Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bacon Cheddar Ranch Gougères

If you've never made pâte à choux, and you're reading this, you owe it to yourself to try it. You may know this dough only as the basis for cream puffs or eclairs, but it makes a fantastic savory little cheese ball known as a gougère. It's such an easy, simple dough, and so versatile, no wonder the French adapt it to both sweet and savory dishes. Even when I think I've done something wrong, my dough always turns out perfect: light, crispy on the outside, with a tender, creamy interior.

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
3 eggs
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.


  1. I've been working on making gougeres lately, so far I've had difficulty in getting that pretty puff. They've still been tasty, just not as nice looking as they should be.

  2. Hmmm. I'm no expert, but my guess would be to check to make sure your oven is hot enough? Make sure it preheats for at least 20 minutes, and I keep a baking stone in mine, I think it helps with heat retention (and I've had no problems with getting mine to puff in 3 different ovens).

  3. Oh, I love your addition of bacon! Wow. I must try these out.

  4. I am always looking for a quick bread or roll to add to a meal. These look perfect!!