Fantastic Hot Cheese Puffs!
Along with the lemon meringue tarts, I brough along our family's signature hot nibblies to have at the cocktail party last weekend. These are little gooorgeous little things my mum found in a Woman's Weekly Dinner Party cookbook from the mid-80s, and has been making ever since. I cannot stress how good these are, and how anybody who has tasted them before gets very excited if they know they're on the menu. My brother even eats the filling straight from the bowl, cold from the fridge if given a chance. That takes some dedication!
Quite simply they are little choux pastry puffs filled with a cheese & bacon filling, served hot from the oven. They are creamy, cheesy and salty, therefore perfect with drinks! The recipe gives a recipe to make your own choux pastry, but we've never bothered because it is so easy to buy packets of the Italian profiteroles (called bigne) to fill yourself from markets or delis. The ready made profiteroles are also crunchier and better for keeping their structural integrity when stuffed with filling. In my experience, home-made choux pastry tends towards the flabby, soggy side. What better experience after having a few strong drinks to bite into a crispy, crunchy shell filled with creamy cheesy filling? None better, in my eyes.
The filling is so very easy to make, and these are some of the simplest and most effective finger foods you can offer, if you need to provide something hot as an appetiser or with drinks. We actually use that Kraft cheese that comes wrapped in tinfoil in a block - so plastic that it doesn't even need to be sold refrigerated! However, after experimenting with other cheeses, the industrial stuff is actually the most suitable for this recipe; it provides the necessary salt and melting structure best suited to the filling. But feel free to use something less plastic, and more palatable!
I cannot recommend these little cheesy poofs highly enough; I assure you that you'll love them, as everyone down here does.
These were served a few hours into my friends (now infamous) cocktail party on the weekend. He leaves on Saturday to spend about 3 years teaching English in Japan, and had one final big party to farewell everybody. We were asked to dress very formally, bring a bottle of something lurid and full-strength, and would listen to cheesy 50s lounge music....which lasted until an hour into the gig, when the plastic cups were broken out, the bow ties came off, and the 80s pop came on. I haven't had a night that big for years; I spent all Sunday moaning in bed vowing that I would never touch alcohol again, wondering how I got home, trying to ignore the ceiling spinning around my head, and remembering various things I did or said that made me cringe. I remember my friend starting to clear up at 4am (why was I still there?!), and taking out some bottles, only to jump right back inside looking perplexed:
"I can't put these in the bin. There are people kissing in the bin!"
Yep, it's just not a good party unless there a bin kissers, you know.
So, here's my little piece of Maiden Aunt advice to you young whipper snappers: it's never a good idea to get drunk by mixing lots of full-strength liquers! I remember drinking something at one stage that I'm sure tasted like cloves mixed with chocolate mint. That's what you do when you hand your glass to whoever is experimenting the table at the time. YUCK!
Ooof - that was enough for this girl. I'm happy to live quietly and soberly again until my friend returns from Japan and plan his welcome home party! But I'm happy to say that the cheesy poofs were very eagerly received, and I watched with a laugh those who had tasted them before grab a whole handful before passing the plate along!
Read on for the recipe:
The infamous cocktail table. Pretty scary, eh?
Fantabulous Hot Cheese Puffs
I packet of small bigne (profiteroles)
30g (1oz) butter
1 tablespoon plain flour
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup grated cheese (Kraft soap block is perfect!)
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
3 rashers bacon
4 spring onions
Melt butter in pan, add flour, cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Add milk, stir until sauce boils and thickens. Remove from heat, add cheeses, stir until cheese melts.
Chop bacon finely, add to dry pan, cook until crisp, add chopped spring onions, cook further 1 minute. Add bacon mixture to sauce. Add salt & pepper.
Slice each bigne in half and fill with a spoonful of filling. Don't overfill, as the filling may spill over when heated. Replace with top of bigne and sprinkle with Parmesan.
To serve, place in a hot oven (~190) for about 10 minutes, until filling is heated through and the bigne are nice and crisp.
Note: a double portion of the filling is enough for 1 packet of small bigne (30 pieces)