Easy Cheesy Puffs (Gluten-Free)

These easy cheesy puffs are one of my favorites that I make for my family and friends, and they always beg for me.  The technique to make these are different, but don't let that discourage you from making these.  This "paste" of a dough is cooked on the stove top, cooled, and the eggs are slowly mixed in before baking off.  Yes, it requires some elbow grease incorporating the eggs, but the reward is high.  These puffs have a crisp exterior, a spongy almost custard like interior with a great aroma of cheese and aromatics.  Sweet rice flour is the perfect flour for these puffs, even better than regular all-purpose (wheat) flour.  Sweet rice flour is also know as "glutinous" rice flour even though it is gluten-free, and can be found in the Asian section, sometimes called mochi flour.  Nothing else is needed - no xanthan or guar gums, not even baking powder.  I added other aromatics to these such as garlic powder, nutmeg, and fresh chives.  This is your opportunity to personalize these to your tastes.  These are other great add-ins: parsley, rosemary, oregano, truffle salt, cayenne (with a very light hand), dried shallots or onions....  Oh yeah, another thing about this recipe - I have the measures in grams.  You know how I feel about the ridiculous measurement error in volumetric measurements, ie, cups.... up to 200% error.  If you don't own a scale, pick up a cheapy for under $20 just about at any major store.  The only features you need are a tare/zero button, weighs in grams with a +/- 1 gram increments, and weighs in ounces (not fluid).  Don't waste your money for a scale that claims is does it all, it doesn't.

Easy Cheesy Puffs (Gluten-Free)
  • Butter, 85 grams
  • Milk, water, or chicken broth, 165 grams
  • Salt, 2 grams (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Optional: your choice of aromatics: pinches of granulated garlic, nutmeg, cayenne, mustard powder, white pepper, dried toasted onions or shallots, etc.
  • Sweet rice flour, 130 grams
  • Eggs, about 200 grams, 4 large (standardized at 50 grams/1 large egg), lightly scrambled
  • Cheese, 150 grams shredded (Any cheese will work! I used Gruyere. Others that would work: cheddar, manchango, etc.... anything that shreds.)
  • Optional: Your choice of finely chopped herbs: chives, parsley, rosemary, oregano...
  1. Preheat oven to 425F, use convection if you have it.
  2. Combine the liquid, butter, aromatics and salt in a heavy saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a full, rolling boil.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and add the sweet rice flour all at once.  Stir quickly using a strong utensil.
  4. Return the pan to moderate heat and stir vigorously until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides, about 5 minutes.  Remove form heat.  Allow to cool slightly.
  5. With vigorous and thorough stirring, beat in the eggs a little at a time.  Add no more than one-quarter of the eggs at once, and wait until they are completely worked in before adding more.  When all the eggs are incorporated, add in the cheese and fresh herbs.  Now it's ready to use.
  6. Using a small scooper (1/2-3/4 oz), portion out the paste onto parchment lined baking sheets.  Sprinkle lightly with salt, and get in the oven ASAP, all at once.  You don't want to open the oven once these guys are in until they're risen and browned.  Bake for about 15-20 minutes until beautifully browned.  Remove and allow to cool on wire racks.
These store perfectly in the freezer.  Just pop in the oven or toaster oven to warm up before serving.  Makes about  30 cheesy puffs.

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Sensational Sides Feast. Check out The FN Dish.  This week we're focusing on cheesy side.  On twitter, we're tagging #SensationalSides.  Here are other amazing cheesy recipes to try out from our other friends: