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Gougères (Cheese Savouries) from Dragonfly in Amber

Gougères (Cheese Savouries) from Dragonfly in Amber

Dragonfly in Amber

“Indeed, Monsieur le Comte?” Silas Hawkins raised thick, graying brows toward our end of the table.  “Have you found a new partner for investment, then?  I understood that your own resources were…depleted, shall we say?  Following the sad destruction of the Patagonia.”  He took a cheese savoury from the plate and popped it delicately into his mouth.

The Comte’s jaw muscles bulged, and a sudden chill descended on our end of the table.  From Mr. Hawkins’s sidelong glance at me, and the tiny smile that lurked about his buisily chewing mouth, it was clear that he knew all about my role in the destruction of the unfortunate Patagonia.

Diana Gabaldon, Dragonfly in Amber (Chapter 18 – Rape in Paris)

The Comte is hardly the first character to come to mind when you think of Christmas entertaining, but I’ve wanted to do this recipe for awhile, so I’m asking you to grin and bear with me.

Make your own batch of gougères (cheese savouries) and you’ll agree that these crispy, puffy, cheesy, single bites of French culinary delight are worth a little time in bad company.

ragged-V choux

For me, thinking about the Comte also brings to mind another enigmatic Frenchman — my culinary instructor, and the first person I ever addressed as “Chef!,” a man we know here in Outlander Kitchen as Chef P.

An emigrant to my birthplace, Vancouver, Canada, from France in the mid-70s, he had apprenticed and worked in many of Europe’s finest restaurants in the 60s/70s, the heyday of classical French cuisine in the 20th Century.  When he came to Vancouver, Chef P opened a Parisian-style bistro downtown and quickly rose to local foodie fame; even back then, Vancouver was a food-lovers mecca, with fine restaurants serving cuisine from all over the world.

piping bag

I actually dined, with my family, at Chef P’s bistro in 1978.  Even as an 8 year old, I was pretty certain stubborn about my food choices.  When I ordered a steak & frites, medium-rare, my Dad jumped in to correct it with the waiter to medium.  A minor father-daughter face-off — “You won’t eat it!” Dad kept repeating — was averted by the maître d‘, who actually brought the chef out of the kitchen to help with the big decision.

I remember it very clearly:  the chef sided with me.  “If the girl wants it medium-rare, that’s what she should have,” he said, in broken English.

Thirty years later, I walked into his classroom for my first day at culinary school as a mature student.

piping bag full

It took me exactly 5 minutes into Chef P’s introduction to realize who he was.  With that realization, any residual worries about whether I was doing the right thing — moving away from home and husband (and back in with my mother) for 6 months to follow an almost 20 year yearning to attend culinary school — vanished.

Coincidence/convergence/coming full-circle.  Call it what you will.  I’m old enough now to know better than to disregard a blaring sign like that.

So, I relaxed and enjoyed myself.  And learned everything Chef P cared to teach.


His English was still pretty broken, even 30 years on.  He rarely followed a recipe as printed in the official curriculum, and he was mostly oblivious to the resulting confusion that followed him everywhere.  He was often quick to anger when any of my fellow, younger, students asked him to repeat his latest unintelligible instruction, but for some reason, I got away with almost anything.

I’m not sure what endeared me to him.  I never told him the story of eating in his restaurant all those years ago, but the two of us clicked anyway.  In many ways, he was my Master Raymond.

I wouldn’t mind sharing Chef P’s aura, no matter that he is a bit crotchety.  All good cooks are.

gougeres (cheese savouries)

The choux pastry that these gougères are made from is one of the recipes that Chef P made us repeat over and over.  As the son of a Paris bakery owner, Chef P had a lot of experience with this centuries old, double-cooked pastry that is versatile enough to also form the base of eclairs, profiteroles, croquembouches, crullers, beignets and even some gnocchi.

Among all of those, as a savoury girl, gougères are my favourite by far. Traditionally served at Burgundy vineyards as an accompaniment during wine tastings, these most certainly would have been at home on the table at Jared’s place in Paris.

They’re wonderful finger food for your holiday party…if it’s easier, bake them earlier in the day, then recrisp in a warm oven just before serving.

gougeres (cheese savouries)

(Click on the link below for a printable version of the recipe.)

Gougères – Cheese Savories from Dragonfly in Amber

Yield: approx 2 dozen

Light, cheesy puffs of (almost) air.  The perfect finger food for your next cocktail party or potluck.

  • Water – 1 Cup
  • Butter, cubed – ½ Cup
  • Salt – ½ tsp
  • Dry Mustard Powder (optional) – ½ tsp
  • All-Purpose Flour – 1 Cup
  • Eggs – 4 Large
  • Grated Cheese (Gruyere, Aged Cheddar, etc) – 1½ Cups (6 oz)

Ensure the rack is in the middle position and preheat the oven to 425° F.

Combine the water, butter, salt and mustard powder (if using) in a medium saucepan over med-high heat.  Bring to a rolling boil.

