I’ve written quite a lot about how the French enjoy the apéritif hour—without going overboard on the drinks or the nibbles. That is, I’ve never seen anything like this brought out before dinner:
After all, why finish your guests off before they’ve even sat down to the table? Rather, serve just a nibble or two with that pre-dinner drink and you’ll do what the apèritif was always meant to do: Rouse (rather than douse) the appetite.
The classic appetizer is gougères—those wonderful little cheese puffs. And guess what? They freeze beautifully. Make a batch, and you’ll be able to bring them out, here and there, in the coming weeks.
There are two ways to freeze gougère, and both work equally well. In fact, I just taste-tested the two different ways this morning and if someone made me choose one way over the other, I’d have a tough time telling which one was truly “best.” Okay, maybe I’d give the unbaked version a slight edge….but the baked version has the advantage of being ready to serve that much more quickly. Here goes:
To Freeze Unbaked Gougères:
1. Pipe the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheet (choose a baking sheet that will fit into your freezer). (Alternatively, you can drop the dough by rounded teaspoons if you don’t have a piping bag.)
2. Place the unbaked gougères on the baking sheet directly in the freezer. Freeze for 1 hour or until firmly frozen.
3. Place the firmly frozen Gougères in a freezer bag. Don’t worry, they won’t stick together in the freezer! Label the bag and freeze up to 1 month.
4. When ready to enjoy, take them out of the freezer and place them directly on a parchment-lined baking sheet. (Don’t let them sit in the bag at room temperature, or they will begin to thaw and stick together!) Bake as directed in your recipe, adding just a minute or two to the baking time.
To freeze baked gougères:
1. Prepare and bake the gougères as directed in the recipe. Place in freezer bags; seal, label and freeze for up to 1 month.
2. When ready to enjoy, place frozen gougères on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and serve warm or at room temperature.
I love freezing Gougères, because it lets you bring out just a few when you’re ready to enjoy a cocktail with whomever you spend your evenings with. Or if you’re serving a houseful, well, bring out the sparkling wine and a batch of these and everyone will be so very happy.
Other posts and articles you might enjoy:
1. Holiday Cocktails from France, my article on BonjourParis.com
2. The Art of the Apéritif: Or Why Potato Chips Taste Better in France
3. Sparkling French Cocktails for New Year’s Eve