Feliz día de Reyes! Happy Epiphany Day!
One of my New Year’s blogging resolutions is to continue incorporating Puerto Rican ingredients into my posts. While some times these flavors will be shown in their traditional preparations, it’s also fun to integrate them into dishes from other cuisines. Today’s recipe, gougères, is a traditional French cream puff that can be enjoyed as as sweet treat or as a savory snack or appetizer. Instead of using Gruyére or Cheddar cheese, I made these with queso del país – Puerto Rican white cheese.
Queso Blanco del País
Queso del país is a firm, salty cheese made with local cow’s milk. Since it is not aged, it’s flavor is also mild. It’s usually sold in eight ounce squares or rounds.
This cheese is delicious pan fried or served with candied tropical fruits (guava paste and casquitos, candied papaya), or in any dish that needs salty bite. Since it doesn’t melt, but rather soften when heated it’s perfect to use in stuffings, roulades – anywhere you wouldn’t want cheese to completely ooze out.
Gougères – The French Cream Puff
Gougères, also known as cream puffs, are airy baked dumplings made of milk, butter, flour and eggs. The first three ingredients of the dough – technical name patê a choux – are cooked on the stove top. Eggs are added to enrich the dough and to provide leavening, which results in the light texture. Patê a choux can be piped into strips to make eclairs or just spooned into a baking sheet for a more rustic puff.
A caveat for these tasty bites? It takes around 25 minutes to bake them. There is less of an instant gratification when compared with their deep fried cousins, bolitas de queso. On the bright side, the dough can be prepared in advance and frozen. And the cheesy smell drifting from the oven? Tantalizing!