Homemade cheese puffs are light and airy bites of concentrated cheese, baked into a charming little puff.
This post is sponsored by Milk Means More and the United Dairy Industry of Michigan. All opinions are my own.
My family has a few staple appetizers that have been present at every holiday gathering so long that I scarcely remember a get together without them. Sausage Pinwheels are a given. Pfeffernusse Cookies are another. Why yes, my family considers Christmas cookies an appetizer, why do you ask? Cheese Puffs are another family staple and they’re always a little different, depending on who brings them to the party. Part of the reason is that the base recipe is just so dang versatile.
Homemade cheese Puffs, or as the French call them, gougères, are made from light pastry that, with a little practice, is fairly easy to make.
The base dough is a simple pâté à choux. Don’t let let all the French accented words freak you out. Pâté à choux is a simple dough, made from just four everyday ingredients: milk, butter, flour, and eggs. That’s it! A few simple tweaks in method, and a variety of tasty morsels are at your fingertips.
- Sautè tiny teaspoons of the dough in a little butter and a few fresh herbs, and you have Parisian gnocchi.
- Press the dough through a box grater to make tiny balls, boil in salted water, and in a few minutes you have the little German egg noodles referred to as spaetzle.
- Pipe the dough into balls, bake, and then fill them with vanilla pastry cream or custard before drenching the tops in chocolate ganache, and you’ve got profiteroles.
- Follow the same process for profiteroles, only pipe dough into 3 to 4 inch strips before baking and you’ve got èclairs.
- Split the dough balls in half, fill with vanilla ice cream and top with hot fudge sauce for hot fudge cream puffs.
- Roll the dough to a half inch thickness, cut it into squares, fry until golden, coat in powdered sugar, and you’ll end up with a pile of beignets (think French doughnuts) that will rival anything found at the famous Cafe du Monde in New Orleans.
A dash of seasonings and a healthy handful of cheeses added to the basic pâté à choux dough results in homemade cheese puffs!
Homemade cheese puffs are brimming with concentrated flavors of cheese. They may not look like much, but know that every buttery, cheese-laden bite is sheer bliss. I have never once brought a plate full of homemade cheese puffs to a party and had any left to bring home. The cheesy, two bite delicacies are usually the first things to disappear from the appetizer table.
The only tricky part of the recipe is the technique in which the four ingredients are combined. In reality, it isn’t all that difficult once you see it done. Seriously. I wouldn’t say you could do it if I didn’t honestly believe that it was entirely possible.
The key is to cook what starts out as a batter until it becomes a really thick, soft dough. Next, the eggs are stirred into the dough to loosen it up a bit, providing airy lift when they’re baked. For a visual representation of how the process should look, I describe each step in detail in the printable recipe, as well as including photos of each step.
Once the technique is mastered, all sorts of loveliness is at your fingertips! If none of the examples that I’ve listed above catch your fancy, then feel free to play around to suit your tastes.
I’ve often make homemade cheese puffs into a heartier morsel, serving them for brunch or at baby/wedding showers. I use slightly larger cheese puffs, filled with yogurt based chicken salad. Add a simple Caesar salad and lunch is served!
Once you’ve mastered making homemade cheese puffs, prepare to be the hit of every party.