Sweet Potato Gougeres with Cheddar & Jalapeño

Gougeres, light and airy cheese puffs, are one of my favorite appetizers. There is a restaurant here in the city that serves a basket of them instead of bread, and each time we go, my family manages to devour the basket within seconds of sitting down. We often order a second and a third, and on the way out, we stop by the bakery to buy one of their take-home packages.

Classic gougeres are simply little puffs of choux pastry--the same light, egg-y dough you would use to make eclairs or crullers or profiteroles--that have been made savory by swapping out the sugar for grated cheese and other seasonings like cracked black pepper or herbs. They come together in minutes and can even be made in advance and frozen for future snacking or entertaining.

The version I'm sharing with you today is a little bit different; along with the cheese (cheddar), I've folded in pureed sweet potatoes and a sprinkle of chopped pickled jalapeños. The result is a bit heavier than a traditional gougeres (these don't rise as high and tend to deflate a bit seconds out of the oven) but with that same delicate, almost melt-in-your-mouth, center and crisp outside. The combination of the sweet potato, salty cheddar, and spicy jalapeños is absolute magic.

I recommend serving these sweet potato gougeres with sparkling wine as an appetizer, or split and fill with slices of salty baked ham as an easy brunch dish.

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Sweet Potato Gougeres with Cheddar & Jalapeño
Makes about 2 dozen

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1 cup water
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (preferably yellow)
1 cup pureed sweet potatoes (from about 2 peeled sweet potatoes)
1/3 cup pickled jalapeños, coursely chopped
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine the water, butter and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a rapid boil over high heat. Add the flour, lower the heat, and stir it very rapidly until it comes together into a large, but smooth, lump.

Remove from heat and add to the base of your stand mixer or a large bowl. With the mixer or hand mixer on medium start adding the eggs one at a time, waiting until each is fully incorporated before adding the next. The dough should be shiny and smooth. Once all the eggs are in, beat in the cheese, sweet potato puree, and jalapeños. Stir in the black pepper.

Using about 2 tablespoons of dough for each gouger, drop the dough notion the lined baking sheets, each about 2 inches apart and use slightly damp fingers to round the tops.

Place in the oven for 2 minutes, and then lower the heat to 375. Bake for about 10 minutes, then rotate the pans and bake for an additional 12 to 15 minutes, or until puffs are golden, firm, and puffed slightly.

Serve immediately.

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