Politics aside, Washington, D.C. is an incredible place for many reasons. If you have never been, it is a must see city for young and old. I have been to D.C. many times over the years but more recently I went with my boys and it was even more amazing seeing it through their eyes. Our nation’s capital on the Potomac River, bordered by Maryland and Virginia, is laced with rich political history, well-known museums and gorgeous architecture. It is a city with much to do, most of it free to the public.
While visiting DC, we went to a lovely restaurant called Garrisons on historic Barracks Row in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Here, Chef Rob Weland serves up wonderful New American cuisine through his rustic farm-to table style. Our whole meal was delicious. While at Garrisons we had a twist on an old favorite of mine, something I have not made in many years but love–Gougéres. These were unlike any I had ever had before, they were simply sprinkled with poppy seeds, served straight from the oven, and they were truly fantastic.
Gougéres are a baked savory pastry made from a classic choux dough mixed with cheese. There are numerous variations of gougéres but the most traditional ones are simply made with only Gruyère cheese and there are wonderful. Gougéres are typically served as an appetizer or hors d’oeuvre and I think are a great make-ahead option for any dinner party or a special holiday meal. Pate a choux (or choux pasty) is a pastry you learn to make early in culinary school, and it is essential. Choux is a light pastry dough used to make profiteroles, croquembouches, eclairs, French crullers, beignets, and these tasty little gougéres–to name just a few. This essential French pastry is typically piped with a pastry bag into various shapes and sizes allow for great versatility, both sweet and savory.
With pate a choux, steam is the leavener. Cooked first on the stove top, the doughs high moisture content later dries out in the oven, forming little pockets inside. The end result is an airy, crispy–and irresistible–light pastry. This is not Garrisons’ poppy seed gougéres recipe; this is my version. If you serve them warm, I can virtually guarantee your friends and family will devour them.
Poppy Seed Gougéres
- 1 cup cold water
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup (packed) shredded Gruyère cheese
- 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 teaspoon water
- 1/4-1/3 cup poppy seeds
- Step 1 Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Step 2 In a medium size sauce pot, add the water, butter and salt and place over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat and add the flour. Using a wooden spoon, quickly mix until well incorporated.
- Step 3 Place the mixture back over medium heat and cook, stirring vigorously until the mixture begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and form a ball, about 2-3 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring, until the dough dries out somewhat and no longer looks as pale and sticky (instead looking more shiny), about 2-3 more minutes. Note, you should also begin to see a slight film on the bottom and sides of the pan, this is an indication that the dough is cooked. Remove the pan from the heat and cool slightly.
- Step 4 Once the dough has cooled for a few minutes, add the eggs, one at a time and mixing thoroughly in between. Mix in the Gruyère.
- Step 5 Place the dough in a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2″ pastry tip. If you do not have a pastry bag, I suggested using a large ziplock bag instead, just cut one of the corners and insert the pastry tip.
- Step 6 Pipe 1-inch rounds about 2-inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets.
- Step 7 Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the gougéres with the egg wash. Sprinkle generously with poppy seeds.
- Step 8 Bake the gougéres until puffed and golden, about 20-22 minutes. You will know the gougéres are done when you tap them and they have a slightly hollow sound.
- Step 9 Serve warm. Note, for dinner parties you can also make the dough a few hours prior to baking off, if prefered. You can also bake the gougéres and reheat them right before serving if needed.