Cacio E Pepe Cheese Puffs

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 40 min
  • Active: 25 min
  • Yield: 35 to 40 puffs
When friends come over for dinner and I have a lot to cook, I serve the simplest appetizers: shards of aged Parmesan, slices of good salami and a bowl of salty Marcona almonds. But when I invite people to come for just a drink, I go all out and make something special like these cheese puffs, inspired by ones I had at Missy Robbins’s restaurant Lilia in Brooklyn. Everyone always loves them!



  1. Preheat the oven to 425˚ F. Arrange two racks evenly spaced in the oven.
  2. In a medium (4 1/2-inch-diameter by 6-inch-high) saucepan, heat the milk, butter, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper over medium heat, just until the milk is scalded (see Cook’s Note). Add the flour all at once and beat it vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together. Lower the heat and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Dump the mixture into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Immediately add the eggs, 1/2 cup of Pecorino and the Parmesan and pulse until the eggs and cheeses are completely incorporated.
  3. Working in batches, spoon the mixture into a large pastry bag fitted with a plain 5/8-inch round pastry tip. Pipe the dough in mounds 1 1/4 inches wide and 3/4 inch high (1 inch apart) on two sheet pans lined with parchment paper. (They should look like huge Hershey’s Kisses.) With a wet finger, lightly press down the swirl on top of each puff. (You can also use two spoons to scoop the mixture and shape the puffs.) Brush the top of each puff lightly with the egg wash and sprinkle with Pecorino, salt and pepper. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until browned. Rotate the pans halfway through so they brown evenly. Serve hot.

Cook’s Note

Normally I grind hard cheeses such as Pecorino and Parmesan in a food processor rather than grate them for consistency in measuring. To scald milk, heat it to just below the boiling point, when bubbles start to form around the perimeter. Don’t allow it to boil. To make these ahead, bake the puffs and allow them to cool, then freeze in a sealed bag. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and reheat at 375˚ F for 10 minutes.