The Star of the Show: Gougères French Cheese Puffs

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The Star of the Show: Gougères French Cheese Puffs

Want to impress the guests at your next party? Then serve them gougères.

Gougères (pronounced goo-zhair) are French cheese puffs, crispy on the outside and bursting with delicious cheesy flavour. The first time you bite into one, it is a definite “wow” moment.

Gougères are made with choux pastry (pâte à choux), the same pastry that is used to make eclairs and profiteroles. That gives them an enticing combination of crispiness and chewiness you don’t find elsewhere.

A Mysterious Origin

No one is sure who invented gougères. Maybe it was Catherine de Medici, who legend says brought pâte à choux with her from Italy in the 16th century. Or maybe it was the town of Sens in Burgundy, where the menu for a 1571 wedding mentions gougères.

But it is the tiny Burgundy village of Flogny-la-Chapelle that makes the most energetic claim, stating firmly that a baker named Lienard invented gougères at the start of the 19th century. Flogny backs up its claim with an annual gougères festival and a special gougères society.

Whoever invented them, the French like to serve gougères with an aperitif or as part of the cheese course, but they are good any time. They are especially popular in Burgundy, where you can find them in many bakeries.

Easy to Make!

Gougères are easy to make — about 15 minutes of prep time, plus 30 minutes for baking. You can choose from recipes from famous chefs like Alain Ducasse and Dorie Greenspan, or well-known food writers like Melissa Clark. Whichever recipe suits your style, your guests are sure to be impressed.

Pile of Gougeres © Wikipedia, Creative Commons License attribution Luigi Anzivino

And the best part is, there’s no frantic prep required right before your guests arrive. Instead, you can make a batch of gougères and freeze them — they can last for several months. Just take them out and pop them in the oven for five to 10 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and voila! They are as good as fresh-baked.

Gougères recipes are easy to modify if you have guests with dietary restrictions. Gluten-free flour can take the place of regular flour, and non-dairy cheeses can substitute for those made with milk.

Whatever way you go, gougères will be a hit at your next party. Just make sure to have plenty — they disappear fast.

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Keith Van Sickle is a lifelong traveler who splits his time between California and Provence. He is the author of the best-sellers "One Sip at a Time" and "Are We French Yet?", both available from Amazon. His new guidebook, "An Insider’s Guide to Provence", was released in autumn 2021. Keith’s observations on life in France can be found on his website.

Comments

  • Robbi
    2021-12-15 18:04:45
    Robbi
    Salut Keith, I hope you are doing well. Thanks for yet another wonderful ‘petit morceau’ of French culture. You have a knack for sharing topics that I am not familiar with and I love this. Malheureusement, maintenant je crève la dalle. Beaucoup de bonnes vœux pour les fêtes à toi et Vicky.

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