Remove from the heat and, using a wooden spoon, vigorously stir in the flour until a smooth paste forms.  Return to heat over med. low and stir constantly for 3-5 minutes to dry out the dough.  It’s ready when it’s shiny and stiff.

Transfer the dough to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle.  Beat the dough on med-low for 1 minute, until the steam dissipates. Alternatively, use a handheld mixer, or beat the dough by hand with a wooden spoon.

With the machine on, add the eggs one at a time, waiting until the egg is absorbed and the dough smooth before adding the next.  Scrape down the bowl as needed.  When all of the eggs are incorporated, you will have a smooth, creamy batter that hangs from a sp0on in a ragged V.  Beat in the cheese.

Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment or silicone mats.  Use a piping bag fitted with a medium-sized round tip to pipe out ping pong ball-sized mounds, at least 1” apart.  Alternately, drop the dough by teaspoonfuls onto the sheet if you don’t have a piping bag.  Wet your finger tip with cold water and smooth down the peaked tops.

Bake one sheet at a time.  (If there’s room, refrigerate the second sheet while the first bakes.)  To prevent the dough from collapsing, do not open the oven door for the first 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, turn the sheet in the oven, reduce the oven temp to 350°, and continue baking until golden, about 10-15 more minutes.  The gougeres should feel lightweight and hollow.
Cool on a wire rack.  Reheat the oven to 425° before baking the second batch.

Serve warm.  Store leftovers in the refrigerator and recrisp in a warm oven before serving.

Ith gu leòir! (Eat Plenty)


  • Strong, aged cheeses work best for this recipe.  Let’s just say Mozzarella Gougeres won’t knock your socks off.  Gruyere is traditional, and my favourite.
  • I love adding a little freshly ground, coarse black pepper or cayenne to the dough instead of the dry mustard powder for a little extra kick.
  • When I say LARGE EGGS, I really mean it for this recipe — not extra large.  If you can’t find LARGE, buy medium instead.  Too much egg will cause the puffs to cave-in.  And if they do cave in, don’t sweat it!  They’ll still be delicious…with character. 😉
  • Gougeres can be any size you like.  Marble-sized (to garnish soup), or big tennis ball-sized ones (which make great fancy sandwiches). Adjust baking times as required
  • I have never tried it, but I’m told you can freeze the piped out, uncooked dough, then bake it direct from frozen.  Let me know if you try!


  1. Taking On Magazines
    December 6, 2012 at 5:42 am

    Wow, what a great story. There really does seem to be a good amout of karma in your and Chef P’s relationship. And, he taught you well. Those gougères’ amazing.

    • Theresa
      December 10, 2012 at 10:48 am

      Karma brought Chef P and me together…no doubt about it.

  2. Gisela
    December 6, 2012 at 7:47 am

    I am definitely making this to bring to my mother in law’s party! Thank you for a wonderful recipe! Slainte!

    • Theresa
      December 10, 2012 at 10:48 am

      They’ll be a MIL-pleaser, I promise! 😉

  3. Marci
    December 6, 2012 at 9:22 am

    I can’t wait to try these. Smoked Gruyere is my favorite!

    • Theresa
      December 10, 2012 at 10:47 am

      oh, Marci…you just made my mouth water! I love smoked cheese as well.

  4. Jeanne
    December 6, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Hi Theresa,
    What a great story! I have made this recipe for years, however, I never heard of adding cheese. I make them large and fill them with different things. Usually chicken salad with red grapes and almonds, curry chicken salad works well too. They are crowd pleasing and I am always asked to bring them again. I can’t wait to try the smaller cheesey version. I will bring them to the tasting room Christmas party and serve them with the Pinot Noir. Yummmm 🙂

    • Theresa
      December 10, 2012 at 10:46 am

      I love little choux puffs filled, Jeanne! I have a crab salad recipe that is to die for in choux. I hope you like the gougeres…similar, but a slight change of pace.

  5. Christiane KYPRAIOS
    December 6, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Very interesting indeed ! Here (in France I mean) gougères are very popular, we serve them at cocktail party, mostly filled with gruyère, they are very light and tasty. I wonder what is Chef P.’s whole name ?… Where was his restaurant in France ? Thanks, greetings from France. Christiane

    • Theresa
      December 10, 2012 at 10:45 am

      I love gougeres…especially when they’re french made! LOL

  6. Lara
    December 7, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Oh yummy! I am so gonna try to make these! And I love your culinary school story. Instantly reminds me of a professor I had that nobody could stand and he DID NOT give A’s. Well I adored him and got an A in every class I took from him. Some people just understand each other better when their passions for what they do are truly the same. Your Chef sounds lovely.

    • Theresa
      December 10, 2012 at 10:44 am

      The shared-passion definitely helps, Lara…but I think a well-timed smile also does wonders with those characters. LOL

  7. ML
    December 8, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    Oh I think I have some of my home made cheddar down in the cave that should be great used in this recioe

    • Theresa
      December 10, 2012 at 10:41 am

      ML — that makes me envious beyond belief! A cheese cave…sigh.

  8. Ashley Miller
    January 3, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    I’m on my third read of the series (currently halfway through dragonfly In Amber), and these bad boys just came out of the oven! Oh my goodness, they are delicious, airy, and very satisfying! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!

