Saturday, September 06, 2008

light and puffy

We brought these to a friend's party as appetizers. They went very quickly.

bacon gruyere gougeres
This is a foolproof recipe for gougeres. I've had some mishaps with choux pastry dough before, but I think the use of the food processor really helps with the beating phase.

If you prefer smaller gougères, simply use a smaller tip on the piping bag. Pay close attention as they bake because smaller puffs may require a shorter baking time. Gougères are best served warm, although they can be made in advance and reheated as needed.

Bacon, Gruyere & Thyme Gougeres
INGREDIENTS
Pork and Brine
- 7 slices bacon , minced
- 4 medium cloves garlic , minced
- 2 large eggs , plus 1 large egg white
- 6 tablespoons water
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 6 pieces
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (2 1/2 ounces), sifted
- 3 ounces Gruyère, Emmentaler, or Swiss cheese , shredded (about 1 cup)
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Beat eggs and egg white in measuring cup or small bowl; you should have 1/2 cup (discard excess). Set aside.

2. In small skillet, fry minced bacon over medium heat until almost crisp, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Drain mixture through small strainer, reserving 2 tablespoons bacon fat. Set aside.

3. Bring water, butter, bacon fat, milk, and salt to boil in small saucepan over medium heat, stirring once or twice (see illustration 1). When mixture reaches full boil (butter should be fully melted), immediately remove saucepan from heat and stir in flour with heatproof spatula or wooden spoon until combined and mixture clears sides of pan. Return saucepan to low heat and cook, stirring constantly, using a smearing motion (illustration 2), until mixture is slightly shiny, looks like wet sand, and tiny beads of fat appear on bottom of saucepan, about 3 minutes (paste should register 175 to 180 degrees on instant-read thermometer).

4. Immediately transfer mixture to food processor and process with feed tube open for 10 seconds to cool slightly. With machine running, gradually add eggs in a steady stream (illustration 3). When all eggs have been added, scrape down sides of bowl and add Gruyère and cayenne to food processor. Process for 30 seconds until a smooth, thick, sticky paste forms. Pulse bacon-garlic mixture and thyme into batter until mixed. (If not using immediately, transfer paste to medium bowl, press sheet of plastic wrap that has been sprayed lightly with nonstick cooking spray directly on surface, and store at room temperature for up to 2 hours.)

5. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment paper; set sheet aside.

6. Fold down top 3 or 4 inches of large pastry bag fitted with 1/2-inch plain tip to form cuff. Following illustrations 4 through 6, hold bag open with one hand in cuff and fill bag with paste. Unfold cuff, place bag on work surface, and, using your hands, push paste toward tip of pastry bag. Twist top of bag and pipe paste onto prepared baking sheet into 16 evenly spaced 2-inch mounds. Use back of teaspoon dipped in bowl of cold water to even out shape and smooth surface of piped mounds.

7. Bake 15 minutes (do not open oven door), then reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees and continue to bake until golden brown and fairly firm, 12 to 14 minutes longer. Remove baking sheet from oven. With paring knife, cut 3/4-inch slit into side of each puff to release steam; return to oven, turn off oven, and prop oven door open with handle of wooden spoon. After 10 minutes, transfer puffs to wire rack. Serve warm. (Gougères can be cooled completely and stored at room temperature for up to 24 hours or frozen in zipper-lock plastic bag for up to 1 month. Before serving, crisp room-temperature gougères in 300-degree oven for 5 to 8 minutes; crisp frozen gougères for 8 to 10 minutes.)
Makes 15 2-inch puffs
[from Cook's Illustrated, December 2006]

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