A very dear friend is getting married and, against my better judgement, I have agreed to head up the menu planning and preparation for her bridal shower.
The only reason I’m questioning my ability to do this is because the day prior to the shower is the last Les Mills Quarterly Workshop of the year and I AM GOING! This leaves me only Saturday evening and Sunday morning to get everything ready. There will be no time for forgotten ingredients or ruined batches of this or that. I have to nail it.
To prepare for next weekend, I’m testing recipes to make sure I have everything down pat before the big day. Yesterday was devoted to finding the right cake and frosting for vanilla cupcakes. (Hat tip to Martha Stewart for the vanilla cupcake recipe and apologies to Milk & Honey Cafe because I didn’t like your vanilla buttercream frosting.) Tired of looking at frosting and cake and completely over these cupcakes, I decided to try my hand at a savory appetizer for the shower.
Cheese straws are a mainstay of bridal and baby showers in the South, but I wanted to add a French twist to the menu. Enter: Gougeres. French cheese puffs. I had the assistance of my dear friend Ellen while making these and for those of you who, like me, do not speak French, she said they are pronounced GOOZ-HAIR. Merci, Miss Ellen!
(Adapted from Ina Garten’s “Barefoot in Paris” cookbook)
1 c. milk
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 tsp. sea salt or kosher salt
1/8 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
Dash of nutmeg
1 c. all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
½ c. Comte or Gruyere cheese (grate extra to sprinkle over the tops)
¼ c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Egg wash (1 egg beaten + 1 tsp. water)
Preheat oven to 425 F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a saucepan, heat milk, butter, salt, pepper and nutmeg over medium heat, until scalded (just below boiling point). Add the flour all at once and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together. (It will resemble play-dough.) Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat for 2 minutes. The flour will begin to coat the bottom of the pan.
Put the hot mixture into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Immediately add eggs, grated cheeses and pulse until the eggs are incorporated and the dough is smooth and thick.
Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag. (Options: use a large Ziploc freezer bag with one corner cut, a small ice cream scoop or just two small spoons. I used a pastry bag with no tip in it and it worked really well.) Pipe onto parchment paper. Ina Garten says to pipe them 1 1/4″ thick and 3/4″ high. Very particular isn’t she? I just did two to three swirls with a little peak on top. Pipe them tall and it’ll bake into a nice rounded puff.
Brush the top of each puff lightly w/ egg wash and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
If you can abide by that rule to let things cool before eating them, more power to you, but Ellen and I decided it was worth the risk to eat them piping hot. We also ate them warm. We ate them at room temperature, too. In other words – we couldn’t stop eating them. We hailed these little bites of cheesey, eggy goodness as “the discovery of the weekend” and agreed that they were a must for the shower. We’ll be adding them to our respective recipe repertoires, too – especially for entertaining.
Gougeres are now at the TOP of the Bridal Shower Menu. They’re deliciously addictive and if the rate at which Ellen and I consumed them is any indication, they’ll go fast.