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Christmas Eve is at the in-laws for the annual “Christ-mah-kah” celebration. Christmas day is at my Mom’s. New Year’s Eve is celebrated each year at my dear friend Rebecca’s house. But Thanksgiving? That day is all mine. The menu each year is fairly traditional, but I always round it out with a few new additions, particularly after I have drooled over the new recipes in the Thanksgiving issues of all the gourmet magazines that I promptly scoop up once they hit the shelves. With most of the new recipes, I like to have a practice round.

I have been dying to make some variation on gougeres, those delectable little savory cheese pastry bites, ever since we learned to make them in that cooking class I took a couple months back. The chef warned that we really needed a stand-mixer to make them, and since mine won’t be in until December, they seemed a Christmas, rather than Thanksgiving treat. But then Gourmet magazine had to go and publish this totally amazing sounding gougeres recipe in their Thanksgiving issue, and I decided to throw caution to the wind, and employ the handheld mixer for the task.

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Hickory-Bacon and Roasted-Corn Gougeres
From Gourmet November 2007
makes around 40 gougeres (the mag had a misprint, and said 140)

4 hickory-smoked bacon slices
3/4 cup corn kernels (from 2 medium ears)
1 cup water
1 stick unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup all purpose flour
4 to 5 large eggs – cracked in separate bowls
5 oz coursely grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons grated parmigiano-reggiano
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives (I subbed green onions)

Step 1: Preheat oven to 375F. Using a cast-iron skillet, cook bacon until crisp, then drain on paper towels, and finely chop. Step 2: Pour off fat from skillet, and wipe clean, leaving a small amount of residual fat. Add corn and pan roast over medium heat, until kernels are browned, 10 to 15 minutes.

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Step 3: Bring water to a boil with butter and salt in a heavy medium saucepan, stirring until butter has melted. Add the flour all at once, and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon, until mixture pulls away from side of pan. Gourmet says this will take 2 minutes…but it took me all of 30 seconds.

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Step 4: Remove mixture from heat and cool slightly. You are now ready to add the eggs. Using your hand-held mixer, add one egg to the mixture, and beat on a low setting. Don’t worry if the batter appears to separate.

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Beat the mixture 20-30 seconds per egg, until you have done 4 eggs. When the batter is done, it will be smooth and glossy, and stiff enough to hold peaks. If the batter is too stiff, beat the remaining egg in a bowl, and add to the mixture one teaspoon at a time, until it has reached desired consistency. Once you have, give yourself a pat on the back, because you have just succesfully made a pate a choux pastry dough, which is also used for eclairs.

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Step 5: Stir in the bacon, corn, cheeses, chives and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

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Step 6: Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper, or a silicon baking mat. You can now use a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch plain tip, or simply make mounded teaspoons of dough. Place the gougeres 1/4 inch apart, onto each sheet.

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Bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until puffed, golden, and crisp, about 25-30 minutes total. Transfer to a rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. OK to freeze once cooled, just reheat in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, making them ideal for entertaining.

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Take it from me, these little babies are so worth the effort. Particularly considering the fact that they freeze so well…I plan on making another batch a week before Thanksgiving to have as an hors doeuvres day of. We enjoyed a few yesterday afternoon, and I have to say, I think I prefer them at room temperature…the sweetness of the corn really comes through.

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