Gougère, the splendid hot cheese pastry from the Burgundy region of France, makes a spectacularly easy cocktail snack. Of course it is delicious with a glass of red wine, but we also love to serve it with the best vintage Port we can muster. Traditionally it is baked into a large, wreath-like ring, but it is easier to handle at cocktail time if formed into tiny individual puffs.
Servings: Makes 20 puffs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 8 Tbsp. unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup sifted unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (or half Parmigiano-Reggiano, half Gruyère) plus 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to top puffs (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375°. Lightly butter a baking sheet.

Combine the milk, butter and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and add the flour all at once. Whisk vigorously for a few moments, then return the pan to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the batter has thickened and is pulling away from the sides and bottom of the pan, 5 minutes or less.

Again remove the pan from the heat and stir in 4 eggs, one at a time, making certain the first egg is completely incorporated before adding the second. Then stir in the cheese (or cheeses).

Drop the batter by tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing the puffs at least 1 inch apart.

Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl. Brush the tops of the puffs with the beaten egg and sprinkle with additional Parmigiano-Reggiano if desired.

Set the baking sheet on the center rack of the oven, reduce the heat to 350° and bake until the gougères are puffed and well browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately.