Posted on December 30 2011

Tartine Baking Project: #28 Gougères

I love New Year’s Eve!  There’s something about the anticipation of waiting for that final countdown that gets me so very excited.  When I was little I’d ask my parents to wake me up, in case I fell asleep, to see it all go down.  They’d comply, except for that one year I woke up the next morning and realized it was, in fact, morning, and no one had the decency to wake me up to count down with Dick Clark.  I angrily watched the recap on the morning news, furiously spooning in Cheerios on the verge of tears.  Really knowing me, means you understand watching the ball drop is seriously important. 

When ringing in the new year you should be eating really good food.  I’ve had my eye on these gougères for a few weeks.  The perfect little appetizer for our cocktail party!  I took it upon myself to give myself a little lesson, as I was so enamored with this recipe!  Pâte à choux (choux pastry) is the most versatile thing in the pastry chef’s kitchen.  It’s magical stuff – the same thing that makes sweet pastries like éclairs, can be turned into a savory treat, like these Gruyère-infused cheesy goodies.  To sum up the lesson, it’s basically been around for a very long time, and a pastry chef from the eighteenth century modified the recipe and his product looked like cabbages – hence the name choux, which is French for cabbage. 

My new ceramic egg cradle!  Not only is it so nice to look at, it makes quickly grabbing an egg from the fridge actually quick.

Maybe I’ll make a little sign to place by the gougères at the party – “It’s thyme to celebrate the new year!”  I probably won’t do that. 

The choux paste is just milk, butter, salt and eggs.  I am constantly shocked by the infinite possibilities those ingredients can mix together to create.  Mind is blown. 

A new clear bowl for my stand mixer – really classin’ up my kitchen thanks to Santa Dan.

Putting these together was a gazillion times easier than I had anticipated.  I don’t know if it’s because I am logging some serious hours in the kitchen, or because they’re so simple to make.  I’d like to confidently say it’s the former, but I’m pretty sure it’s the latter.  I did not take any pictures piping them on the parchment, but I will say I’m happy I invested in the “nice” pastry bag.  I think that’s a good general rule to live by in the kitchen.  Don’t invest in crap.  Actually, that’s a good rule for everyday life. 

They’re light, fluffy little miracle puffs.  Dangerous in bite-sized portions – you blink and you’ve ingested a dozen.  I baked a handful of these little guys this afternoon for us to have a little taste-testing session.  Just when I thought these could not be more amazing, turns out they’ll freeze well.  So, the rest are coldly awaiting their New Year’s debut.

Thank choux, thank choux very much.  Ugh…I’m sorry.  I just had to say that. 

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