On paper, these light and airy cheese puffs look pretty similar to gougères (French cheese puffs often filled with gruyère). In reality, they're so much more. Inspired by chef and Chopped champion Palak Patel’s childhood in Atlanta (where biscuits reign supreme), these puffs also take a cue from the expansion of her "cheese palate" in Northern California and the bagels of New York City (where she lives now). The everything bagel-inspired seasoning—poppy seeds, white and black sesame seeds, dried minced onion, and the not-so-typical nigella seed—gets baked right on top of a light dough that’s mixed with gouda and cheddar. The result: a soft, toasty bite of cheesy goodness and warm spices that makes an easy appetizer or snack. —Palak Patel
Preheat the oven to 400° F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium-sized saucepan, add 1/2 cup water, the butter, sugar, and salt, and heat over medium-low until the butter is fully melted. Add in all of the flour and, using a wooden spoon, mix together until a ball of dough forms. Continue cooking the dough for 2 to 3 minutes, or until a "film" starts to form on the bottom and sides of the pan. Transfer the dough to a bowl or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and turn the speed to low. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing fully after each one.
Add in the cheeses and mix just until combined (if using a stand mixer, keep the setting on low). Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a small round piping tip (you can also use a zip-top bag with one of the corners cut).
Place tiny blobs of the dough in the corners of the baking sheet underneath the parchment paper to hold it in place. Holding the bag perpendicular to the baking sheet, apply even pressure and pipe a small amount of dough, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Repeat with the remaining dough, leaving about 1 inch in between each one. If you created any "peaks" on the tops of the dough, dip a clean finger into some water and gently pat the peaks away.
Brush each puff lightly with the egg wash and sprinkle the tops with as little or as much of the spice seasoning as you would like.
Bake the cheese puffs for 10 minutes at 400° F, then reduce the oven temperature to 350° F and continue to bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, or until they are golden brown.