Monday, September 27, 2010

Cheese Freeze – Gougeres!

So when I actually had money to spend, being in NYC, delivery for anything is just a given. Take out, Dry Cleaning, Laundry, Drug Store (inlc. sundries), and most of all groceries. I tell you, I had quite the pampered life for a little while.

There is one major On-line grocer in NYC that I was very loyal to, until I lost my job and to be honest, a few of my orders that included fresh herbs were a bit disappointing and I had started to order less and less from them. However, what I did and still do trust with them is their Meat, Fish, Cheese and Bakery departments. They offer a lot of options and the quality is fantastic. I just wish their fresh produce was better and more consistent.

Another major positive for this on-line delivery grocer is they have amazing and I do mean amazing “ready to cook” meals from great restaurateurs around the city and also offer great local frozen options from bakers and artisanal retailers. As for general groceries, they do lack a bit with new items, but they do have what you need overall.

Most specifically for this post, it’s about a product I ordered when it was available, frozen Gougeres, made from a cheese/restaurant retailer called Artisinal Cheese. They were expensive ($10) and if I remember correctly, only 15 per box. Regardless of the expense they were such a lovely treat, popping one or two in my mouth were just so heavenly.

Not until I was broke and craving gougeres, was I thinking about how to make them on my own and store them in the freezer (hey, I am single, most recipes call for 30-40 gougeres…Cooking isn’t the issue, but eating them all for myself, the quantity is a bit too much in one sitting). I want the convenience of taking out what I need when I want it.

I looked up various recipes and found only 3 that seemed to be most authentic from the frozen version I became accustom to. One from Jacques Pepin for Food & Wine Mag, the other from Epicurious and the final from Artisinal Cheese via Fresh Direct (my on-line grocer).

After reading these recipes, it actually brought me back to my early teen days when I wanted to make homemade éclairs and cream puffs. The trick is to understand how to make a Choux, which is a no more than a thick doughy roux if you think about it. My Mom encouraged me to figure out how to make these sweet treats and with her help, I knew at a young age how to make such sweet gastric delights.

Because I had previous knowledge and understanding of how to make“choux” dough, following and making the gougere recipe was a simple task and really, really quick to put together. The trick this time was not only to make the cheese puff treats, but to freeze them prior to cooking, like the frozen packages I bought from FD, then figure out the actual cook time from a frozen status as it will differ from the recipes.

The following recipe I used as a test, yields about 30-40-1 inch radius (or a tad less than half a dollar size) gougeres. One thing I did not like about this recipe is that there was way too much paprika. My next attempt, I will use less. Although, my hat is off to Jacques Pepin, as he is my male French chef hero and regardless of the overwhelming paprika, these came out delicious!

Before I list the recipe I used and other recipes to consider using, I want to give you explicit instructions to “pre-freeze” and store these treats, so that when you are ready to serve, you can just pop them in the oven when you are ready.

When you make any of the gougere recipes I have provided, if you decide to freeze instead of cooking immediately, make sure you have enough room in your freezer to accommodate a sheet pan (mine is 13x17).

When you complete your choux dough, pipe onto your sheet pan (with a parchment lining) as per the recipe instructions (NOTE: you can pipe them closer together to fit more on the pan if you are not baking them immediately). But rather than putting in the oven, immediately put in the freezer for about 2 hours. Once frozen, remove the frozen choux from the sheet pan to a proper freezer bag.

When ready to cook, preheat your oven to 400 degrees, place your frozen gougeres approximately 2 inches apart and bake for 20-25 minutes. However, and this is important!!!! After 5-10 minutes in the oven, sprinkle Fluer de Sel and additional cheese on top. Continue cooking until golden brown. Remember, each oven temp is different, so it is ultimately up to you to decide when these treats are done.

Pour votre santé et profitez-en! (To your health and enjoy!)

Recipe 1:
The Recipe I used in the Pics Above.
Recipe 2:
Recipe 3: (Below)


From "Artisanal Cooking" by Terrance Brennan and Andrew Friedman
Makes 55 Gougères
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons course sea salt
  • 2 pinches cayenne
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted with 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons grated Gruyère (from about 4 ounces cheese)
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Put the butter, 1/4 cup milk, water, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, and the cayenne in a 2-quart saucepot and set over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then add the sifted flour and baking powder. Remove from heat. Stir well with a wooden spoon and return to the heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the dough pulls away from the side of the pot, approximately 4 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat again and transfer the dough to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add 3/4 cup of the cheese and paddle on low, until just warm, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the eggs to the mixer, 1 at a time. Continue to mix the dough until smooth and shiny, about 10 minutes. The mixture should be cool.
  3. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a #6 tip.
  4. Pipe the dough into 1-inch rounds, each about 1/2-inch high. Allow about 1/4-inch of space between each gougère. Each tray should fit about 28 gougères.
  5. Brush the top of each gougère with the remaining 2 tablespoons milk and sprinkle with the remaining Gruyère and some sea salt.
  6. Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Turn the trays around and continue to bake until the gougères take on a deep, golden-brown color, approximately 7 minutes more. Serve hot from the oven or keep the gougères, loosely covered, at room temperature for up to 2 hours, then reheat at 400°F for 2 1/2 minutes.
  7. Bake until golden brown, approximately 7 to 10 minutes.
  8. Serve hot from the oven or keep the gougères, loosely covered, at room temperature for up to 2 hours and reheat in a 400°F oven for 2 1/2 minutes.

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