Maury Rubin, owner of New York City's renowned City Bakery, substitutes a cookie press for the customary pastry bag when making these savory hors d'oeuvres. The press makes quicker work of the preparation, too. Enjoy them hot or at room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or use a nonstick baking sheet. Insert a star disk in a cookie press.
Put water, milk and butter into a medium saucepan and cook over low heat until the butter melts.
Meanwhile, sift the flour, cayenne pepper, black pepper and salt together into a medium bowl. Set aside.
Crack the eggs into a small bowl. With a fork, beat slightly. Set aside.
When the butter mixture is liquid but not boiling hot, add half of the flour. Increase the heat to medium. With a large wooden spoon, mix vigorously until the mixture forms a dough. Add the remaining flour and continue mixing vigorously until the dough is smooth and glistens slightly. Remove the pan from the heat and use the spoon to make a well in the center.
Add half the beaten eggs to the batter and mix vigorously until incorporated. Repeat with the remaining beaten eggs. Add 1 cup of the cheese and mix until melted and thoroughly blended. Cover the pot with a moist towel.
Working in batches, and keeping the remaining batter covered with the towel, place the batter in cookie press. Squeeze dough onto the prepared baking sheet, keeping two inches between each portion. Sprinkle some of the remaining cheese over the tops of the gougeres. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown and slightly hard on the outside.
Makes approximately 24 gougeres.
Maury Rubin, City Bakery, New York City