When we asked Umami Mart's Yoko Kumano what she likes to eat when drinking sake, she told us she was making her way through a block of gouda, which she was nibbling on while sipping Hakkaisan Honjozo and watching Sons of Anarchy. Kayoko Akabori said her favorites sakes are Junmai, which she drinks while snacking on super savory snacks, like dried squid. 

We heard gouda and immediately wanted wanted to make gougeres with smoked gouda, taking the umami quotient up a notch. Tasty snacks that pair well with champagne, we thought they'd go especially well with a sake with more savory notes. We were right--but when our gougeres came out of the oven, they were missing something. So we kept heading down that savory highway and piped in a cool and creamy ranch-style filling. The result was strangely nostalgic, like the kind of hors d'oeuvres you had at your grandmother's dressy Christmas party back in the 80s. We're not speaking from experience or anything. 

Smoked Gouda Gougeres with Creamy Ranch Filling

Gougeres

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 pound (1 stick) butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
1 cup flour
4 eggs
1 cup grated smoked gouda

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the paprika, mustard, and salt.  

In a medium pot, heat the milk, water, and butter until the butter has melted and the mixture is simmering. Add all the flour mixture at once. Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough is cohesive and smooth and starts to pull away from the sides of the pot, leaving behind only a film. Remove from the heat.

Turn the dough out into a bowl and stir for a few minutes until it has cooled slightly. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition. The dough will break apart and come back together. Don’t worry if it looks broken temporarily.

When all the eggs have been added, the dough should be a smooth, thick paste that droops instead of standing up stiffly. Stir in the grated cheese. 

Put the mixture into a piping bag and pipe it onto a lined pan, making slightly-less-than-tablespoon-sized mounds. Smooth the tops with a wet finger if they are pointed. This recipe makes a party’s-worth of gougeres, so you may have to make a few batches. You can pipe them pretty close together, though, so you can get plenty on a baking sheet.

Bake the gougeres for 10 minutes at 425 F, then lower the heat to 350 F and bake for 25 more minutes. The gougeres should be puffed, golden and crispy. Allow to cool slowly in the hot oven, propping the door open. Allow the gougeres to cool completely before filling.

Creamy Ranch Filling

1/2 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried dill
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Blend all ingredients in a food processor. Make sure the texture is right: It should be just thin enough to pipe from a piping bag, but not runny. If your mixture is too thin, add a little more cream cheese to thicken. Put the ranch mixture into a piping bag and chill the bag until you are ready to use it.

When you are ready to fill your gougeres, poke a small hole in the bottom of each gougere. Pipe in about a teaspoon of the ranch. Be careful not to overfill. The goal is a little creaminess, not a giant mouthful of cream cheese. Serve with champagne or a Hakkaisan Honjozo sake.