Holiday Entertaining 2001: Hors D'Oeuvres

See Also
Best of New York 2002: Cheese Bits
  Cheese Gougères

The Chef
TERRANCE BRENNAN of Artisanal and Picholine

Yields 32 pieces.

4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup milk plus extra for brushing
1/2 teaspoon each salt and ground white pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup grated Gruyère plus extra for garnish
Coarse sea salt

Cooking Instructions
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.