Gougères are the savory equivalent to a cream puff. No flavor is too prominent; their beauty comes from the simplicity of flavors which somehow meld together perfectly in a single bite of airy dough. This version showcases traditional gougères by using the classic combination of gruyere cheese and thyme. Typically, gougères recipes call for water or milk. I use oak aged pale ale as the barrel aging pairs well with the woodsy thyme and nutty gruyere (and beer evaporates slightly less quickly than water). That shouldn’t limit you, though! For a Southern twist, trying substituting cheddar and jalapenos. Or leave out the cheese altogether; Alice Waters recommends using 1 or 2 chopped anchovies instead of cheese in her book, The Art of Simple Food. Once you’ve settled on a cheese or other addition for the gougères, choose a beer that’ll pair well or enhance those flavors. There are simply a few rules which must be followed to ensure ample dough puffing action: allow the dough to cool to prevent the eggs from cooking when they’re added, measure the liquid and don’t use large eggs as an excess of liquid may cause the gougères to deflate, and preheat the oven to 400F to ensure proper browning.
- ½ cup Oak Aged Pale Ale
- 3 tbs. butter, chopped into small pieces
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tbs. freshly chopped thyme
- ¾ cup grated Gruyere (or Swiss) cheese
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Prepare all of the ingredients before beginning anything else - grate the cheese, dice the butter into small cubes, and chop the thyme.
- In a medium pan heat the beer, butter, and salt over a medium low flame just until the butter has melted. Watch carefully as it’s important not to let the mixture boil.
- Once the butter has melted, add all of the flour (the burner should still be on medium low heat) and stir continuously until the mixture is homogenous and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan into a soft dough ball. Stir for an additional minute.
- Place the dough in a medium mixing bowl and allow to cool a bit, just enough so that the mixture won’t cook the eggs when they are added.
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated.
- Add the thyme and cheese; stir to combine.
- Place quarter sized dollops of batter on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; allow at least 1 ½ inches between dollops. To do this, use a pastry bag, freezer bag with one corner snipped off, or two spoons. The puffs can be much smaller or even much larger, the goal is simply to make them all the same size to ensure even cooking.
- Bake in a 400F oven on the middle rack for 10 minutes; turn the oven down to 375F and bake an additional 10 - 20 minutes (it depends on the size of your dollop) until they’ve puffed up and the outside is golden brown. Sprinkle each puff with salt immediately after they’ve left the oven.
- For an extra crispy gougères, pierce each once or twice with a toothpick so that the steam can escape. Serve warm or reheat in a 375F oven for no more than 4 minutes.