Monday, November 27, 2017

Chipotle Cheddar Puffs

Is there any better comfort food combination than a cup of tomato soup plus a toasted cheese sandwich? Maybe yes, maybe no, but here's a variation that took top honors recently - Roasted Tomato/Red Pepper Soup with Chipotle Cheddar Puffs. Yes indeed, spicy gougeres win out over toasted cheese sammies any day.

While these little bites make amazing stand-alone treats, they outperform as sandwich "breads". Crisp, crunchy exteriors surround moist, soft and airy interiors. Chipotle and extra sharp cheddar cheese add an extra bite to the overall taste, but are not overly assertive. Add a thin slice or two of ham or turkey, a few green leafy things, perhaps a squirt of your favorite mustard or hot sauce and shazam! you have a delightful appetizer, tailgate or apres ski treat, and the perfect accompaniment to a warming bowl of soup. 

Savory puffs may look impressive, maybe even appear challenging to prepare, but really they are unbelievably easy to make. Only 9 ingredients and 5 short steps... 

  1. Boil milk, water, butter and seasonings.
  2. Stir in flour 
  3. Whisk in eggs
  4. Add grated cheddar 
  5. Bake ... enjoy

See, ridiculously easy, though you don't have to share that fact with non-cooks. 

Cheese Puffs rock, no matter what the season. After a long holiday weekend of overindulgence, this soup and sandwich combo would be a welcome change from yet another round of turkey sandwiches and turkey soup. Not that you need an excuse to bake and share these little bites of deliciousness at any time.  

Chipotle Cheddar Puffs
makes 8 - 9 puffs

1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper (or cayenne or ancho)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 cup grated extra sharp Cheddar cheese

Before you begin: preheat the oven to 400 f. Grease a baking sheet or line with parchment or a silpat.

  1. Add the first 6 ingredients (milk to chipotle pepper) to a heavy small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. 
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the flour all at once. Use a wooden spoon to beat the mixture until it comes together and leaves the side of the pan. Continue to beat for a full minute to incorporate all of the floury bits.
  3. Remove the mixture to a bowl before adding the eggs, 1 at a time. Whisk in each egg thoroughly after each addition. 
  4. Add the cheese and stir to incorporate.
  5. Drop the batter in 8 or 9 equal portions onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake in the upper third of a preheated 400 f oven until crisp and golden, about 20 to 23 minutes in my oven.
Serve immediately, or transfer each puff to a baking rack to cool (this avoids a soggy bottom). If made a day ahead, store overnight in an airtight container and reheat for 5 minutes at 400 f.

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