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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Easy Cheese Puffs

Sometimes things that really should be quite simple can be presented in very difficult ways. Take Cheese Puffs and other things that use a pate a choux dough. You'd think looking at instructions that this would be an all day ordeal fraught with danger. Actually, it can be fairly simple and straightforward.

I'm sure using a food processor in all this probably yields some benefit. However, not all of us are equipped with the latest Cuisinart doohickey so we make do with a mixer. In this case, I found that the dough doesn't fluff up quite as much but it's still very good and excellent for making cheese puffs for hors d'oeuvres. It probably didn't help the fluffy factor that I kept peeking too often because I was unsure if the full 15 minutes was necessary at such a high temp. (Note to self: trust Ina Garten's times as given!)

If you're planning to make a pate a choux for use in cream puffs or eclairs, you might want to go all out and use a food processor and the several step cooking procedures outlined by pastry professionals. However, if you need some quick cheese puff appetizers for a party, then try this for something that is both easy and tasty.

1 cup milk
1/4-pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 extra-large eggs
2 1/2 oz. goat cheese or 1/2 cup finely grated Gruyere
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for sprinkling
1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water, for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 425°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a saucepan, heat the milk, butter, salt, pepper, and nutmeg over medium heat, until scalded. Add the flour all at once and beat it vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together. Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat for 2 minutes. The flour will begin to coat the bottom of the pan. Dump the hot mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Immediately add the eggs, goat cheese, and Parmesan and mix at high speed until the eggs are incorporated and the dough is smooth and thick.

Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a large plain round tip. Pipe in mounds 1 1/4 inches wide and 3/4-inch high onto the baking sheets. With a wet finger, lightly press down the swirl at the top of each puff. (You can also use 2 spoons to scoop out the mixture and shape the puffs with damp fingers.) Brush the top of each puff lightly with egg wash and sprinkle with a pinch of Parmesan. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown outside but still soft inside.

Note: Adapted from Ina Garten. 

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