A traditional French gougere is a pate a choux puff baked with cheese, historically served during wine tastings. We put an American pimento cheese-filled spin on these buttery puffs by stuffing them with a mix of Cheddar, pimentos, cream cheese and mayonnaise for an appetizer sure to please.
a silicone mat; a piping bag fitted with a large round tip; a piping bag fitted with a tip for filling
For the pate a choux: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
Combine the milk, butter, salt, sugar and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Heat, stirring occasionally to ensure that the butter melts completely, until the liquid begins to simmer. Add the flour and cook, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon, until the mixture comes together to form an even dough. Continue to cook, stirring, until the dough begins to pull away from the sides as you stir and leaves a film or thin residue on the bottom and sides of the pan, 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Slowly mix the dough until it cools to room temperature, about 3 minutes. When the dough has cooled, add the egg white and whole eggs one at a time, mixing well on medium speed. Scrape down the sides after each egg. After the last egg is added, scrape down the bowl and beat on high speed until the dough is smooth, thick and glossy, about 3 minutes.
Scoop the dough into a piping bag fitted with a large round tip and pipe 1 1/2-inch circles onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving a 1-inch gap between to allow the puffs to expand. If any of the piped choux have pointy tops, wet your fingertip with water and pat them down a little, smoothing out the tops.
For the egg wash: Whisk together the egg and salt in a small bowl and brush over the choux.
Bake until the puffs are round, puffed and a light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the puffs remain inside until they are a deep golden brown, an additional 5 minutes. Remove them from the oven and allow to cool completely while you make the pimento cheese stuffing.
For the pimento cheese stuffing: Bring the evaporated milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low, mix in the Cheddar and continue to whisk as the cheese melts. Add the mayonnaise, hot sauce, cornstarch and salt and whisk to combine. Mix in the pimento pepper, making sure that it is minced enough for the pieces to easily fit through the head of your piping tip. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool while you prepare the cream cheese.
Add the cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat until completely smooth and no lumps are visible. When the Cheddar-pimento mixture is cool to the touch, slowly beat it into the cream cheese, making sure each addition is fully incorporated before adding more to the bowl.
Transfer the pimento cheese mixture to a piping bag fitted with a tip for filling. Pierce a small hole in the bottom of each choux puff with the end of the tip and fill each with the cheese mixture until just before it starts to bulge.
The structure of the dough can be tested by pinching the dough between your index finger and thumb; a strand of dough should pull and hold between your fingers when you pull them away from each other.