Cheese puffs

Add salad to these light-as-a-feather treats for a simple lunch or a delicious starter
By Mark Sargeant
Cheese puffs
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Effort: medium

Ingredients

  • 40 g butter, salted or unsalted, cut into cubes
  • large pinch cayenne pepper, powder
  • 70 g plain flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 12 chives, finely chopped (or 1-2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme)
  • 90 g grated cheese, preferably Sussex Mansion cheese, plus a little extra to serve (see Cook's tip below)
  • herbed salad, to serve

Tips and Suggestions

Made by artisan cheese makers in East Sussex, Sussex Mansion is a firm cheese with a sweet, nutty aroma and tangy flavour. You can experiment with different cheeses, but the flavour will not be quite the same.

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.

2. Put the butter, 1/4 tsp salt, cayenne, a few turns of freshly ground black pepper and 125ml water in a saucepan and heat until the butter is melted.

3. Add the flour all at once and stir vigorously over the heat until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the saucepan into a smooth ball. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to rest for 2 minutes.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring quickly to make sure the eggs don't 'cook.' The batter will appear lumpy at first, but after a minute or so, it will smooth out. (If you prefer, you can transfer the mixture to a bowl before adding the eggs in order to cool the dough, or you can beat in the eggs in a food processor or electric mixer, if you wish.)

5. Add the chives and about three-quarters of the grated cheese and stir until well-mixed.

6. Scrape the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a wide plain tip and pipe the dough onto the prepared baking sheet in evenly-spaced mounds, making each about the size of a small cherry tomato. Top each puff with a little of the remaining cheese, then transfer the baking sheet to the oven.

7. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 190C/170C fan/gas 5, and bake for a further 20-25 minutes, until the puffs are completely golden brown.

8. To serve, divide the puffs among serving plates, sprinkle over a little extra grated cheese and accompany with a herbed salad.

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