Gougères, or cheese puffs, are the savoury cousin of cream puffs. They are light and airy, and make the perfect party snack because you can make them in advance. My version includes a lemony and creamy feta and dill filling.
If I’m looking to put in minimal effort, but still impress the socks off my friends/coworkers/family, I make one of two things – cream puffs (like this and this) or cheese puffs, aka gougères. Both are made from a classic French pastry called Pâte à Choux (pronounced “Pat a shoe”) and the most basic form of the pastry requires 4 simple ingredients that you will already have on hand – water, butter, flour and eggs.
These ingredients form a thick dough that can be either piped or spooned into little mounds, and as they bake, the liquid ingredients evaporate, causing the pastry to puff up and create a slightly hollow inside. This makes them perfect for filling with sweet cream, or in my case with gougères, a cheesy dill concoction.
The pastry used to make gougères differs from that of a cream puff or éclair, in that cheese is added to the dough to give it flavour, and it’s often eaten without a filling. If you know me, then you know I love cheese of all kinds, and look for any excuse to incorporate it. As much as I love gougères hot and fresh out of the oven, I knew that filling them would only elevate their already impressive characteristics.
I borrowed some inspiration from another party favourite of mine, Smoked Salmon Rillettes, and made a filling of fresh dill, freshly-squeezed lemon juice, cream cheese, and added in some salty feta for good measure. It took every ounce of willpower to keep my fingers out of the cheesy filling before I piped it into the gougères.
Quick, easy, and impressive, French cheese puffs, or gougères, make a great appetizer for holiday parties, potlucks, or just because! Serve them as is, or pipe them full of whipped feta and dill for an extra special treat.
Choux pastry adapted from David Lebovitz.