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Tiny Cheese Puffs Gougeres

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
Pinch of sea salt
1 cup water
1 cup minus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, sifted
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup freshly grated imported Gruyere cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly butter and flour 2
baking sheets; set aside. In a medium-size heavy-bottomed saucepan,
combine the butter, salt, and water over high heat. Bring to a
boil, whisking occasionally. As soon as the mixture boils, remove
the pan from the heat. Add the flour all at once, and beat viorously
with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes away from the sides of
the pan. Return the pan to low heat and continue beating for 1
minute, to dry out the dough. Quickly transfer the dough to the
bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with a flat paddle.
Gradually add the eggs and 1/2 cup of the cheese, mixing at moderately
high speed to incorporate the maximum amount of air. The dough
should have the consistency of a very thick mayonnaise.

Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a plain 1/2-inch
tip.(Depending on the size of your pastry bag, this may have to be
done in two batches.) Pipe into round 2-inch mounds, spacing them
about 2 inches apart. (If you do not have a pastry bag, carefully
spoon the dough onto the baking sheets with a tablespoon.) Sprinkle
the tops with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Place in the center
of the oven and bake until the puffs are an even golden brown, 20
to 25 minutes. Avoid opening the oven door during this time, for
humidity will escape and the pastry will dry out. To test for
doneness, remove one well-browned cheese puff from the oven. Split
it apart: It should be moist and steamy in the center. Transfer
the puffs to a rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes 30 to 36 cheese puffs.


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