  9. Lorna
    February 27, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    I have a batch of these just out of the oven, & amazingly enough, they look almost like yours! I’m hosting our book club tomorrow evening (we get together for our love of appetizers, wine, & general scintillating conversation as much as to discuss our book) so I plan to serve them then. Thank you for broadening my culinary horizons as well as introducing me to JAMMF!

    • Theresa
      February 28, 2013 at 2:20 pm

      Lorna, how fabulous! You’ve got me smiling from ear to ear…have fun with your bookclub tonight!

  10. Ruth
    September 17, 2014 at 6:22 am

    When do you add the cheese?

  11. Lauren
    November 9, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    Wow those look good! Do you think they could be made with gluten free flour? Maybe almond flour? Two of my friends have gluten allergies and I try to avoid gluten. Suggestions?

    • Theresa
      November 10, 2014 at 12:56 pm

      Hmmm…I have my worries that it won’t work, but I always encourage people to try, especially if you’re a good GF baker. I don’t have any experience with GF baking, but my worry here is that all of that beating of the dough is to develop the gluten, which works together with the eggs to provide lift.

      I would be tempted to start with a GF flour mix that contains additives to mimic gluten, rather than “plain old” almond flour.

      Good luck…and let us know if you try! Pics please. 🙂

  12. Carol Mackey
    November 22, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    Hello, Theresa, so looking forward to making these this year–they will be a wonderful addition to the appetizer list for Thanksgiving–and I can just see my 11-year old grandson (and 24-year-old granddaughter) scarfing them down. They are the ultimate cheese-lovers in our family–there will be about 17 (never know about the “extras”) gathering together in CO this year, with the rest celebrating with “the outlaws” around the country.
    Growing up in the Detroit, MI area, we had a wonderful candy company that made the world’s best Hot Fudge Sauce–Sanders was the name–and sometime in the mid ’50s they came up with the most delicious dessert–new to the Detroit area, anyway–and they christened it a “Cream Puff Hot Fudge”. Of course, the cream puff was made with a sweet choux pastry. My favorites were filled with chocolate ice cream, and at Christmas, peppermint candy ice cream, slathered in their wonderful Hot Fudge Sauce. Sanders also made their own ice cream. Whenever my sweet tooth is giving me fits, this is one of my favorite “pacifiers”, but with home-made HFS–the company sold to another local candy maker and they changed the recipe, adding a noticeable amount of corn syrup (yuk) and increasing their distribution, sacrificing quality for quntity, IMNSHO. Thanks for reminding me–I’ll have to make some over the holidays, as well as your yummy gougeres.

  13. Stephanie
    December 24, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    I just got done making several dozen of these delightful savouries!! If I can control myself from eating them all while wrapping gifts and watching Christmas in Connecticut, I will be bringing them to my mom’s for Christmas tomorrow. Thank you so much for the recipe!! I made both Gruyere and aged Cheddar. I used ground mustard in the Gruyere gougéres (and I’ve been driving my kids nuts saying that over and over today, because it rhymes, lol), and I used freshly ground black pepper in the cheddar. Every batch came out wonderful!! Airy and light and sooooo tasty!! Thank you again and Merry Christmas!

  14. M Woods
    January 16, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    Loved the recipe. I’m trying the frozen after piping. We’ll see. 🙂

  15. Evie LePelley
    April 4, 2015 at 5:31 am

    I just found this recipe just the other day! I am planning a premiere party for the 2nd half of Outlander tonite! Im not the best cook but I bet I can do this one. Thank you so much for the recipe . I have a feeling that they are just going to be so yummy!

  16. Carol Mackey
    December 11, 2015 at 9:33 pm

    This year I’m doubling the batch–my (then) 15 year old grandson scarfed down half last year’s batch before everyone arrived!! _He_ loved them.I don’t think The Ultimte Cheese Lovers even got a whiff . . .! =D

  17. Ryan
    April 11, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    I made these little balls of joy for my premiere meal this weekend, and I could not have been more happy with with them. I was afraid that this recipe wouldn’t turn out here in the Highlands of Colorado, but without any modifications they came out wonderfully airy and cheesy. I think they may become a regular on our table for this season. I’ll have to at least double the batches though. They went so quick! I’ll have to try some other cheeses next time. I wonder if a blue cheese would work at all or if it would be too moist?

    • Theresa
      April 11, 2016 at 2:25 pm

      That’s great to know, Ryan! I have zero experience with altitude baking, so I’m glad they worked. I wouldn’t use all blue cheese, but you could certainly incorporate some into a batch made with cheddar or gruyere. I bet they’d be awesome!

  18. Michelle
    May 8, 2016 at 7:41 am

    I have made these several times now – great recipe! I have frozen the piped grougeres on small pieces of parchment, placing them in the single serve plastic cups in which pudding, jello or fruit are sold. I just remove them from the cup, placing them on a cookie sheet, on it’s parchment and bake. I can bake 1 or 2 or a bunch.
    Thank you for this recipe, Theresa!

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