The first time I ever made a pâte àchoux I was too young and inexperienced to be intimidated by the supposedly touchy process. Cooking my way through the Chicago Cutlery cookbook Cooking with Style I came across a recipe for cream puffs and dove into the puffs like I do most things: no thought, no prep, just go. I've never really been a person who slows down to read directions which is probably why I will never be good at assembling IKEA furniture, but as luck had it the cream puffs turned out and pâte àchoux and I have been friends ever since.
A blog posting at GoBoldWithButter.com for Pumpkin Gruyere Gougères looked like an inventive way to make use of my current overstock of squash. I adjusted the original recipe and the results were lovely.
A note on technique: typically I beat pâte àchoux by hand using a wooden spoon. This time around I used the stand up mixer and wasn't as happy with the rise as I usually am. I'll stick with the wooden spoon from here on out.
Squash Asiago Gougères
Makes 2 to 3 dozen
1 cup milk
1 stick butter
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 heaping cup pureed squash
Two sprigs thyme
1 cup Asiago, grated
Fresh ground nutmeg and black pepper to taste
In medium saucepan melt butter in milk and bring to simmer. Add flour and salt all at once and stir briskly over heat until a ball of dough forms; remove from heat and allow to cool about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat into dough until fully incorporated. Mix in squash, thyme, Asiago, nutmeg, and pepper.
Pipe 3/4-inch rounds, 1 and 1/2-inch apart, on ungreased baking sheet (or use a small ice cream scoop for a rustic look). Whisk together 1 egg with 2 tablespoons water and brush over each pastry. Garnish with a bit of grated Asiago and thyme. Bake in 400 degree oven 15 to 20 minutes.