1 cup shredded Gruyère, Emmental, Comté or other cheese (4 ounces)
1 beaten egg
Preheat the oven to 425°F (210°C).
Place the water, cut up butter, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a medium sized saucepan and place on low heat. As soon as the water boils and the butter has all melted, remove from heat.
Immediately stir in all of the flour using a wooden spoon. Stir for at least 2 minutes making sure everything gets well blended. The dough will form a single mass and the heat of the pan will dry it out somewhat.
Add one egg and beat the dough for about 1 minute to completely incorporate the egg. The result will be a very sticky dough. Repeat with the other three eggs, making sure you blend in one egg completely before moving to the next.
Add the shredded cheese and all but two tablespoons of the Parmesan. Stir to blend completely.
You can either use a pastry tube or two spoons (one to scoop and one to scrape) to form the balls. Use about a tablespoon of dough for each puff. Pipe or scrape the balls onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper, spacing them about an inch apart.
Brush the tops of the balls with a pastry brush dipped in the beaten egg. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining Parmesan cheese.
Bake at 425°F (210°C) for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and serve warm.
Makes about 40 puffs.
You can add different combinations of the following ingredients. My favorite combination is the above recipe, plus 1 cup diced ham, 1/4 cup chopped chives, and a good pinch of cayenne pepper.
Au roquefort -1 cup crumbled blue cheese replaces the other cheeses; you can add a couple handfuls of chopped walnuts as well.
Au jambon - 1 cup finely diced ham. This would work with crumbled sausage or finely diced chorizo as well.