These are adapted from a recipe in Wine Spectator, September 30, 2009. The recipe is originally from Terrance Brennan of Artisanal Restaurant in New York (www.terrancebrennan.com).
Note that the dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or individual puffs can be frozen on a baking sheet and then stored in a plastic bag.
They can also be baked in advance and then reheated at 400 F for 2 1/2 minutes. Never cover them completely or they'll get soggy.
After baking, they can also be halved crosswise and stuffed with soft cheeses or noncheese fillings (like prosciutto or steak tartare).
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine butter, 1/4 cup milk, water, 1/4 tsp sea salt, and cayenne in a 2 quart saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
2. Sift flour and baking powder, then gradually add flour mixture to the liquid. Remove from the heat. Stir well with a wooden spoon then return to the stove. Then cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until th dough pulls away from the side of the pot, which should take a few minutes.
3. Remove from the heat and transfer dough to the bowl of Mix Master. Add 3/4 cup Gruyere and paddle on low until just warm, about 2 minutes.
4. Increase mixer speed to medium high and add eggs one at a time. Continue to mix until the dough is smooth and shiny, about 10 minutes. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
5. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Transfer the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a #6 tip (opening the size of a nickel). Pipe the dough into 1 inch rounds, each 1/2 inch high. Allow 1/2 inch space between gougeres. Each sheet should fit 25-28 gougeres. Brush the gougeres with the remaining 2 tbsp milk. Sprinkle with the remaining 3 tbsp Gruyere and 1 tsp sea salt.
6. Place in the oven and bake 5 mintues. Turn the trays 180 degrees and continue to bake until golden brown, approximately 7 to 10 minutes more.
Recipe makes 50-55 gougeres.