Cheddar Cheese Puffs

Light and airy savory cheese puffs (gourgères) with cheddar cheese and thyme.

Gougeres Cheddar Cheese Puffs
Elise Bauer

Have you ever made cheese puffs? To make them, first you make a pâte a choux dough (pronounced "pat ah shoo"), which, if you've never made it before, can seem a little weird.

Weird because most of us who bake are used to mixing dough ingredients together and then plopping them in the oven.

With a pâte a choux dough, you essentially half cook the dough first, by adding flour to boiling water and butter, and stirring like a madman until you have a ball of dough the consistency of play-dough.

Then you mix in eggs and then the dough goes in the oven, where it puffs up as the water in the dough turns to steam and expands into air pockets.

Cheese Puffs Gougeres
Elise Bauer

The dough is used for making cream puffs, eclairs, cheese puffs (gougères), beignets, and even churros. David Lebovitz has a recipe for making a French tart crust with what looks to me to be essentially a pâte a choux dough, that has been getting raves.

So, it's a useful technique, and pretty easy, though the dough can be a little stiff to work by hand.

These cheese puffs are made with cheddar cheese and a little bit of thyme. You could add crumbled bacon to the mix, or use sage or rosemary. You could use goat cheese instead of cheddar, or Gruyere or Emmenthaler (more traditional for a gougère).

Feel free to experiment with the cheeses!

By the way, Michael Ruhlman has an excellent chapter on pâte a choux and gougères in his Ratio book.

These cheese puffs? Excellent as dumplings in split pea soup. Use instead of croutons. Or devour them as they were intended, as a savory, addictive appetizer.

Cheddar Cheese Puffs

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Servings 24 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 stick butter (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces)

  • 1 cup water

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1 cup (4 ounces) grated sharp cheddar cheese

  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme (or rosemary)

  • Freshly ground pepper

Method

  1. Boil the water, butter, salt:

    In a medium sized saucepan, add the water, butter, and salt, and bring to a boil over high heat.

    boil water butter salt to start the cheese puff dough
    Elise Bauer
  2. Add the flour and stir:

    Reduce the heat to medium and add the flour all at once. Stir rapidly. The mixture will form a dough ball that will pull away from the sides of the pan.

    add flour and stir to make cheese puff dough
    Elise Bauer
    heat cheese puff dough to make gougere dough
    Elise Bauer

    It helps to use a wooden spoon to stir as the dough will be rather thick. Continue to cook for a couple minutes.

    the cheese puff dough should pull away from the sides of the pan
    Elise Bauer
  3. Let cool a couple minutes, then add eggs, one at a time:

    Remove the pan from the heat and let cool for a couple of minutes. Stir so that the dough cools more evenly. You want the dough to be warm, just not so hot that when you start adding eggs they cook as they hit the dough.

    Add the eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition until the eggs are incorporated into the dough. (Do this part in a mixer if you want, or by hand with a wooden spoon.) The dough should become rather creamy.

    add eggs one at a time to cheese puff gougere dough
    Elise Bauer
    stir cheese puff gougere dough until creamy
    Elise Bauer
  4. Stir in the grated cheese, thyme, and a few grinds of pepper.
  5. Scoop spoonfuls onto lined baking sheet:

    Heat oven to 425°F. Spoon out small balls (about a heaping tablespoon) of the dough onto a silicone or parchment lined baking sheet, with at least an inch separating the spoonfuls.

    scoop cheese puff dough by spoonfuls onto a lined baking sheet
    Elise Bauer
  6. Bake:

    Place in oven and cook for 10 minutes at 425°F. Lower heat to 350°F and cook for another 15-20 minutes, until puffed up and lightly golden.

    bake cheddar cheese puffs until golden
    Elise Bauer

Links:

Pâte a Choux and explanation by Michael Ruhlman

Gougères by David Lebovitz

French tart dough made by using a pâte a choux method, by David Lebovitz

Sage and gorgonzola cheese puffs from Dara, the Cookin' Canuck

Wikipedia on choux pastry

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
84 Calories
6g Fat
4g Carbs
3g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 24
Amount per serving
Calories 84
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 8%
Saturated Fat 4g 18%
Cholesterol 46mg 15%
Sodium 117mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 4g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 41mg 3%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 23mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.