Pizza Gougeres

Don’t let this recipe intimidate you. French choux paste — the basis for eclairs, cheese puffs, cream puffs –  is shockingly easy to make at home. By adding herbs, cheese and sun dried tomatoes, you’ve just made one of the fanciest pizzas rolls around.

You will need:

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup whole milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon parsley, minced
1 tablespoon oregano, minced
1 tablespoon basil, minced
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese, or parmesan, romano, asiago cheese mix
6-8 sun dried tomatoes, diced (approximately 1/2 cup when reconstituted and diced)

Ingredient notes: Many chefs prefer to make their choux paste with all water and using more butter or all water with less better, depending on how chewy they want their pastry to come out. I was taught whole milk for baking puffs (and reinforced by my favorite cookbook since then), so that is how I’ve always made gougeres. If you prefer an all-water dough, that is up to you the chef.

Plain sun dried tomatoes that need to be steeped in boiling water to soften are used over sun dried tomatoes packed in oil to keep the correct balance of fats in the dough.

Preheat oven to 400º and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In combine the water, milk, butter and salt together in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, add the flour and stir until the mixture is smooth and starts to form a dough ball. Reduce heat and cook for another minute or so to release the last bit of moisture from the dough.

Remove the dough from the heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl to cool for five to ten minutes. The dough needs to be warm, but not hot enough to curdle the eggs when they’re mixed in.

While the dough is cooling, mix together the herbs, cheese and diced sun dried tomatoes in a small bowl.

Working one egg at a time, mix in eggs and combine until the dough is smooth. Fold in the herb, sun dried tomato and shredded cheese blend until evenly combined.

Using a spoon or a medium sized cookie scoop, form the dough into roughly 1 1/2 – 2 inch balls and evenly space about an inch apart on a lined cookie sheet. (I suppose if you want to be a classicist you can put the dough into a pastry bag and pipe on the sheet, but unless I’m making longer eclairs, I’ve always found that particular technique too labor intensive when dealing with choux paste.)

Bake at 400º for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat to 350º and bake for 10-15 more minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and turn over the gougeres, giving each one a small prick on the side with a sharp knife. Return to the oven and bake for 5 more minutes for maximum chewiness.

If working in batches, the dough can be refrigerated between each batch going into the oven.

Yields approximately 30 puffs.