A big plate of puffy gougères is a classic accompaniment to Champagne and sparkling wine. The deep savoury quality of the cheese in the pastry, enhanced by the baking, matches perfectly with the yeastiness of the fizz. It's all about umami, the fifth taste, most commonly associated with the back-palate satisfaction of soy sauce: both cheese and Champagne are rich in umami, so putting them together in your mouth is a double whammy of savoury satisfaction. In this recipe for gougères, the flavour and taste are boosted considerably by the addition of thyme, rich Gruyère and tangy goat's curd. A pretty, light and frothy bubbly - a blanc de blancs, say, or a young vintage Champagne - might not have enough weight to match the cheesy puffs, so I'd recommend a late-disgorged sparkling. As you know, Champagne and Champagne-style wines are bubbly thanks to a secondary fermentation in the bottle. After the yeast cells have done their job, they settle as lees or sediment inside the bottle, eventually breaking down and releasing yeasty aromas and umami-rich tastes into the wine. The longer the bottle sits in the cool of the cellar before it is disgorged (to separate the lees from the clear wine), the finer, deeper and more complex the flavour will be.
They may be light, but Gruyère gougères pack a savoury punch that only late-disgorged sparkling wine can match.
- 45 gm butter, coarsely chopped
- 150 gm (1 cup) plain flour
- 4 eggs
- 2 tsp thyme
- 140 gm Gruyère, coarsely grated
- 150 gm goat’s curd
- 1Preheat oven to 190C. Bring butter, 250ml water and a large pinch of salt to the boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and beat with a wooden spoon until mixture pulls away from sides of pan (2-3 minutes). Remove from heat, add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then stir in thyme and 120gm Gruyère. Spoon tablespoons of mixture onto a tray lined with baking paper, scatter with remaining Gruyère and bake until golden (10-12 minutes).
- 2Pierce a small hole in the base of each gougère with a small sharp knife, return to oven and bake until almost dry (6-8 minutes). Cool slightly.
- 3Whisk goat’s curd in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, then transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 1cm nozzle. Pipe goat’s curd into the base of each gougères and serve warm.
Note Gougères can be made a day ahead and stored in an airtight container. Reheat at 190C for 5 minutes before filling and serving. Drink suggestion by Max Allen