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I made these puffs back home. Home is where the heart is, and where la famille waits with empty, hungry stomachs to taste and to critique and to decide whether my recipe will live forever in the halls of ignominy, or will be dubbed “un gagnant.” Many daughters have a hard time taking all their mothers’ suggestions seriously, but I think I may have grown up. Maman, when she tasted these carrot and brie puffs straight out of the oven, took a knife, stabbed a puff, and stuffed some extra bits of brie into the middle. The steam melted it, and voila, one bite later, there was delicious, crispy brie on top of the puff, and melting, oozing brie on the inside. She’s a genius.
Gougères are French cheese puffs, made from the same dough used for profiteroles and eclairs. They’re puffed full of air on the inside, and crisp on the outside with a touch of doughiness. So good, you could eat a million. I normally make them with Gruyère or Parmesan, but I think carrot and brie goes so well together. These puffs have carrot and chervil in the dough, and brie melted into the top and, if you like, in the center. Served directly from the oven, they’re the perfect afternoon snack, but are also elegant and innovative enough to make an appearance at a cocktail party, or as something to munch on with drinks before dinner. Good as gold.
- 1 carrot, peeled, and cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch disks
- 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh chervil
- 1 to 2 ounces brie, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- Adjust the rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Add carrots to medium saucepan and cover with cold salted water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Boil for until extremely tender, about 20 minutes, and drain.
- Add carrots and 1/2 cup water to blender and blend until completely smooth.
- Place carrot mixture in a medium saucepan and add the butter. Cover, and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Take pan off heat, and dump in flour. Stir vigorously with wooden spoon to combine. Return pot to medium-low heat, and stir with wooden spoon until dough pulls away from sides of pan and forms a ball, about 1 minute.
- Place dough in a bowl, and add 1 egg at a time, stirring with wooden spoon to thoroughly incorporate each egg. Stir in chopped chervil. Dough will be thick and sticky.
- Use a small ice cream scoop to make about 20 to 22 balls of dough on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Press one piece of brie into center of each ball. Use a wet finger to press down any edges of pastry that may burn.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 350° and cook until puffed and golden, about 30 minutes longer.
- Serve immediately, or make a slit in the puff and insert another cube of brie while the puffs are still extremely hot. Close, and the brie will melt inside.
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