I'm actually kicking myself for not ever making it before this! My inspiration to tackle pâte à choux was actually an earlier post of mine about breaking the rules and taking risks . I had never made this particular pastry, although I remember my mom making cream puffs on occasion when I was little. I was having a Tupperware party and thought I would make gougère as an appetizer and cream puffs for dessert. That was my excuse to go down this particular culinary road, but again, being appallingly
Here is a picture of the finished gougère, along with the other appetizer, which was amazingly easy and tasty. Just slice a cucumber in thin rounds (If you want, you can use mini cookie cutters to make them look extra fancy. I used Pampered Chef's creative cutters set). Then slice radishes thinly (I used a mondoline), put one slice on top of each cucumber slice. Then make the cheese topping. For about 2 dozen cucumber slices, I used 2 ounces of goat cheese and 1 ounce of cream cheese mixed together, then added lemon zest (about 1/2 tsp) and fresh mint, cut up fine (about 2 big leaves). Mix all of that together, then spoon little bits (about 1/4 of a teaspoon) on top of each cucumber/radish stack. Easy peasy.
Okay, back to the puffs. I was a little skeptical about the process, since the dough is a gooey, paste-y consistency, and I didn't think it would ever puff up crispy, airy and light. But I was wrong. Clearly, I really need to finish the book, "What Einstein Told His Cook," which is all about food science, and I'm sure it will explain the science behind the magic of pate a choux. :-) The dough was also really forgiving, because I made it earlier in the day, piped it out on parchment-lined cookie sheets, then put them in the freezer until I was ready to bake. I just added time on the the listed baking time, but they still turned out puffy and yummy.
I turned to Martha Stewart for help on a basic dough. Here's a link to the recipe I used, but I used half of the recipe for the gougeres (adding 3/4 cup grated gruyere) and the other half for the cream puffs, which ended up more like mini-eclairs. I really should get a proper tip for my pastry bag. I don't have a big, plain round tip, so I just put the coupling on without a decorator tip and made do with that. It worked fine, but was a little challenging to control the dough coming out.
I was so excited to see the finished product that I forgot the suggestion to smooth out any pointy parts with a little water on your finger before putting in the oven, so my "eclairs" looked like little slugs, to be honest. I didn't get a chance to take a picture of the finished eclairs, because people ate them up pretty quickly, but I just filled them with vanilla pudding and a chocolate glaze (you can find a gazillion recipes for both of these on line). They turned out better than I had expected, and I will definitely be making more of them in the future!