The best thing to nibble on while drinking wine or Champagne is without a doubt the gougeres. A delicious Burgundian invention which is a sort of cheese puff, only better. The cheesy batter puffs up magically to become miniature ‘hot air balloons’ that can be enjoyed plain or filled with…
[This post was momentarily hijacked by a lady at the coffee shop where i’m writing claiming that i’ve been sitting here for too long. I eloquently asked her to get lost before she started babbling words in some unknown dialect… could be some voodoo spell now i think of it. I resisted the invasion until i realized her denture was about to fall into my Cafe Latte… Scary! Only in New York kids!]
Where was i?… Oh yes the gougeres! The French are well- known for their love for stuffing things. They would stuff about anything on the surface of the earth. D’Artagnan for example is now selling prunes stuffed with foie-gras under the sexy name of “French Kisses“.. how appropriate! So to follow the stuffing tradition here’s what i do, using a small pastry bag i fill the gougeres with a thick truffle bechamel before serving them with a nice glass of chilled Champagne.Very festive… et tres bon!
What the heck levitation has to do with this post? huh… i don’t know! Just another one of my tricks to keep you reading until the end unless you believe that eating enough gougeres while drinking Champagne will activate their “hot air balloon” properties on your stomach and allow you to levitate in front of your friends. Now wouldn’t that be an awesome trick to show off at a party?
(yields 32 pieces)
For the gougeres:
- 4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup milk plus extra for brushing
For the bechamel:
- 3 level tablespoons of butter
- 4 level tablespoons of flour
- 3/4 cup of milk
- 1-2 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup grated gruyere
- Fresh truffle/ truffle oil/ truffle puree (whatever you can afford)
For the gougeres:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Bring the butter, milk, 1/4 cup water, salt, and pepper to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the sifted flour and baking powder. Stir well, and return to medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan and forms a ball, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Place the cheese and the mixture in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle, and beat until just warm. Add the eggs slowly as the mixer runs, until dough is smooth and shiny. (Alternatively, stir to cool by hand and beat in eggs with a wooden spoon.)
- Transfer to a pastry bag, and pipe in 1-inch mounds using a No. 4 tip, or drop with a teaspoon, on a sheet pan lined with parchment. (At this stage, the gougères can be frozen and then stored in a plastic bag. They do not have to be thawed before baking, but 11/2 to 2 minutes should be added to the cooking time.) Brush with milk, and sprinkle with cheese and sea salt.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes; when puffs are golden brown, reduce to 375 degrees and cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Serve hot or at room temperature. May be reheated or filled using a small pastry bag.
For the truffle bechamel:
- In a saucepan, melt the butter on low heat. As soon as it melts, add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until there are no lumps, and increase the heat to medium-low. Add the milk slowly, stirring constantly with a whisk, and continue stirring until the sauce begins to thicken – creamy without being too thick.
- Remove from the heat and stir in grated cheese, salt, pepper and truffle.
- Stir in the egg yolks and return to the heat, whisking briskly until well blended. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to use.