Last night, we headed over to our friends place to play mahjong. It’s been years since I’ve seen a mahjong tile and I wasn’t sure how I would do. I considered making some snacks to take along with us but the day turned out to be busy, and I never had a chance to make anything.
I wanted to experiment with choux pastry and make either cream puffs or gougeres. After reading Dorie Greenspan’s recipe, it became clear that I could make part of a batch and freeze the rest for future baking. Although I’m a day late with the batch I made tonight, I have some stashed in the freezer for our next mahjong game.
Surprisingly, the pillowy puffs of dough are quick and easy to make. It begins with a mix of milk, water, and butter which is brought up to a boil. Flour is added and cooked for 2-3 minutes. The dough is placed into a mixer and eggs whipped in. Once the dough becomes thick and silky, grated cheese is stirred in. I also added 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives for an extra bit of flavor.
I placed the dough into a ziploc bag and snipped one corner — a quick and simple pastry bag. Pipe dough into 1 tablespoon balls at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 25-30 minutes and you’re done!
I used an equal mix of gruyere and smoked caciocavallo. The smoked cheese is quickly becoming my favorite — I’ve used it on pasta, as a snack, and now in these gougeres. The smokey flavor is light in the puffs and just the right amount.
The gougeres turn out crisp on the outside and filled with air on the inside. I served them alongside some fresh berries to offset their slight richness. I can imagine these would be good filled with a creamy savory filling, like salmon mousse or a bit of pate.
Fortunately, even without these snacks, I did ‘ok’ playing mahjong. I learned enough of the rules and strategy so I could manage the game for a couple hours. Shockingly, I even won a hand or two – thank goodness though that it was a casual, training session. Next time, we’ll be playing for money … so, I made need to make a few more treats to distract and disarm our friends.
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