gougères, the little french cheesepuffs

While on the hunt for an appetizer recipe to bring to a wine and cheese party we were invited to recently, I stumbled across this post by Deb of Smitten Kitchen. Her site is an amazing wealth of recipes, great writing, and food photography. And, as often happens, one of the dishes featured in her post caught my eye.

I am a serious novice when it comes to French cuisine, but attempting to make some classic French dishes is on my running list of things I want to accomplish in the kitchen. I’m not sure that gougères are a classic French appetizer, but they are indeed French, and it took me several tries to pronounce it correctly, so I think they count.

The basis of the dish is the choux paste, a very sticky pastry dough. I turned to the food science expert, Harold McGee, and his book On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, for some background information on choux paste and gougères. This is what Harold says:

Choux is the French word for “cabbage,” and choux pastry forms little irregular cabbage-like balls that are hollow inside like popovers…It provides the classic container for cream fillings in such pastries as cream puffs (profiteroles) and éclairs, and also makes such savory bites as cheese-flavored gougères and deep fried beignets, whose lightness inspired the name pets de nonne, “nun’s farts.”

Choux paste was apparently invented in late medieval times, and it’s prepared in a very distinctive way. It’s a cross between a batter and a dough, and is cooked twice: once to prepare the paste itself, and once to transform the paste into hollow puffs.

So, wow. I learned something. I just love that book. It’s such a great resource in the kitchen. Plus, who knew I’d learn about nun’s farts?



choux paste for gougeres


The recipe was very easy to follow and quite quick, too. I baked one batch on parchment paper and the other on a Silpat baking mat. The ones baked on the parchment puffed up more and looked more golden brown on top. The others came out puffy but then fell a bit. Both tasted delicious – savory, filled with the rich taste of the Gruyère, the sweet smokiness of the Spanish paprika, and saltiness from the sprinkling of fleur de sel on top of each puff.

Gougères have been added to my make-again list. It was such a simple, tasty appetizer to make – if you ignore the hassle of cleaning the sticky choux paste out of the food processor, that is.

gougeres 2

gougeres 3

Yield: Approx 30 puffs.



1 cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash cayenne pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon paprika [I used the Spanish paprika, Pimenton de la Vera Dulce.]
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups grated Gruyère
Fleur de sel or other coarse salt to sprinkle on top


Bring the milk, butter, salt, and cayenne to a boil in a saucepan. Remove from heat, add the flour all at once, and mix vigorously with a wooden spatula until the mixture forms a ball. Return the pan to the heat and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 1 minute to dry the mixture a bit. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor, let cool for 5 minutes, then process for about 5 seconds.

Add the eggs and paprika to the processor bowl, and process for 10-15 seconds, until well-mixed. Transfer the choux paste to a mixing bowl and let cool for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with a reusable nonstick baking mat or parchment paper. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the grated Parmesan cheese, then add all of the remainder and all of the Gruyère to the choux paste. Stir just enough to incorporate. Using a tablespoon, scoop out a level tablespoon of the gougère dough, and push it off the spoon onto the cooking mat. Continue making individual gougères, spacing them about 2-inches apart. Sprinkle a few grains of the coarse salt (or Fleur de sel) and a little of the reserved Parmesan cheese on each gougère.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until nicely browned and crisp. Serve lukewarm or at room temperature.

From Jacques Pépin in Food & Wine, discovered via Smitten Kitchen.

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21 Responses to “spicy zucchini and ricotta fritters”

  1. It’s cold here today too….but there are no flip flops in sight! It’s about 40degrees! lol. I miss those “cold” Florida days 😉

    This has all my favorite ingredients! And can you believe that I am Italian and have never made any fritters?! Unheard of right?

    I will definitely have to pin these for later!

    mmmmmmmmmm 🙂

  2. Brian @ A Thought For Food — November 11, 2011 @ 9:42 am

    I think I’m just now able to embrace fall foods… I do miss summer, but when I see these leaves, it just makes me so happy.

  3. Karriann Graf — November 12, 2011 @ 9:17 pm

    Yikes I’d be freezing in Key West if it hit 37′ degrees, lots of houses don’t have heat since normally our winters are mild. Stay Warm up there.

    These fritters look awesome 🙂

  4. Adrienne — November 12, 2011 @ 10:08 pm

    I had no idea Florida got that cold! These look fab, by the way.

  5. Paula — November 12, 2011 @ 10:55 pm

    I have a hard time believing that you would have any moments left unproductive in your day let alone an hour! These fritters look wonderful.

    Take heart in knowing on December 21st the days start getting longer again and you’ll be enjoying the sights and sounds from your front porch rocker before your know it 🙂

  6. Chris — November 13, 2011 @ 11:19 am

    ha ha, yeah I had a hard time feeling sorry for my in laws when they mentioned how “cold” it was in Florida yesterday….and out on their boat in the afternoon.

    I like these fritters. I made them before but not with the jalapenos like yours, I LOVE that. These would be good on their own or as the literal base of another recipe. Like maybe sauce on a plate, then your cakes, and then topped with strips of spicy grilled chicken. Can you tell you got my mind thinking? ha ha

  7. DessertForTwo — November 14, 2011 @ 11:00 am

    What a great vegetarian dinner for two idea! Thanks 🙂

    I’ve been thinking about you lots, sweet lady. I hope you are still sitting on your rocker, enjoying the last few moments of the day, sunset or not, you deserve some relaxing ‘you’ time.

    Lots of love 🙂

  8. Rachel — November 14, 2011 @ 2:26 pm

    These look awesome. Do you ever put any kind of sauce with these? What do you recommend?

    I am embarassed to say that I don’t think I’ve ever had a fritter. Are they similar to potato pancakes? The picture reminds me of potato latkes. YUM.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — November 14th, 2011 @ 5:10 pm

      Yes, they’re probably most similar to a potato pancake. I’d think a garlic aioli would be nice with these.

  9. Nutmeg Nanny — November 15, 2011 @ 1:43 pm

    These fritters look great! I always grab up zucchini every time I see it. I can’t help it. I love it so much!

  10. Sook — November 16, 2011 @ 3:37 am

    I love zucchini fritters. They look great!

  11. Adria — February 3, 2012 @ 12:44 am

    I made these tonight, and they were a complete hit! What a great recipe and simple dinner. Thanks!

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — February 3rd, 2012 @ 7:41 am

      I’m so glad, Adria! Thanks for the feedback.

  12. Lori — August 5, 2012 @ 10:31 am

    These look so good! I just “discovered” them (when they were featured in Gojee’s Top Three email). I was looking for another excuse to stop by the farmers market and I am so happy to have it now! I need zucchini!

    I was wondering if you had an approximate measurement for how much shredded zucchini would be in 2 medium? I grew up with garden grown zucchini that Mom never picked before they were at least 18 inches long (no exaggeration, really) so the tiny things in grocery stores are so cute to me. I’m not really sure how much a normal “medium” zucchini would produce. haha

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — August 5th, 2012 @ 10:40 am

      Hi Lori — glad you found the site! 2 medium (grocery-store) zucchini would yield between 2-3 cups shredded zucchini.

  13. Kevin — August 5, 2012 @ 10:56 am

    Hi – Do you have to squeeze the zucchini of moisture after it is shredded? Thanks. Can’t wait to try this.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — August 5th, 2012 @ 11:11 am

      Nope, you don’t. I let mine rest on paper towels to sop up any extra moisture, but you don’t have to squeeze it.

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