and a nice way to welcome Spring.

  4. Tammy Says:

    These look perfect for Easter.

  5. Greedy Rosie Says:

    They look amazing, and such helpful pictures.
    I’m worried I would eat *FAR* too many though!

  6. Michele Napoli Says:

    I love these and will definitely add them to my list of “to-be-tried” recipes. I particularly like your well-used and happy baking sheet.

  7. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Greedy Rosie—it is FAR too easy to gobble these up, once you pull them out of the oven.

    Michele-thanks! it has been a long-time happy work-horse of a baking sheet pan.

  8. heather Says:

    Beautiful and perfect for an Easter buffet. Thank you Nancy.

  9. Barbara Says:

    I can do this!! Maybe for an Easter appetizer-lovely Nance!

  10. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    I’m going to have to make these. They look so good. Your chives are very pretty. And they are right there on your front porch. I am a little jealous.

  11. My Little Expat Kitchen Says:

    Nancy, I *love* gougeres. The flavors in yours must be really special with the chives and cheese and they look so cute :)
    Great tutorial as well. Thank you!
    Magda

  12. Anna Johnston Says:

    Oh Wow…, they sure look good don’t they. I haven’t made these little wonders for ages, thanks for reminding me, just perfect.

  13. FOODESSA Says:

    Nancy…your kind of busy sounds way more exciting than my busy Spring activities lately. How exciting for you to have these culinary based projects…a great tie-in with the wonderful posts you put together.

    These cheese twister puffs look so adorable…I’ve got to make time to try making them. Thanks for the tutorial ;o)

    Have a great weekend,
    Claudia

  14. foodonfifth.com, Teresa Blackburn Says:

    I love gougeres and I love saying gougeres….they look how they sound, lovely and French!

  15. Madeleine Says:

    Your gougeres are just as I would imagine a scoop of cloud. Love this post, love your poem, and love you best!

  16. Juliana Says:

    Oh Nancy! Your gougeres are so cute, love how you piped them…so pretty…if only I could get a hold of one…what a gorgeous appetizers they make. Have a great week!

  17. Karen Says:

    How beautiful, Nancy! I love the pictures in this post, they so perfectly epitomize spring. And the recipe is wonderful as well – just like spring itself. These little friends would vanish in a second in my house. :-)

  18. Faith Says:

    Your gougeres are lovely, Nancy! I’ve never had goat cheese gougeres, but your description of their creamy centers has me completely sold. Love your pretty pictures too…aren’t chive blossoms gorgeous?

  19. Cathy Says:

    Nancy, I made these yesterday for friends, and they were a huge hit–although I cheated a little and bought goat cheese with the herbs already in it! Also, John suggested that the gougeres might go well with a dipping sauce, so I made a curried yogurt dip to accompany them. It might not have been orthodox, but some people enjoyed it.

  20. goodfoodmatters Says:

    To me, that’s not cheating, Cath–sounds like a great idea. Glad they were a hit! A dipping sauce with gougeres is a bit unorthodox, but I say, why not?



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