That’s another appetizer that will disappear in minutes and that you can prepare in advance; bake it 30 minutes before you start serving drinks so they will be piping hot or reheat if you like to do the job ahead; this is a Lebanese version of the French gougères, those mini-choux puffs with gruyère or emmenthal cheese. (Keep in mind that they are best if baked on the spot).
INGREDIENTS: About 50 little cheese puffs
- 1 cup of water
- 6 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
- pinch of salt
- 5 3/4 ounces of flour
- 1 cup of eggs (I used 4 large eggs and 1 egg white to make one cup)
- 1 tablespoon of zaatar
- 1 cup of halloumi cheese, grated (can substitute swiss or Gouda or any of a similar type of cheese)
- 1 egg yolk if desired to brush on the shells
What is zaatar? It is a spice mix sold at middle-eastern grocers or online ethnic food purveyors. In Lebanon, most people like to make their own mix, with the hand-picked wild oregano or zaatar, sumac, sesame seeds and salt. Click hereif you want to know how to make the mix and how to grow zaatar.
- Preheat the oven to 425F. Prepare two cookie sheets by lining them with parchment paper.
- Mix the zaatar with the grated Halloumi cheese in a bowl. Set aside.
- Place the water, butter and salt in a saucepan and heat to boiling; when boiling, drop all the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to cook the flour, until the flour paste holds together and leaves the sides of the saucepan.
- Remove from the heat, and wait a couple of minutes; then plop the paste into a mixer or (my preference) a food processor. Get it going and start adding the eggs, one at a time, until mixed. Add the cheese and zaatar(previously mixed together).
- Plop the paste into a decorating bag or just use a small spoon and form little even-sized mounds on the parchment-paper lined cookie sheets; you should have around 50 mini-puffs. You can glaze them with a beaten egg yolk, to give them a more golden shine.
- Place in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes; reduce the oven heat to 375F and bake 15 minutes or so longer until they are all puffed up and feel dry to the touch. Serve immediately, or cool, store in a tightly sealed plastic container and freeze.
NOTE: Doc has a great video on how to make gougères on his site. To check it out, click here.
Recipe for the puffs from Julia Child The French Chef Cookbook, adapted.
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