If you have never had gougeres (say goo-ZHEHRZ or GOO-zhehrz), they are like little profiteroles or cream puffs, but savory with lots of cheese mixed into the pate a choux batter.
The savory filling for these little guys is a mushroom bechamel or “bechamel aux champignons” that I learned to make from the chef I worked under in one of the restaurants, and he learned it when working at The French Laundry.
That’s to say these savory holiday appetizers have an Excellent Pedigree. You’ll love the combination of crisp, cheesy shell and the rich, creamy filling. A perfect little cocktail party bite.
Flavor Profiles and Flavors of France
Like most of us who say we like a particular kind of food–Italian, Thai, Indian, etc–I have never been to the countries where those cuisines originated.
That means, by and large, what I like are the general flavor profiles presented to me as a Westerner when I go out to eat:
- Italian: basil, oregano, tomato
- Thai: lemongrass, wild lime, ginger
- Indian: cumin, turmeric, fenugreek
And then there’s France. I haven’t been there either, but when I think France, I think Herbes de Provence and French pastries and lavender, mother sauces and pastry cream.
I think wine and butter and peasant food. And I also think The French Laundry.
I have a very tenuous connection to that venerable French-American restaurant in the Napa Valley. One of the chefs I worked for staged under Thomas Keller at The French Laundry for a relatively short period of time. I’m sure what he learned during his tenure there could fill volumes.
Chef rarely talked about his time at The French Laundry, most likely because he was too busy yelling at all of us and producing truly sublime food. If he could just have gotten the whole yelling thing under control. I mean, it’s not like he staged under Gordon Ramsey.
Gougeres with Savory Bechamel Filling
One little treat I learned from that chef that he learned in Yountville at The French Laundry and then had me make for private parties was the magical combination of a warm gougere–a savory cream puff with cheese added to the dough and sprinkled on top before baking–filled with thick, creamy mornay sauce.
Cheese sauce in a crispy cheese puff. Cheese in cheese. Sexy, right?
For these appetizers, I decided to take a spin on that classic combination and use as many French flavors as I could shove in there without the whole thing turning into a muddy mess.
Adding All the French Flavors to Gougeres
I added a touch of Herbes de Provence to the dough along with a generous amount of gruyere cheese.
And rather than make a mornay sauce, I decided to go with a bechamel aux champignons.
That all sounds very schmancy (most French terms sound pretty schmancy even if they aren’t), but all I made was a thick white sauce blended together with duxelles–a minced mushroom-shallot-thyme spread.
It’s like super creamy, super concentrated cream of mushroom soup, but infinitely better than what you can get in a can.
For filling the gougeres, I do love my Bismarck tip, but you can use any tip with a smallish opening. You may have to poke a hole in the side with the tip of a knife first, though.
How to Fill Your Savory Cream Puffs
When making eclairs, oftentimes people just cut them in half horizontally and then pipe in the filling.
But for small profiteroles and their savory gougere cousins, it’s best to fill them without cutting them open.
- Attach the tip to the bag and put it down into a tall glass. I like a pint glass for this personally, but any tall, fairly wide glass will do.
- Turn the cuff of the bag over the rim of the glass to hold it in place, and then scrape the filling into the bag.
- Twist the end of the bag to compact the filling, and then, holding the gougere in one hand insert the tip into its side and squeeze with steady pressure. You will be able to feel the gougere fill up, because it will get heavier.
- Squeeze slowly so you don’t end up having the filling burst out of the side. But if that happens, consider it your treat and pop that guy in your mouth!
What to Serve with Gougeres
These crispy little cheese puffs make a great cocktail party treat, so serving them alongside other classic appetizers makes sense.
And for beverages, a glass of Cava would be lovely, or an easy bubbly cocktail like a Kir Royale.
A Note About Measurements
Don't let its small price and small size fool you. The Escali Primo is an accurate and easy-to-use food scale that I have used for years. It's easy to store, easy to use, has a tare function, and easily switches between grams and ounces/pounds for accurate measurements.
