Pâte à choux: Dough that puffs in the oven; French
Profiteroles: cream puffs; made with pâte à choux; French
Gougères: Bite-sized cheesy puffs; made with pâte à choux; French
Pâte à choux is the dough used to make puffy, poppable yums. It’s all science with these things. They’re made of butter, water, flour, a little sugar and eggs just like any old dough, but they rise up without any yeast or anything. You melt the butter and water then mix the flour in when it’s still hot. Then you cool it down and mix in your eggs. When you bake them in the oven they’ll puff up so round and fluffy!
TONS of different applications in the art of French pastry, but in the US we usually just see profiteroles and gougères.
Profiteroles are what many call cream puffs. Fill the empty space in a ball of pâte à choux with ice cream, whipped cream or pastry cream.
Gougères are a savory treat. The cheese is mixed with the dough and baked right in, unlike “cheesy bread,” as it were. In the US, you’ll usually find it as an appetizer if you find it at all and happen to hang with a gougère-type crew.
Profiterole recipe to try: Profiteroles with Ricotta Mascarpone Filling from Giada DeLaurentiis I’ve made these twice, the pastry is reliable (make sure you don’t undercook, will be less puffy), and I LOVE the filling
Gougère recipe to try: Gruyere Gougeres from Baking Obsession Gruyère is similar to Swiss cheese and is sometimes expensive, I’ve found. Try Swiss if you’re not up to it. These are very tasty!