This time I decided to bring these little snacks down to the lowest common denominator by making a bacon cheddar ranch version. Yeah, you heard me. I'm taking these babies down a peg or two... or maybe I'm making the bacon-cheddar-ranch combo upscale. Whatever happened, it was delicious. If you're making these for hungry guys, you may consider doubling (or even tripling) the recipe: they never last long in my house.
Bacon Cheddar Ranch Gougères
3/4 cup buttermilk
5 TB unsalted butter
1 cup flour
2 strips bacon, diced
1 cup cheddar, shredded
1/2 tsp fresh thyme, minced
1 TB fresh basil, minced
1/2 tsp buttermilk dressing base powder (I used Penzey's)
salt and fresh ground pepper
Preheat oven to 425° F.
Dice bacon very small, and cook in a small skillet until very crispy. Place on a paper towel to drain.
In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter in the buttermilk. When melted, dump in the flour all at once. Stir briskly with a wooden spoon until dough comes together.
Add eggs one at a time, whisking constantly until blended. Turn off heat, and continue whisking until cohesive and a little bit of a sheen develops. Add in bacon, herbs, cheese, dressing-base, fresh ground pepper and 1/4 tsp salt.
Drop by rounded tablespoons onto a silpat-lined cookie sheet (or pipe with a pastry bag, if you're so inclined). Smooth out the edges with the back of a wet spoon, or wet fingers. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until starting to brown and puffed. Reduce heat to 350° and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
Remove from oven and turn off the heat. Poke bottoms of gougères with a toothpick or chopstick to let additional steam escape, and put back in the oven (still off!) for another 15-20 minutes to dry out a tad.
Serve warm or at room temp. Keeps well in an air-tight container for a couple days, simply rewarm in a 350° degree oven for a few minutes.