Cheddar-bacon gougeres

After making various sweet cream puffs with pate a choux dough, I thought I'd make a switch to savory.  I went with that classic American flavor combination of cheddar cheese and bacon.  
Not very surprisingly, the fellas in my house are big fans of this flavor combo (around here, cheers ring out when I make twice baked potatoes with bacon, cheddar, and scallions) so I knew I'd have some ready taste-testers for this.  I baked a handful for lunch the other day and froze the rest of the batch for another time.  The ones I baked were readily polished off. These little mounds of sharp, cheesy, savory goodness are pretty easy to love.  They're ever so crisp yet tender on the inside.

To make, it all starts with the familiar pate a choux dough.  I added a pinch of paprika for a little extra color and you could really flavor it with a touch of whatever spice you want.  The dough is quickly cooked on the stovetop and after the eggs are fully incorporated and the dough is ready, the savory part comes in.  I added shredded sharp cheddar cheese and a few slices of finely chopped bacon.  You could add some chives or scallions if you have it on hand.  
This had me thinking back and remembering that I've actually made cheese gougeres before, years ago.  One Christmas, I attempted them for a family Christmas party. What I remember was how bland those puffs turned out!  For whatever reason that I can't remember now, I'd substituted a mild cheese for whatever it was I was supposed to use and I remember those gougeres had hardly any flavor as a result.  Well, I'm happy to say I made up for the flavor department this time.

And speaking of Christmas, the holidays are coming up!  That has me thinking of parties...appetizers, toasts, and nibbles.  These are just the kind of little bites that would be great for a cocktail party, or they'd just make a nice appetizer to get a party started.  These cheese gougeres would certainly go well with some bubbly (anybody else love the combination of salty potato chips with champagne?).  I like to keep mini bottles of prosecco in my fridge for mimosas or whenever we might want to make a little toast to life.  The next time I bake off the rest of this batch of cheddar-bacon gougeres, I'll be reaching for one of those bottles.

You can get roughly 30 or so bite-size cheese puffs from this recipe.  I used 3/4 cup, or 3 ounces, of sharp cheddar cheese.  I routinely buy lean center-cut bacon so that's what I have in the house and that's what I used for this recipe.  I went with 4 slices of the center-cut bacon and chopped them finely.
I actually managed to pipe the dough into small mounds so they are about 2-bite nibbles per puff after baking.
As you might suspect, the dough won't be smooth with bacon bits and cheese swirled into the dough.  I used a wet fingertip to tap the tips down and I topped this batch of puffs with a little bit of reserved cheddar cheese.  

As I mentioned, I froze a bit more than half the batch for another day.  To freeze, I piped the dough out into little mounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Freeze the dough until hardened, then pop them in a bag to bake (straight from the freezer, without thawing) another day.  I'm looking forward to that!
I somewhat nervously wondered if I'd get any lift off of the puffs with all the heavy filling I added to the dough.  As you can see, they do achieve lift-off but maybe not to the extent you might be used to seeing.  
What you'll end up with is a very crisp cheese puff.  The inside is just a bit soft and tender. There's a lot of air inside these so I think it's totally acceptable to eat at least 6...right?
I served these with lunch.  Incidentally, I made beans from scratch for the first time (starting with dried beans) last week!  I ended up making up bowls of stewed beans (with some turkey kielbasa pictured below) and putting these cheese puffs on the table.
I think these cheese puffs would be great with soup...or stew, or chili, and many other possibilities.  But all in all, I kinda like them all by themselves...

Recipe:

Cheddar-Bacon Gougeres
Adapted from David Lebovitz

- Makes approximately 30 bite-size puffs - 

1/2 cup (125 ml) water
3 tablespoons (40g) butter (I used unsalted but either is fine), cut into cubes
1/4 teaspoon salt
Few dashes of paprika (optional; or use another spice)
1/2 cup (70g) all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup (3 oz.) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4 slices cooked bacon (I used center-cut), finely chopped

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.

Heat water, butter, salt, and paprika in a saucepan until butter is melted and mixture just comes to the boil.  Add flour all at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the pan in a smooth ball. Continue to cook for another minute (to dry out the dough).

Transfer dough to a mixing bowl and let cool for 2 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, quickly stirring to incorporate.  At first, the dough will look lumpy but keep stirring vigorously and you'll see it come together.  You should have a thick, relatively stiff dough at this point. 

Add cheese (you could reserve a bit to top the puffs with after piping, if you like) and bacon, stirring well to incorporate.  Transfer dough to a piping bag fitted with a plain round tip (or use a freezer bag and cut out a tip, or simply use 2 spoons).  Pipe the dough, evenly spaced apart, into small (about 1-inch) mounds.  

Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 375 degrees and bake for another 20-25 minutes until puffs are completely golden. 

Serve puffs warm, if possible.  The baked puffs can also be reheated in a low oven for 5-10 minutes.  

To freeze, pipe dough onto a lined baking sheet.  Freeze until solid, then store in a freezer bag.  Bake from the freezer, without thawing, adding an extra minute or two to the bake time.



40 comments:

  1. I've only made gougeres once, and they were savoury too - a cheese flavour. I think bacon would have been a terrific addition.

