For once this craving isn’t actually mine. This one’s for my friend Katy. More years ago than I really care to remember I made some savoury choux buns which I filled with a really thick cheese sauce. Ever since Katy has repeatedly asked me to make them again but for one reason or another I’ve never got around to it.
I have since learned the fancy French name for these is gougères – far more classy than cheese puff.
I love butternut squash and I’m led to believe that it’s a ‘super food’. But I also love fatty treats…so why not combine the two. I’m not suggesting that the addition of a little butternut squash to choux pastry makes it a health food by any stretch of the imagination but it does make it a little easier to justify on the occasions when you do indulge. Most importantly though, these taste amazing.
I’m pretty proud of them – they were a total experiment but they worked first time. Initially I wasn’t really sure if I would be substituting the squash for flour or moisture so I altered the amounts of both and it seemed to work really well. There are two ways that you can serve these – either warm and filled with creamy parmesan sauce or you can make smaller puffs and sprinkle them with grated parmesan before baking to produce little bite size nibbles. (Maybe to serve with my Sage Gimlet..?)
I have to confess that I didn’t make the filling for these, I left that up to my husband. He is rarely given access to the kitchen. Partly because I love to cook but also partly because I just get increasingly frustrated with his insistence on ridgedly following recipes and never tasting as he cooks. However he makes brilliant roux-based sauces because he has far more patience for adding the milk than I do. Resulting in wonderfully smooth sauces every time. Marvellous!
Makes 12 puffs for filling
60g mashed roasted butternut squash
80g sifted plain flour
1 tbsp finey chopped fresh sage
50g plain flour
40g grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp wholegrain mustard (optional)
Pre-heat your oven to 200°c.
Using a large-ish pan, melt the butter into the water over a moderate heat. Try not to let the water come to the boil.
Tip in the flour and beat well with a wooden spoon to ensure that the mixture is smooth. Return the pan to the heat for a moment or two to cook out the flour. Add the mashed squash and chopped sage and mix until evenly distributed.
Now this next bit requires a bit of elbow grease so feel free to rope in anyone that might have been loitering around the kitchen for too long. Beat the eggs into the warm mixture one at a time. Continue beating until the dough is soft and glossy and starting to come away from the sides of the pan.
Spoon or pipe blobs onto a well greased baking tray. If you don’t want to fill the pastry then just use little bites sized blobs and sprinkle a bit of grated parmesan onto them. Bake for around 25 minutes or until the gougères are golden brown and fully puffed up.
Poke a hole in the top of each with a sharp knife to let the steam out (or they will go soggy and collapse) and place on cooling rack.
If you want to fill the gougères (and why wouldn’t you?) then it’s a good idea to make the filling whilst the pastry bakes.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Add the flour and mix well, cook for a minute or two to get rid of the raw flour taste. Gradually beat in the milk, a little at a time. If you happen to have some cream in the fridge and want to make the sauce really rich and luxuriant then there is no harm in adding a splash now.
Once all the milk has been added mix in the cheese, pepper and mustard (if using). Let the cheese melt into the sauce, you are aiming to have a very smooth, very, very thick almost custard like sauce. It needs to be stiff enough not to dribble everywhere when you fill the gougères.
I haven’t put any salt in the recipe because for me the saltiness of the parmesan is adequate but by all means give the sauce a taste and add a bit if you feel that it needs it.
Depending on how pretty you want your gougères to look either spoon or pipe the filling into the little choux pastry puffs, through the steam hole if it’s large enough or make a little slit somewhere inconspicuous.
You can get away with reheating these a little if you need to. About 5-10 minutes at 180°c will do it.
I served mine with some more roasted butternut squash and a green salad. Yummy!
I know that you wouldn’t, but if you have any sauce left over don’t throw it away. You can use it as the base for a spinach roulade. I had several tablespoons left over so I beat in an egg yolk, an extra couple of teaspoons of flour and a handful of chopped spinach then folded in a whipped egg white. I spread this out on a small tray, greased and lined with baking parchment. I baked it at 200°c for 25 minutes and filled it with whipped cream cheese, fresh herbs and sundried tomatoes and rolled it up. It’s not the prettiest dinner that I’ve ever served up but it was very tasty.