Single Serving Cheese Puff

Considerably easier than the recipe that inspired it.

Actual cheese puffs were made a bit more like this version from the March 30, 1898 edition of The Perry (Iowa) Daily Chief:

Cheese puff ball, while a little troublesome to prepare, will repay one for the time spent in their manufacture. Stir together five tablespoonfuls of flour, a salt-spoonful of salt, and a pinch of paprika. Have ready on the fire a large cup of boiling water into which three dessert spoonfuls of butter have been melted. Into this turn the flour and cheese mixture and as it boils [beat?] for several minutes. Remove the saucepan from the stove and let the contents get thoroughly cold. Then add three unbeaten eggs, and beat all hard for twenty minutes. Drop (several inches apart) heaping teaspoonfuls of the mixture upon greased paper in a baking pan and bake for twenty minutes. Like the soufflé these balls must be eaten as soon as baked, as they fall if allowed to stand.

Hmm, boiling water and butter into which a flour mixture is stirred… where have I seen something like that before? Oh, right: in the post for Yesterdish’s eclairs, written by pastry master Dori. Dori said: Real eclairs are made with pâte à choux, which is a pastry dough made from flour, butter, eggs, and water.

In that case, then cheese puffs are just an Americanized name for gougères, the French cheese and choux pastry puffs that have been enjoyed in that form since at least the 18th century. (Nobody is quite sure where the name originated, and believe me, I’ve tried to figure it out.)

Gougères by stacia lynch, on Flickr (CC license) (cropped)

Instead, what we have here is a recipe that showed up around the 1970s, like this version from the April 30, 1971 edition of the Muscatine (Iowa) Daily Journal:

Cheese puff

4 slices, buttered on both sides
1 pound cheddar or American cheese, cubed
4 eggs, beaten
1-3/4 cups milk
Salt, pepper, paprika to taste

Grease two quart casserole. Place two slices of bread in the bottom, then half the cheese, two more slices of bread and top with remaining cheese.

Stir together milk, beaten eggs and seasonings. Pour over bread and cheese, cover and refrigerate four to six hours or overnight.

Return to room temperature and bake at 375 degrees, uncovered, for 35 minutes or until golden golden brown.

From a box sold in East Moline, Illinois.

1 Serv. Cheese Puff

1-1/2 slices white or whole wheat bread, b uttered
1 egg
1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. shredded processed cheese
1/8 tsp. onion salt
1/8 tsp. salt
6-8 drops hot pepper sauce

Place bread strips buttered side down on sides and bottom of 10 oz. custard cup. Add beaten egg and other ingredients.

Bake at 350 deg. on baking sheet for 35-40 minutes until puffy and golden brown.

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