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    1. I'm so happy I have some tucked away in the freezer right now...I'm ready to pop some in the oven when guests come over! : )

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  2. Oh, I love that you went with savory puffs. They looks so good and I love that you added paprika, cheese and bacon! I can just imagine how amazing they would taste with a big bowl of hot soup, stew or chili! I would totally enjoy more than 6 of these alone too!:)

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    1. haha - yes, 6 sounds about right, I think! : ) I wanted to use smoked paprika - it's got that bacon flavor going on - but I thought I'd keep it "safe" since my son is so picky. These were a hit with him.

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  3. I still remember when I made my first pate a choux! It was a disaster! It took me 5 whole attempts to finally get the consistency right! But once I did, i just couldn't stop making them! These savory ones look sooooo GOOD! I love this classic bacon + cheddar cheese combo! I love the sharpness from the cheddar! Can't wait for the Holidays to start! Also, can you believe it, 2015 is almost coming to an end! WHERE DID THE TIME GO!!!!!!

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    1. Oh yes, I've got that disaster pate a choux experience under my belt and I feel much better for it now...I can't believe the holidays and a new year is just around the corner either! Yikes! : )

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  4. You can never go wrong with the combo of cheddar and bacon...these gougeres look fantastic, Monica.

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  5. Oh my my boys would have inhaled the whole plate in nano-seconds...cheese, bacon..bread. What is not too like here... shared!

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    1. Not that I don't like cheddar and bacon but the combo does seem especially popular with the fellas! Thanks, Bam.

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  6. I just saw a similar recipe somewhere else, these gougeres are beckoning me to make them! Delicious recipe :)

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  7. These tasty little bites will be perfect to serve with cocktails. I have two couples flying down for a visit in a couple of weeks and I know they will love them.

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    1. Definitely worth the effort for guests. Great salty bites with cocktails for sure!

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  8. I made cheddar gougeres for an appetizer party for the first time last New Year's. Everyone loved them, but oddly, I don't think I had any with champagne. I will have to remedy that! The addition of bacon makes cheddar gougeres even better! Though I most often buy turkey bacon (we rarely eat anything pork at home), I am interested to learn more about the lean center cut bacon you use. Do you get that at the butcher counter or prepackaged?

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    1. It's just prepackaged right with the rest of the bacon...it'll be labeled center cut. Hope that helps!

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  9. Give me cheese and bacon and that's all I need! I think I'll make these for my Halloween party this weekend. Thanks for the awesome recipe!

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    1. Have a great Halloween party! I'm sure it will be a fright (I mean that in a good way!). ; )

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  10. You can't go wrong with bacon and cheddar! These cheddar and bacon gougeres look fabulous!

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  11. This looks like a fantastic dish, Monica. Love how gorgeous, delicious and easy they are!

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    1. They're easy to eat, that's for sure! : )

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  12. Hi Monica, I love how you made these savory with the bacon and cheese. I am going to make this for Christmas, did not realize you could make them ahead and freeze them for later or I might of tried something like this years earlier. Thanks!!

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    1. Cheri, I remember the first time I realized you could freeze scones! It was a revelation...and I've discovered so many things freeze so well and now, I am always thinking about that and it always helps me to freeze things since we need small portions at a time...I can't wait for a good occasion to bake the rest of this batch up!

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  13. Look how perfect! The light slightly hollow middle - amazing! I could seriously hurt myself on these - they really look and sound fantastic. The possibilities are endless :)

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    1. They are crispy and then just collapse in your mouth since it's so airy. That's the fun part...you end up being able to eat so many and wonder where it all went!

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  14. Cheddar and bacon is my favorite combo. Yum!

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  15. Oh that's interesting! I thought you filled them with bacon and cheddar but you had it in the actual choux pastry! :D

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    1. I always wondered whether all these heavy add ins would work and the puffs would still rise. It works, even if it's not the very lofty puffs we typically get with plain sweet pate a choux.

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  16. Yum! I love the sound of these cheddar bacon gourgeres; good tip to use sharp cheddar and not a mild cheese! (: I'm super excited for the holidays as well...mostly for the holiday desserts that are entailed hehe

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    1. I can't even remember what I used last time...not gruyere or cheddar, I don't think. Holiday feasting is the best, isn't it! ; )

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  17. Ooo I love the idea of serving these at a holiday party! haha and I had to laugh - my husband is the same way about the bacon / cheddar combo! He gets so excited whenever I use it!! :)

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    1. My son is really the one who'll be like "YES!!" and my husband will just eat the whole twice baked potato, skin and all, when I make it. It's fun to watch. These puffs are good...you can just have one or two and not overload on it.

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  18. Hello awesomeness! Please pass me a basket full of these cheesy gougers! I'm going to have a small party next month. I think these would be really fun to serve. I am glad to know that I can make and freeze them ahead. That would save my life. ;)

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    1. Yes, the make-ahead, leave in the freezer aspect is awesome! I'm looking forward to all the holiday and party talk coming up!

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  19. I love gourgeres! They look delicious - bacon and cheese is a delicious flavour combo! I could eat an entire plate of these right now!

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    1. I know...these salty bites are too easy to eat! Thanks, Jess!

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  20. These look fabulous! I could definitely eat them all up!

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    1. So many pockets of air, you just need at least 6! ; ) Thanks, Amy!

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