The Food Network channel had a new chef for a while with a show called ‘Baked in Vermont’. There were some interesting recipes, and I saved a couple to try, and I found places where the recipes made assumptions. I decided that I should publish the recipe with the thoughts I had about the assumptions. The first recipe was for Cheese Puffs.
This recipe is one of many variations on Pate a Choux. That is the pastry that is used for all sorts of things like cream puffs. To make the Cheese Puffs, you add hard cheeses to the dough before baking.
Once I established in my mind that this is a basic pate a choux recipe, I decided to look around at variations to see how important it is to follow this particular version. I don’t think it is important; if you have a recipe, there is one check to make and then you can probably use your recipe.
That check is the measure of flour. I found that most of the recipes used 1 cup (120 grams) of all-purpose flour. The variations are in the amount of butter, and sugar which I think is a wash.
So, if your recipe calls for 1 cup of flour, then plan on adding 1.5 cups of grated hard cheese after you add the eggs and get them into the dough. This recipe calls for 1 cup of sharp Cheddar and 1/2 cup of Gruyere.
If you have never made a pate a choux before, this recipe is fairly good and you could stop before adding the cheeses to use the recipe for another purpose.
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter cut into pieces
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour
- 3 to 4 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a sauce pan containing 1/2 cup of water, add the milk, butter, sugar and salt. Stir over low heat until the sugar, butter and salt have all melted. Raise the heat to medium and bring to a healthy simmer.
- Take from the heat and immediately add all the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens, is smooth and no flour lumps remain. Return to the heat and cook, stirring, until a film forms on the bottom of the pan. Continue stirring, careful not to scrape up the film, for a minute or two more.
- Transfer the mixture to a stand mixer. Mix for a minute to dissipate some of the heat. Add the eggs one at a time with the mixer running. Pay attention to the consistency of the paste. It should be smooth and shiny, so you may only need 3 of the eggs.
- Fold in the cheeses
- Using a small cookie scoop, scoop generous mounds onto the parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them an inch apart. Place in the oven. Immediately reduce the heat to 375 degrees F and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cheese puffs are golden brown.
Okay, here are some of the thoughts I had on the recipe. The original recipe put the cooked flour into a food processor for adding the eggs. When I did that, the second egg caused the knife blade to rise and come off the spindle. I decided to try using the stand mixer for adding the eggs and it worked well- so I changed that part of the recipe.
I used my silicon mats the second time I made the recipe and they work as well as the parchment paper. I have used both my #50 scoop and my very small scoop (#128?) and both work well. I cooked the smaller size puffs for a full 25 minutes and the larger size could probably used a minute of two more.
I tried to cook that pan at the same time as the last pan of small puffs, and there seemed to be a problem in not rotating the pans halfway through. The top pan shielded the bottom pan and so they were not as well done as I would have liked.
Several of the recipes I found overheat the oven before cooking the pate a choux as does this recipe. I found that the overheating in a modern oven seems unnecessary. I tried using a preheat temperature of 375 degrees F, and there was no problem. The puffs did puff up and cook as I wanted them to cook. The shell of the puff hardens with cooking and they keep the puffed shape nicely.