Italian Cheese Puffs

PARTNER POST: Get ready to feed a holiday crowd with appetizer recipes paired perfectly with food-friendly Cavit wines.
Light, airy and full of cheese, these puffs make a wonderful appetizer. Serve alongside red wine for an elegant party bite!

Italian Cheese Puffs

Being the host or hostess for the holidays can be a daunting undertaking for a variety of reasons. You’re tasked with making sure your home is guest-ready, your ambiance is festive, your food picks are flawless and your sanity isn’t sacrificed! Add those stressors to a list of already-existing obligations {work, life, etc.} and you may be tempted to scrap plans and opt for a Christmas movie marathon in sweatpants instead.

While I’m all for cozy lounging, I’d hate for your party to be a bust just because you’re not sure where to begin! So, go ahead and send out those party invites {or Evites} because I’ve got you covered with my tips for stress-free holiday entertaining.

1. Wine. Let’s just get right to the good stuff! You don’t have to spend a fortune on wine for it to be good. Cavit Wines, Northern Italian wines from Trentino come at a reasonable price point and are a perfect place to start planning your menu and stocking your bar. Cavit’s bold Select Red Blend or crisp Pinot Grigio will cover all the bases whether your guests prefer red or white. Always buy more beverages than you think you need, and don’t forget to have non-alcoholic options for guests who don’t drink and for designated drivers!

2. Food. Unless you’re determined to have an all-out seated dinner, appetizer parties work great for the holidays. Appetizer parties allow you to have an “open-house” style gathering where guests can come and go, and take the pressure off of having to time and execute many dishes at once. {Which is nearly impossible in a tiny kitchen.} Set out a variety of hot and cold bites and “easy” foods like dips, spreads, and cheese boards that look beautiful and provide plenty to nibble on. Check out Cavit’s Food Pairing Chart if you need guidance on foods that go well with your wine selections!


Italian Cheese Puffs

3. Decor. Your holiday decor is probably enough embellishment for your home, so don’t go overboard with party purchases! Buy some festive cocktail napkins, put out the nice appetizer plates and plate food beautifully so that it can double as a centerpiece or buffet decor. I love a tiered look using cake stands, platters and even holiday cookbooks — all things I already own that lend a holiday look to the spread. The Italian Cheese Puffs I’m sharing the recipe for below can be arranged to look like a show-stopping Christmas tree with just a few items and {a little patience}!

These Italian Cheese Puffs come together so quickly that you’ll have plenty of time to arrange them on a stunning Christmas tree display!

Italian Cheese Puffs

While “gougeres” are actually French, I’ve added garlic, oregano and Italian cheeses to these airy little bites to give them Italian flair, making them a perfect pairing with Cavit’s Select Red Blend. You can easily use your favorite cheeses and herbs to create a few different flavors, and the recipe is easy to double for an extra large batch.

For another easy holiday appetizer, try these lamb bites. Recipe here.

Italian Cheese Puffs
 
Light, airy and full of cheese, these puffs make a wonderful appetizer. Serve alongside red wine for an elegant party bite!
Author:
Recipe Type: Appetizer
Serves: 50 puffs
Ingredients
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 stick {8 tablespoons} butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ - ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup shredded or grated Italian cheese blend
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Prepare a piping bag by fitting with a large open star tip attachment {if desired}.
  2. Bring water, butter and salt to a boil in a medium pot over medium-high heat.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together flour, garlic powder, oregano and black pepper. Set aside.
  4. When the butter has melted, remove the pot from the heat and add the dry ingredients all at once. Mix vigorously until the mixture comes together to form a dough. Reduce the heat to medium and return the pot to the heat, stirring the dough and cooking it for 1-2 minutes to help remove some of the moisture.
  5. Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat the dough for about 30 seconds to cool it slightly, then add one egg at a time until each is incorporated and the mixture is smooth.
  6. Add cheese and mix until fully blended.
  7. Scrape the dough into the prepared piping bag. Pipe cheese puffs onto prepared baking pans. You'll want to make a little swirl as if you're frosting a mini cupcake, about 1 tablespoon per puff, leaving about 2 inches between each one. If peaks remain after piping, wet the tip of your finger and flatten them slightly.
  8. Bake for about 18-20 minutes until the puffs turn golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from the baking pan and cool on a rack or serve warm if desired.
  9. For Christmas Tree: If you'd like to arrange the cheese puffs like a Christmas tree, you'll need to buy a styrofoam cone shape from the craft store {usually in the floral section}. Starting at the bottom of the cone, insert a toothpick half way into the cone, then push a cheese puff onto the toothpick to adhere. Do this all the way around the cone, then continue the next layer above the first, placing toothpicks and cheese puffs all the way up and around the cone. Fill in any gaps with cherry tomatoes and basil leaves if desired.
Notes
If you don't have a piping bag and tips, you can simply scoop the dough onto the prepared baking pan using a small cookie scoop or two spoons. They will have a rounded, less decorative appearance, but will still be just as tasty!

 

Dianna Muscari

Dianna Muscari

Dianna Muscari blogs about her cooking and antics on The Kitchen Prep. A self-taught cook and baker, Dianna shares with her readers the messes and successes she encounters in the kitchen. Along with her recipes - which range from healthy to hearty to downright decadent - Dianna shares anecdotes about life, marriage, travel, and living in Florida. Her conversational writing style draws you into her kitchen for a meal and a laugh as she navigates through life one recipe at a time.

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