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[Comments] (4) LowbrowRustic Cheese Puffs: When I was younger I sometimes tried to make choux puffs and put pudding or ice cream in them for a dessert. But since they always came out flat it was difficult to put things in them. For my birthday party back in July I made savory choux puffs with cheese, and Sumana loved them so much that I kept making them, and eventually I had paid my puff-making dues and my puffs started actually coming out puffed.

Sumana wanted me to put up the recipe even though there's nothing special about my recipe, so here it is. Maybe I can help with technique.

The recipe uses my patented "1 of everything" measurements. I call them Rustic because to save time I dole them out with a spoon instead of a pastry bag, so they are a little lumpy. As all restaurant-goers know, Lumpy equals Rustic and vice versa.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the butter, salt, and pepper in the water and boil it. As soon as it comes to a boil, dump the flour in and stir it into a big ball. Transfer it to the mixer bowl, or use a hand mixer, because you're really going to need to clobber this dough. I'm pretty sure that insufficient clobbering was the cause of the flatness of my earlier attempts (my other guess is cold eggs; I haven't yet run an experiment to see which it is).

Start clobbering and add the eggs one at a time. Once the mixture looks thoroughly clobbered, add another egg. Then add the cheese and clobber some more.

Scoop with a spoon onto a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Parchment paper or a Silpat mat on the cookie sheet help a lot. Knife the puffs when they come out of the oven so they don't get soggy. Then either eat them or let them sit a while, cut them open, and fill with something. My favorite filling right now is duxelle (basically sauteed mushrooms and onions) and MORE CHEESE. I am trying to think of something with kalmata olives. For truly lowbrow cheese puffs you could just fill them with Cheez Whiz.

This makes 24 cheese puffs, or 2 cookie sheets' worth.

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Posted by Sumana at Mon Oct 18 2004 16:44

The recipe is slightly incorrect at the end.

"Then either eat them or let them sit a while, cut them open, and fill with something."

should be

"Then eat them ALL, all thirty of them, within 15 minutes while watching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine."

Posted by Mark at Mon Oct 18 2004 17:21

Nice-looking recipe - I think I'll give it a try. Should one clobber with the goal of introducing air into the eggs, or just thoroughly demoralizing the flour?

"1 cup of eggs, at room temperature (nb. since a large egg is about 2 ounces this is 1 cup of eggs!"

Can't say I can make much sense of that. I'm assuming it's 1 cup of open eggs, or 4 large? 1 cup of closed eggs would be pretty variable (not to mention pretty contrived.)

BTW, sorry to just show up and post as a stranger, but I don't really have any meaningful way of conveying who I am in this context.

Posted by Leonard at Mon Oct 18 2004 19:55

Oops. I went back and forth with how to express the realization that 1 cup of eggs is 4 eggs, and somewhere in the shuffle the actual number of eggs was lost. I fixed it.

I'm pretty sure the purpose of clobbering is to introduce air pockets which will expand when the dough is heated. On the other hand, demoralizing the flour produces gluten, which might add to the tensile strength of the puff. It's the battle of my mediocre understandings of food physics!

Posted by Frances at Mon Oct 18 2004 20:14

It's the incorporation of air. At least that's what I learned in college.

You don't want to clobber a cake, for example, after the flour has been added, or it will be tough. Do all your clobbering in the shortning/sugar phase. But choux are levened by air and moisture, not baking powder, so they can take more glutenizing.

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