Dill and Cheddar Cheese Puffs

Here’s something new I learned this week – savoury cream puffs are a thing! These dill and cheddar cheese puffs are called a gougère, a baked savoury choux pastry mixed with cheese. I feel like I should have known about this sooner, but I guess better late than never, right?

The idea of making cream puffs has always seemed intimidating to me, but then I stumbled across this recipe for dill and cheddar cheese puffs. I read through the instructions and it seemed really straight forward. I wasn’t intimidated at all! Then I realized that it’s just a cream puff, but with cheese.

Now that I know how simple this is, I’m pretty sure I’m going to be going on a choux pastry baking spree. Not only will I be making these again, but I’m also going to have to make some cream puffs and eclairs.

This recipe uses just a few basic ingredients: flour, water, butter, eggs, cheese and fresh dill.

cheddar cheese and dill puff ingredients measured out on the counter

Start by combining the water, unsalted butter and salt together in a large saucepan (I didn’t have unsalted butter, so I just used salted and reduced the amount of salt I added to a pinch). Bring to a simmer over medium heat until the butter melts.

melted butter in a saucepan

Add the flour and stir quickly and continuously, until the mixture comes together and pulls away from the sides of the pot (about 2 minutes). Remove the pot from the heat and allow it to cool for about 3 minutes.

flour and melted butter stirred together until smooth

Add 4 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. You’ll notice that the batter goes kind of chunky and starts to separate when you first add the egg. Just keep mixing and it will turn smooth.

adding eggs to the flour mixture

After you’ve added all 4 eggs, your batter should be a thick, smooth, and pipeable consistency. If it’s too stiff, you can add a little more egg. Whisk the extra egg up in a small bowl first so the yolk and white is combined, then add a teaspoon of it to the batter. Mix it in well, then check the consistency again. If it’s still too stiff, add another teaspoon of egg.

The original recipe I read said the batter should hold soft peaks. After adding 4 eggs, the batter still seemed too stiff, so I added almost an entire extra egg, 1 teaspoon at a time, until it reached what I thought could be categorized as a soft peak.

You want the batter to be at a point where if you pipe it, it should still hold its shape. I think I ended up adding too much egg, as my batter didn’t hold its shape, and instead started to spread a bit once it was left sitting on the tray for a couple of minutes. I think something a little firmer than soft peaks is the consistency to aim for.

batter stirred together until smooth

Once you’ve got the consistency of the batter right, add the finely grated cheddar cheese and fresh dill.

adding the grated cheese and dill to the dough mixture

Stir it all together to combine. Your batter is now ready! Time to start shaping some puffs!

cheese and dill stirred into dough mixture

You can either transfer your batter to a piping bag, and pipe some little mounds onto your parchment lined baking tray, or you can just use a spoon and drop heaping tablespoon sized blobs of batter onto your tray.  A small cookie scoop also works well for ensuring you get an even and consistent sized amount of batter for each puff.

Something to note is that these little puffs take 25-30 minutes to bake. I practiced some very poor time management skills when I attempted making these. I had to leave the house 40 minutes from when I put these in the oven, so I didn’t have time to bake two trays.

I initially put them on my smaller baking tray, then realized I had more batter than could fit. I attempted to lift the parchment sheet and transfer them to a larger baking tray, and in the process most of my dough blobs ended up running together. The clock was ticking and I had to try and frantically reshape them.

I was quite sure I had botched this entire process, and was feeling quite distraught when I finally shoved the tray in the oven.

dough shaped into balls on a parchment lined baking sheet, ready for the oven

I was convinced this experiment was going to be a failed attempt, but halfway through baking, I peeked through the oven door and witnessed a puffy little miracle. The puffs were actually puffing! I was so excited, I did a little happy dance and had to restrain myself from pulling them out of the oven before they were actually done baking.

cheddar cheese and dill puffs fresh from the oven

Steam inside the puffs is what causes them to rise, so you want to make sure you bake them long enough that the insides are dry. If they are still too moist, they may collapse when they are removed from the oven. On the outside they should be golden brown, crispy on the surface, and of course, puffy!

close up of cheese puffs on a baking tray

The next time I try these, I would make them a little smaller in size, and try to find a sort of smokey, herby, savoury filling to pipe inside of them as well.

cheddar cheese and dill puffs on a plate


Dill and Cheddar Cheese Puffs

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4-5 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups finely grated sharp cheddar
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh dill

Instructions

  • Pre-heat your oven to 375°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Combine the water, butter and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat until the butter has melted. 
  • Add the flour and stir quickly and continuously for about 2 minutes, until the mixture comes together and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 3 minutes.
  • Add 4 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition until the batter is smooth. After adding all 4 eggs, the batter should be just stiff enough to hold soft peaks. If it is too stiff, whisk an additional egg into a bowl, then add 1 teaspoon of it to the batter. Mix well to combine. Continue to add 1 additional teaspoon of egg until the batter has reached the right consistency.
  • Stir in the grated cheese and chopped dill.
  • Drop heaping tablespoons of batter onto your parchment lined baking sheet at least an inch apart. 
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes until puffy, golden brown, and crispy on the surface. 

Notes

Recipe Source: Epicurious

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