This gougères recipe, based on classic pâte à choux dough, features Gruyère cheese, a bit of thyme, bacon and a dash of dried mustard baked into a savory hors d’oeuvre. They might sound fancy, but these can get into the oven in the time it takes it to preheat.
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Position rack in middle of oven. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet pan with parchment paper. Lightly coat paper with nonstick spray; set pan aside.
Combine the water, butter and salt in medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat and immediately remove from heat.
Quickly stir in the flour all at once. Keep stirring with a wooden spoon until the batter comes together. Place over very low heat and keep stirring. You want the dough to dry out. This will take 1 minute or less; the pâte à choux should come cleanly away from the sides of the saucepan. Scrape dough into bowl of mixer fitted with flat paddle attachment.
Turn on low-medium speed and add 2 eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to be absorbed before continuing (third egg is for egg wash). The batter should be smooth, golden yellow, and firm enough to hold a shape when mounded with a spoon. Beat in mustard and thyme, then beat in 2 ounces of the cheese and the bacon until combined.
Scrape dough into pastry bag fitted with tip or use scoop to form small rounds, about 1¼ inches across, spaced evenly apart on prepared pan. Dip fingertip in water and lightly press down any peak that has formed on the puffs, which happens often when piping. Whisk remaining egg well and brush on top of each gougères. Sprinkle remaining ½ ounce of cheese on top of pastries.
Bake for about 15 minutes or until light golden in color. Insert a sharp knife into the side of each puff to allow steam to escape, turn down the oven to 375 degrees and continue cooking for 5 more minutes. They should be puffed, round, light golden brown, and dry.
Cool pan on rack for a minute or two. Puffs are ready to serve and are best served warm.