Cheesy, crisp, and airy, gougères are impossible to stop at just one. These savory cheese puffs are typically served warm to accompany wine tastings in France, but there’s little wonder as to why they’re so beloved all across the country. Served as appetizers or as part of a cheese platter, they’re ideal for the holidays, as they’re easy to make and sure to impress your guests.
No one is sure who developed the first gougère, but the pastry seems to find its roots in Burgundy, one of France’s best-known wine regions; the first mention of gougères comes from a 1571 wedding menu from the region’s town of Sens.
Some say gougères originated from the little town of Flogny-la-Chapelle, still in Burgundy, where a 19th-century Parisian baker named Liénard won locals over with his cheesy gougères, which were then ring-shaped. Still today, Flogny-la-Chapelle organizes an annual gougères festival and has a tasting guild for gougères.
In Burgundy, gougères can be found in most bakeries in a larger format (about 1 1/2 inches). The rest of France is more used to making them at home in smaller, bite-sized versions.
One Base, Many Pastries
The making of gougères starts with the making of a choux pastry—known in French as “pâte à choux.” To create savory gougères, the soft pastry dough is then shaped into little mounds on a baking sheet and topped with cheese before baking. For shaping the mounds of choux paste, it’s easiest to use a piping bag; however, you can also use a cookie scoop or two large spoons.
If you’re interested in French cooking and baking, pâte à choux is a great recipe to add to your repertoire. Pâte à choux is the base dough not only for making classic savory gougères but also for chouquettes (pearl sugar-topped puffs), profiteroles (puffs filled with vanilla ice cream and doused in chocolate sauce), éclairs (oblong puffs filled with cream and topped with flavored icing), and others.