Cheesy bites II

Fueling my insatiable desire for all things cheese, cheesy bites has spontaneously become a mini-series. Part II is where I encourage you to get fancy and make French cheese puffs, known as gougères. Don't worry: they're not as difficult or pretentious as they sound. (I tried that out with a "neither...nor" first, but that did sound a bit pretentious.)

You'll notice that my cheese puffs are a bit knobby and uneven. That's mostly because I didn't have a pastry bag handy—or even a Ziploc bag that I could fashion into a makeshift pastry bag. Oh well, I say—and so should you. Chances are everyone will be too busy stuffing their faces to notice anyway.

Gougères (or Cheese Puffs)
125 millilitres water
40 grams salted butter, cubed
Healthy pinch of chili powder or modest pinch of cayenne
70 grams flour
2 large eggs
90 grams cheese (I used grated grana padano + crumbled blue)

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat the water, butter and chili powder until the butter is melted.

Add the flour all at once and stir vigorously until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the saucepan and forms a smooth ball. Remove the mixture from heat and let it rest two minutes.

Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring quickly to keep them from cooking. Keep mixing until smooth. Stir in the grated cheese.

At this point, you can either scrape the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a wide, plain tip—or simply use a spoon to mound the mixture into cherry tomato-sized balls on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes until the gougères are golden brown. Serve warm.

Source: Based on a David Lebovitz recipe.