1 1/4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (see notes)
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh-ground pepper
Coarse sea salt (see notes)
How to Make It
In a 3- to 4-quart pan over high heat, bring 1 1/2 cups water and the butter to a full rolling boil. Remove from heat, add flour all at once, and stir until mixture is a smooth, thick paste with no lumps. Add a quarter of the beaten eggs at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition until dough is no longer slippery. Stir in cheese and pepper.
Spoon dough into a large pastry bag fitted with a plain 1/2-inch round tip. Pipe in 48 equal mounds on two cooking parchment-lined or buttered 12- by 15-inch baking sheets. (Alternatively, drop dough on sheets in slightly rounded tablespoon-size portions.) Sprinkle each mound with a few grains of coarse sea salt.
Bake in a 400° regular or convection oven until dry and well browned, about 30 minutes. Serve warm (see notes).
Nutritional analysis per puff.
These easy puffs are especially good made with strongly flavored, aged white English, Irish, or Canadian cheddar. We like to use an imported sea salt with pretty, crunchy crystals, such as fleur de sel, Halen Môn, or Maldon, but any coarse sea salt will work. The puffs can be made up to 1 month ahead and frozen; cool, then freeze airtight. Reheat thawed puffs, uncovered, in a 375° oven until crisp and hot, about 5 minutes.
These puffs look and smell so good baking in the oven. They are very light and fluffy but I definitely recommend to use the most flavorful cheese possible or use extra cheese because the more the better :)
After following the recipe exactly (and, yes, getting the physical workout stirring in the eggs), I decided that there was not enough cheese flavor. I used a two-year aged white cheddar, so it wasn't for a lack on that. I grated enough cheese into the mixture until I was satisfied -- turned out to be about 1/2 pound. Right out of the oven, these are outrageously good. I stuffed the leftovers the next day with a crab salad -- cut them in half, filled them with a recipe I found at http://www.docstoc.com/docs/46011109/Crab-Salad-Puffs-Recipe and put the lid back on. The cutest -- and tastiest -- crab sandwich you can imagine. Everyone raved!
These taste great and look impressive even though they are very easy to make. I usually halve the recipe (makes about 24 puffs). One warning: make sure to serve these hot right out of the oven. They are not good cold.
These are just coming out of the oven and look & taste fantastic. I doubled the recipe (yeah, it's a lot of eggs but worth it) and easily got 130+ puffs. I used a ZipLock bag with a corner snipped off instead of a pastry bag to pipe the dough and it worked beautifully. They don't spread out a lot during baking so I piped them pretty close together on the cookie sheets- good because they take a relatively long time to bake. I plan on freezing them and warming before my holiday party this weekend. Great recipe for a crowd!
AWESOME! I have now made these for a few years now and recently added a bit of a twist to them... Add BACON!!!! Makes them even better. Add the cooked bacon the same time you add the cheese, make sure its cooked crispy and you have patted the oil off the bacon. Use good bacon thick cut bacon with lots of flavor.