makes about 24 hors d'oeuvres
5 oz water
2 1/2 oz unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel
2 1/2 oz all purpose flour
1/2 cup Comté cheese, coarsely grated
Comté cheese, finely grated for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Make an egg glaze: Whisk one of the eggs in a bowl and set aside. Put the remaining eggs into a separate bowl or measuring cup with a spout. Do not mix and set aside.
To make the choux paste, combine the water, butter and sea salt in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts and the mixture comes to a full boil. Immediately add the flour all at once, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. Keep stirring until the mixture has formed a smooth ball and pulls away from the sides of the pan and a film is present on the bottom of the pan. Continue to beat the mixture over low heat for a minute or so more to remove the excess moisture and dry the dough.
With a wooden spoon, beat the whole eggs into the dough one by one, beating thoroughly after each addition. Beat just enough of the reserved beaten egg into the dough until it is shiny and just falls from the spoon. (Note: you might not need to add any additional egg at this point, depending on the size of the eggs that you use. You are looking for a certain consistency and shine to the dough. The texture should be thick enough to fall from the spoon as mentioned above. If you get the dough too thin, the dough will fall off the spoon in a stream and the gougères will be too flat. When in doubt, it is best to err on the side of slightly dry).
Beat in the coarsely grated Comté cheese. Using a small spoon, drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet taking care to keep them the same size and be careful not to flatten them. Brush the tops with the egg glaze and lightly sprinkle the top with a little of the finely grated Comté cheese.
Place the gougères in the oven immediately and bake until they have puffed, are nicely browned, and feel light for their size, about 25 minutes. Serve warm straight from the oven or let cool completely.
They can be stored in an airtight container for a day or two and warmed in a 350 degrees F oven for 5 minutes.
The cook's note: We also like to occasionally add a teaspoon of freshly ground mustard seeds as well as a teaspoon of Dijon mustard to the dough for a little extra zip! Depending on the season and what we have growing in our herb garden, we like to add freshly picked garden thyme or chives as well.