Parmesan Gougeres

makes about 35 small puffs

Some recipes for gougeres call for water and some for milk.  I've made them both ways and I do prefer milk in the recipe - I think it's a little richer.  You can also swap out the Parmesan for any cheese you like - Gruyere is the traditional cheese used, but you can try cheddar also, or a combination.

1 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (or any other cheese you like) plus about 2 tablespoons more for sprinkling on the tops

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt the milk and butter together.  Add the salt and cayenne pepper. Add the flour all at once and stir, cooking over medium heat, until the dough comes together in a ball.  Cook for about a minute more, until the dough is dry.  Remove from heat and transfer to a food processor.  Allow to cool for about 5 minutes.

With the food processor running, add the eggs, one at a time, allowing the dough to absorb each egg totally before adding the next. Add the 1 cup of cheese and process. Your dough will now be very loose. Transfer this to either a pastry bag fitted with a large circular tip or, if you don't have a pastry bag, you can transfer to a large ziplock bag with a corner cut off. Alternatively, you can just transfer to a bowl if you don't want to pipe the mixture.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking pans with parchment paper or Silpats.  Either pipe the dough onto the sheets or, using two spoons, spoon the dough onto the sheets in small mounds. Sprinkle cheese on top of each mound.

Bake the puffs for about 20 - 25 minutes, until golden. ( If you are baking both sheets at once, rotate the pans about 10 minutes into the cooking time. Bake 10 minutes more and then switch pans again and bake 5 minutes more.)

The puffs will keep for a couple of days at room temperature, stored in a plastic container.

If you want to make these ahead, you can let the puffs cool and then store in ziplock bags until ready to use. No need to defrost when you want them - just pop onto a baking sheet and reheat for about 5 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

The Italian Dish