Have you ever wondered what you would eat for your last meal? Melanie Dunea has. When she’s not interviewing people for her blog My Last Supper, she spends her time as a freelance portrait photographer and casual instagramer. And this week, Melanie is sharing her favorite beauty, food, and photography tips on the Birchbox blog.
J’aime Paris. No, really. I love, love, love Paris. My first impressions of the city came from Ludwig Bemelmans’ Madeline books. I was enamored of that cheeky little girl, scared of Ms. Clavel, the teacher, and had a mad crush on Pepito, the Spanish Ambassador’s son who lived next door. But, mostly, I lingered over the drawings of Paris and dreamed of sitting in a café eating, drinking, and just being Parisian.
Fast forward to the late 1970’s. I found myself in a restaurant in Paris sitting in an overstuffed chair, perusing an oversize menu and feeling très Madeline-esque when the waiter came over and served us a plate of Gougères. I was surprised, as we hadn’t ordered anything yet. I looked at my parents who encouraged me to try the cheesy puffs and explained that they were compliments of the house. Free food? Paris was getting better by the minute. I popped one in my mouth and savored the warm gem as its flavor exploded on my tastebuds. I have never forgotten my first Gougères.
Many years and many Gougères later, I began baking my own. I’m always ready to slap on my apron to make a triple batch. I love to have them on hand for when visitors drop in unexpectedly. I have experimented with many recipes over the years and I think this one is the best. Pop open a bottle of cold champagne, cue up some Serge Gainsbourg, close your eyes. The taste of a warm Gougères will transport you.
Makes about 28
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
- Large pinch of coarse salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs
- 3 1/2 ounces (1 cup) Gruyère cheese, plus more for sprinkling
- 3 1/2 ounces (I cup) of Cheddar cheese
- Throw in any cheese you have in the house, the more the better!
- Freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 400°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium saucepan, combine the water, milk, butter, and salt and bring to a boil. Add the flour and stir it in with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough forms; stir over low heat until it dries out and pulls away from the pan, about two minutes.
Scrape the dough into a bowl; let cool for one minute. Add the eggs to the dough, one at a time, beating each thoroughly. Add the cheese and a pinch each of pepper and nutmeg.
Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with 1/2-inch round tip and pipe tablespoon-size mounds onto the baking sheet, two inches apart. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 22 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Serve hot, or let cool and refrigerate or freeze. Reheat in a 350ºF oven until piping hot.
[Notes from the Chef: When making the choux pastry, it’s essential that each egg is fully incorporated into the batter before adding the next. Don’t worry if the batter separates and looks curdled at first. Keep beating and it will come together. Just be patient!]