Feta Gougeres

Feta adds a new twist to a classic recipe. A beautiful hors d’oeuvre served hot out of the oven, or as an accompaniment to soup or salad. Quick preparation makes them a last-minute wonder.

1 cup water
1 stick butter, cut into chunks
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
4-5 large eggs
1 1/2 cups feta, drained, crumbled
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1/4 cup Gruyere, grated
Pepper, to taste

[Note: Have all ingredients (but one of the eggs) measured and ready as this process moves fairly quickly. Also, do not be afraid of a salty feta, as the saltiness diminishes during baking. Taste the dough before baking and add salt to taste.]

Place racks in bottom and top thirds of the oven. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter two baking sheets.

In a heavy saucepan, combine water, butter and salt and, stirring, bring to a full boil. Once butter is melted, reduce to medium heat. Add flour all at once and cook, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon, until mixture pulls away from the side of the pan (about 30 seconds). Cook for another minute or so, removing excess moisture. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well with a wooden spoon after each addition. (You may not need to use the fifth egg, so don’t crack that one unless you need it.) The dough will separate with the first few eggs then will pull together, ultimately becoming smooth, glossy and able to hold a soft peak. Add final egg if the dough is very stiff.

Stir in cheeses and pepper.

With a small ice cream scoop, place small rounds of dough on baking sheets, about an inch apart. Bake for 30 minutes, switching shelves and rotating pans in the oven after 15 minutes. Finished gougères will be golden brown, puffed and crisp.

Makes about 30 gougères.

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