Pommes Dauphine: The Potato Puffs That Should Be More Popular In The US

If there is one thing that can bring the United States together in these divisive times, it must surely be our love of fried potatoes. Over 85% of Americans reported eating potato chips in 2020 (via Statista), and you have to wonder how many of the "no" responses came from people who just didn't want to admit their guilty pleasure. We're talking about the nation that got a taste of fries and loved them so much that it pioneered the curly, waffle, wedge, and other French fry styles just to satisfy the people's savory needs. Considering Americans' fried potato obsession, it's a shock that pommes dauphine don't appear on more menus.

As you've probably guessed by their name, these crispy potato morsels come from France. The exact nature of their origin is uncertain, but it was likely named for the 'dauphine,' a feminine form of the 'dauphin' title once given to the heirs of the French throne (via Cooks Without Borders). Alternatively, it may have simply been named for the Dauphine Region of France, which is near the Italian border and once served as the home of the royal dauphin. Dairy and potatoes factor heavily into the region's cuisine, no doubt influencing this dish.

Pommes dauphine are part mashed potato, part tater tot, and part... eclair?

Pommes dauphine present themselves as golden spheres with a crispy outside and soft interior. The International Dictionary of Food and Cooking defines pommes dauphine as a blend of two unique mixtures. One is potato croquette mix, which consists of mashed potatoes, butter, milk, and sometimes eggs, and the other is choux pastry. Known as "pâte à choux" in France, choux pastry serves as the base of éclairs, profiteroles, and gougières (via Masterclass).

Choux pastry does not have the degree of name recognition that puff pastry does, but it is actually far easier to make. It is an excellent dough for novice bakers to have a go at. New York pastry god and Cronut inventor Dominique Ansel's choux pastry recipe needs a mere 10 minutes of prep, at which point you can bake it, or better still, grab your potato masher and get to work on some pommes dauphine.

What do pommes dauphine taste like?

Pommes dauphine retain the comforting taste of buttery mashed potatoes because choux pastry has very little flavor in its own right. Masterclass describes it as a neutral taste, which is why this particular kind of pastry shows up in both sweet and savory dishes. Like virtually all other potato-based dishes, pommes dauphin is traditionally served as a side (although nobody could blame you if you wanted to eat a whole plate of them). Serious Eats recommends pairing them with roast chicken or beef. You can also try dipping them in gravy. Generally, if a dish goes with mashed potatoes, it will also go with pommes dauphine.

Texture is even more important than taste when it comes to pommes dauphine, which should be crispy on the outside with an airy interior. The choux pastry has a high water content, which turns into steam in the oven and creates air pockets within the dough (via Masterclass). By cooking and whipping your mashed potatoes to a perfectly even texture and combining it with the choux, air pockets form within the potato mixture, giving it a light, cloudy texture. If you love the taste of French fries but find them too heavy, pommes dauphine might be the soulmate you never knew you had.