I love making pate a choux or puff paste. Not only is making pate a choux a great skill to have in your cooking repertoire, it is fun to make. The process of transforming water, buttter, flour and seasonings--a very thick bechamel sauce--by adding eggs one at a time to make the paste swell is almost magical. Once the puffs hit the hot oven, they rise into tender orbs that become the base for appetizer or dessert. A pretty good pay off, I think, for the short amount of time invested.
Gougeres, from the Burgundy region of France, are created when grated cheese, be it Gruyere, Swiss or Parmesan, is added to the warm paste. They are the perfect bite with a pre-dinner drink, and they freeze perfectly. For your spur of the moment guests, don't even defrost them. Just pop them into a hot oven for a few minutes until they are crisp and enjoy.
I use Julia's classic recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1.
Try this link to see a gorgeous photographic tutorial on making gougeres.