In Honor of New Years: Freezer Gougères

Dreading the appetizer prep for your next party? Why not plan ahead for your next gathering and stock up your freezer? These apps make it easy to pull together a stellar spread in a hurry without skimping on the homemade touches.

Gougères

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If you’ve never had them before, gougères are fluffy French cheese puffs made with a savory version of the dough used to make cream puffs and eclairs. I had never thought about making them until I saw a recipe and its persuasive accompanying photo in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table, which mentions gougères pair well with Champagne. A glass of sparkling wine and a warm gougère — what could be more chic?

Makes about 36 gougères

1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup water
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (about 6oz.) coarsely grated cheese, such as Gruyère or cheddar

Prep Day: Bring the milk, water, butter, and salt to a rapid boil in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan over high heat. Add the flour all at once, lower the heat to medium-low, and immediately start stirring energetically with a wooden spoon or heavy whisk. The dough will come together and a light crust will form on the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring—with vigor—for another minute or two to dry the dough. The dough should now be very smooth.

Turn the dough into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or into a bowl that you can use for mixing with a hand mixer or a wooden spoon and elbow grease. Let the dough sit for a minute, then add the eggs one by one and beat, beat, beat until the dough is thick and shiny. Make sure that each egg is completely incorporated before you add the next, and don’t be concerned if the dough separates—by the time the last egg goes in, the dough will come together again. Beat in the grated cheese. Once the dough is made, it should be spooned out immediately.

Using about 1 tablespoon of dough for each gougère , drop the dough from a spoon onto the lined baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches of puff space between the mounds. Using about 1 tablespoon of dough for each gougère, drop the dough from a spoon onto the lined baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches of puff space between the mounds.

The best way to store gougères is to shape the dough, freeze the mounds on a baking sheet, and then, when they’re solid, lift them off the sheet and pack them airtight in plastic bags.

Serving Day: Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Bake them straight from the freezer—no need to defrost—just give them a minute or two more in the oven.

Bake for 12 minutes, then rotate the pans from front to back and top to bottom. Continue baking until the gougères are golden, firm, and, yes, puffed, another 15 to 20 minutes or so. Serve warm, or transfer the pans to racks to cool.

Gougères are good straight from the oven and at room temperature. I like them both ways, but I think you can appreciate them best when they’re still warm. Serve with kir, white wine, or Champagne.

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