The Reason You Need To Space Out Gougères When Piping Them

What's your go-to homemade finger food when entertaining? Perhaps it's tomato-topped bruschetta flavored with garlic and olive oil? Or maybe you prefer a classic charcuterie board loaded with meats and cheeses? How about a no-fail baked feta dip, ready to be smeared all over toasted pita wedges? There are so many ways to go when pulling together a party appetizer, but one festive snack that has stood the test of time is a round cheese puff called a gougère.

Made from pâte à choux dough — that infinitely adaptable French dough made from water, butter, salt, flour, and eggs (via King Arthur Baking) — gougères are made by piping rounds of the dough, topping them with plenty of grated cheese, and baking until the balls puff and the cheese caramelizes. Once cooled, the treats can be eaten as-is alongside a cold glass of wine or split open and stuffed with tasty additions such as herbed cream cheese or smoked salmon. And as fancy as they sound, the puffs are quite simple to make at home — but you'll need to take some care when piping them out.

Gougères will spread out as they bake

Just like many types of cookies will, gougères spread out as they bake, so it's important not to overcrowd your baking sheet as you're piping out the rounds of pâte à choux, Kitchn advises. In the heat of the oven, the puffs could run into each other if placed too closely together, causing them to fail to expand, and/or stick together in a mass. The outlet suggests leaving about one inch of space around all sides of the gougères in order to prevent this issue.

There's one other tip you'll want to be aware of when baking your cheese puffs. Kitchn notes that gougères are one of those baked goods that go into a blazing-hot oven — in order to rise quickly — whose temperature is then reduced so that the puffs bake through without burning. The site advises sliding your tray of gougères into a preheated 450-degree Fahrenheit oven, baking the treats for five minutes, then dropping the oven's temperature to 350 degrees for the remaining cook time (about a half hour). After cooling for a few minutes, the cheesy bites are ready to be devoured — just try to wait until your guests arrive before doing so.