Entertaining this holiday season? You need our cheese puffs
It’s holiday entertaining season, so we say bring on the fat and carbs!
After all, navigating the minefield of office parties and in-laws and dinner parties and cookie swaps (when you’d rather be on the couch with Netflix and a pint of ice cream) requires a bit of comfort food (not to mention a stiff drink, but that’s another recipe for another time). Still, if you’re entertaining, you can’t totally slack off. You just need to marry your need for fatty comforting carbs with something dressy enough to serve in polite company.
So we give you blue cheese and mushroom cheese gougeres. Or just call them cheese puffs; they’re delicious no matter what you call them. They’re basically dough balls studded with chopped mushrooms and crumbled blue cheese. They are delicious right from the oven or at room temperature. And as an entertaining bonus, they can be prepped ahead and frozen on the baking sheet. Just add a few minutes baking time when you’re ready to cook them off.
Blue cheese and mushrooms not your style? Substitute pretty much any cheese you like, ditch the mushrooms, add fresh herbs or scallions. Whatever. It all works.
And while your mother-in-law or boss may judge you, we promise to look the other way if you feel the need to power eat these like popcorn during the party. Our gougeres are a judgment-free zone.
BLUE CHEESE AND MUSHROOM GOUGERES
Start to finish: 50 minutes
Makes 25 to 30
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
8 ounces mixed mushrooms, finely chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
Ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
Heat the oven to 400 F. Coat 2 baking sheets with cooking spray.
In a large skillet over medium-high, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the mushrooms, shallots and a hefty pinch of salt. Cook until tender and lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan over medium, combine the remaining 7 tablespoons butter, the water, milk and a hefty pinch of each salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then add the flour all at once. Stirring with a wooden spoon, mix well and continue to cook until the mixture becomes a ball that separates from the pan, 1 to 2 minutes.
Scoop the dough ball into the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes to allow the mixture to cool slightly. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly between additions. Stir in the reserved mushroom mixture and the blue cheese. Scooping by the tablespoonful, place walnut-sized dollops on the prepared baking sheets, leaving 1 1/2 inches of space between each.
Alternatively, transfer the dough into a large zip-close plastic bag. Snip off one of the lower corners and pipe (squeeze) the mixture into place on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.
Nutrition information per serving: 70 calories; 45 calories from fat (64 percent of total calories); 5 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 45 mg cholesterol; 70 mg sodium; 4 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 0 g sugar; 3 g protein.
Alison Ladman is a chef, food writer and recipe developer for The Associated Press. She also owns The Crust and Crumb Baking Company in Concord, New Hampshire.