I really hope you love this recipe for crispy, cheesy, fancy cheese puffs, you guys! If you make some, please share a photo with me, either in the PCO Facebook Group or on instagram by tagging @onlinepastrychef and using hashtag #pcorecipe. Thanks, and enjoy!
Gougeres with Savory Mushroom Filling
For the Gougeres
- 3 oz water
- 1 oz whole milk
- 1 ½ oz unsalted butter
- heavy pinch of salt
- ½ teaspoon Herbes de Provence
- 2 oz all purpose flour
- 2 eggs , beaten
- 3 oz finely grated Gruyere cheese , divided
For the Beschamel aux Champignons
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- heavy pinch of salt
- freshly ground pepper (black or white--either is fine)
- 1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
- 6 oz 3/4 cup whole milk
- ¼ cup duxelles (recipe follows)
For the Duxelles
- 1 cup cleaned and trimmed mushrooms , sliced or cut into pieces
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter divided
- 2 Tablespoons minced shallot
- salt and freshly ground pepper , to taste
- about 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 2 Tablespoons dry white wine or dry sherry
For the Gougeres
- Preheat your oven to 450F and set a rack in the middle. Be proud of yourself that you remembered to do this first.
- Bring the water, milk, salt, Herbes de Provence and butter to a boil.
- Dump in the flour all at once and cook over medium heat, stirring manically, until the mixture resembles mashed potatoes, pulls away from the sides of the pan and into a big clump and leaves a slight, dry film on the inside of the pan, about 2-3 minutes.
- Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or prepare to stir madly awhile longer.
- Mix for a minute or so to cool off the dough, then add almost all the beaten egg (reserve about a Tablespoon) and mix in thoroughly. Test to see if batter runs very slowly off the end of the beater and ends in a point. If it doesn't flow or it ends in a raggedy point, add the rest of the egg and beat it in. You should be good to go.
- Thoroughly mix in 2/3 of the grated cheese.
- Drop about 2 teaspoons of the dough into tiny mounds on a Silpat- or parchment-lined baking sheet. Leave about 1" of space between each wee mound. You can pipe them if you want, but it goes quickly with spoons too.
- With a wet finger, press down any little points of dough that might be sticking up.
- Divide the last ounce of cheese evenly among the wee gougeres and bake for ten minutes.
- Reduce the heat to 375F and bake another 10 minutes. You may need to cover the pan loosely with foil at the five-minute mark.
- Reduce the heat to 325F and bake for another 10 minutes for a total of 30 minutes.
- Turn off the oven, crack the door open and let the gougeres cool to just warm.
- Fill each puff with about 1-2 teaspoons of the bechamel aux champignons.
For the Bechamel
- Melt the butter over medium heat. When it's sizzling, add the flour.
- Stir well and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes or until it's a golden blonde color. Lightly season with salt and pepper.
- Pour in the milk slowly, whisking all the while to prevent lumps.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking frequently.
- When it comes to a boil, reduce the heat and keep it at a low simmer, whisking occasionally, until it has thickened.
- Put the bechamel in your blender and add the duxelles. Blend on low speed. It doesn't have to be completely smooth, but it needs to be smooth enough that you can pipe it without little bits getting stuck in your piping tip. Cool to warm.
For the Duxelles
- Mince the mushrooms very finely in the bowl of your food processor. If you have a mini one, now would be the perfect time to use it.
- Melt half the butter over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms, seasoning with salt and pepper, and stir until they release their juices. Cook some more, stirring, until the mushrooms are dry again and have darkened in color.
- Add the second half of the butter along with the minced shallot and the thyme.
- Cook until the shallots have softened.
- Add the wine and cook until dry.
Did You Make Any Changes?
And there you have it. Enjoy the crispy-cheesy-creamy-mushroom goodness!
Thanks for spending some time with me today. Take care, and have a lovely day.