White Cheddar and Thyme Gougères with Smoked Sea Salt
Gougères are really just a fancy pants name for cheese puffs. Yep, you got it. These are balls of warm, soft, bread-y goodness that are soft on the inside and full of white cheddar flavour. In other words, they're amazeballs. If you haven't had them before I suggest running to your kitchen right this second. They could very well change your life.
Gougères are made with a dough called pate au choux which is made from only 4 ingredients:
- Butter (or another kind of fat)
- Water (or milk)
Pate au choux is the same dough you use when you make profiteroles (aka: cream puffs).
To make the dough you'll start by bringing the butter and water (or milk or a combination of the two) to a boil. Once it is at a rapid boil you add the flour, all at once, then stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the dough forms a ball. You'll then take the pot off the heat and one by one stir in the eggs.
If you're using the dough for something sweet you'll drop it or pipe it onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake it just like this. But if you want to use the dough for savoury gougères you can use this base dough and add whatever flavour you want to it. In this case I added 4 year old white cheddar, thyme and smoked sea salt.
Note: if you experiment with pate au choux and want to try adding milk instead of water it will cause the dough to brown quicker. You will have to take them out of the oven sooner and will have a softer and eggier middle.
One of the best things about gougères (other than how addictive and delicious they are) is that they can easily be made in advance. Here you have two options:
- Make them, bake them, cool them completely before storing them up to a day in an airtight bag. You will have to reheat them from about 4-5 minutes in the oven before you serve them. They're a tiny bit less good this way, but still really really good.
- Or make them, pipe or drop them onto parchment paper, freeze them, then bake them from frozen before you serve them. They'll taste just as good this way as if you baked the dough right after you made it.
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The smoked sea salt on these came from a super awesome client of mine. I catered his wife's birthday dinner a little while back and he sent me home with a jar of sea salt that he had smoked himself. Awesome, right?!
If you don't have a super awesome client who gifts you smoked sea salt you and you live in Vancouver you can find smoked Maldon salt at Gourmet Warehouse.
If you make these White cheddar and Thyme Gougères with Smoked Maldon Sea Salt, make sure to snap a pic and tag @theendlessmeal on Instagram so I can like and comment on your photos. I love seeing TEM recipes you create.
White Cheddar and Thyme Gougères with Smoked Maldon Sea Salt
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- ¼ cup salted butter
- 1 cup water
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs
- 1 ½ cups aged white cheddar, finely grated
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- Smoked sea salt
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Bring the butter, water, sea salt, and cayenne pepper to a boil in a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat. Add the flour all at once and stir vigorously until the dough comes together into a ball, about 1 minute. Remove the pot from the heat and spread the dough around the bottom of the pot to help it cool slightly. Let the dough cool for about 1 minute.¼ cup salted butter, 1 cup water, ½ teaspoon sea salt, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 cup all-purpose flour
- Add the eggs one at a time, stirring until each is incorporated before adding another. If you find this difficult try moving the pot to a lower surface, like your dining table, and stirring it on there. A lower surface makes it easier to use your whole body and not just your arms.4 large eggs
- Just before the last egg is incorporated add the grated white cheddar and thyme and stir the batter until everything is evenly mixed in.1 ½ cups aged white cheddar, 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- Scoop tablespoons of the batter and drop them onto the prepared baking sheets. You will need to slide the batter off with a finger as it is very sticky. Sprinkle the tops with a tiny pinch of smoked sea salt on each.
- Bake the gougères in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, switching the pans from top to bottom after 15 minutes. The gougères are done when they are lightly browned, completely puffed up and firm on their tops. When they have finished cooking turn off the oven and open the door a crack but leave them in to cool for 10 minutes.
- Gougères can be baked a day ahead of time then gently rewarmed just before serving. Make sure they are completely cool before storing them in an airtight container. You can also freeze the uncooked gougères then bake them straight from frozen, adding a couple of minutes to the baking time. Just make them up to step 5 then freeze them on the baking sheet. Once they are frozen you can take them off the baking sheet and store them in a plastic freezer bag.