This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.
My very first Daring Baker’s Blogroll (http://www.thedaringbakers.com/) monthly challenge! Although I was excited about this challenge, January was a very busy month for me as I had several grants to write. Predictably, I wasn’t able to give this challenge my full attention, and left it until the very last minute, with the result that my tuiles weren’t quite what I had hoped for. I originally had dreams of being super fancy, maybe pairing my tuiles with a homemade mango mousse, but it was not to be. In the end, I have to say that I was only moderately pleased with the result, since I cut a lot of corners (literally as well as figuratively!). However, the recipe worked well enough that I can envision making tuiles again, and being infinitely more pleased with the results.
For those who do not know (neither did I until this challenge), tuiles are a lightweight, dry, crispy French cookie. The name actually means “tile” in French, because its traditional shape has the slight curve reminiscent of old-fashioned roof tiles. To my eyes, traditional tuiles look kind of like Pringles potato chips, although I’m sure pastry chefs everywhere would cringe at the comparison. They can actually be made into a variety of shapes, almost anything you want. The catch, however, is that the cookies can only be molded into shapes while they are still warm which, given their thinness, isn’t a whole lot of time.
There are a few different ways to make tuiles, but because they need to be so thin, spreading them over a stencil seemed the easiest to me. There are a number of sites that carry commercially available pre-cut tuiles molds (for example http://www.bakedeco.com/dept.asp?id=170). After some careful consideration (and a lack of time and budget) I decided to make my own round stencil, and make cup-shaped tuiles that could be filled. To that end, I bought a silicone mat, and traced a large circular cookie cutter to make 6 holes. I also grabbed a few little tartlet pans (which were only $ 0.59 each at BB&B) to use as molds.We were given a choice of 3 recipes on the Daring Baker’s site, and I chose the basic sweet tuiles recipe taken from a book called “The Chocolate Book”, written by female Dutch Master chef Angélique Schmeinck. I, as it so happens, am NOT a master chef by any stretch of the imagination, and making this recipe underscores the tremendous amount of talent such baker-artists have.
Recipe:Yields: 20 small butterflies/6 large (butterflies are just an example)
Preparation time batter 10 minutes, waiting time 30 minutes, baking time: 5-10 minutes per batch
65 grams / ¼ cup / 2.3 ounces softened butter (not melted but soft)
60 grams / ½ cup / 2.1 ounces sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar (7 grams or substitute with a dash of vanilla extract)
2 large egg whites (slightly whisked with a fork)
65 grams / 1/2 cup / 2.3 ounces sifted all purpose flour
1 table spoon cocoa powder/or food coloring of choice
Butter/spray to grease baking sheet
Preheat oven: 180C / 350
Using a hand whisk or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (low speed) and cream butter, sugar and vanilla to a paste. Keep stirring while you gradually add the egg whites. Continue to add the flour in small batches and stir to achieve a homogeneous and smooth batter/paste. Be careful to not over mix.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up. (This batter will keep in the fridge for up to a week, take it out 30 minutes before you plan to use it).
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with either butter/spray and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This will help spread the batter more easily if using a stencil/cardboard template such as the butterfly. Press the stencil on the bakingsheet and use an off sided spatula to spread batter. Leave some room in between your shapes. If so desired, mix a small part of the batter with cocoa or food coloring and a few drops of warm water until evenly colored. Use this colored batter in a paper piping bag and proceed to pipe decorations on the tuiles.
Bake in a preheated oven (180C/350F) for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Immediately release from baking sheet and proceed to shape/bend the cookies in the desired shape. These cookies have to be shaped when still warm, you might want to bake a small amount at a time or maybe put them in the oven to warm them up again. (Haven’t tried that). Or: place a baking sheet toward the front of the warm oven, leaving the door half open. The warmth will keep the cookies malleable.
If you don’t want to do stencil shapes, you might want to transfer the batter into a piping bag fitted with a small plain tip. Pipe the desired shapes and bake. Shape immediately after baking using for instance a rolling pin, a broom handle, cups, cones….
The batter came together quite easily, and spread easily. My stencil worked like a charm, and my cookies held their shape wonderfully. I kept a careful watch on them in the oven, I think I ended up baking them about 7 minutes or so. But when they came out, that’s when the problems started. The cookies set up faster than I thought they would, mostly I think because I overcooked them a tad, so the edges set up almost the instant they were pulled out of the oven. The tartlet-pans-as-molds didn’t work quite the way I had envisioned, no doubt because the cookies were already partially set, so I ended up with tuiles that were only vaguely curved as opposed to the tart-shaped tuiles I had pictured in my head. And the second half of my batch set up before I even got the chance to mold them. But, the cookies tasted good – light and crisp. Several recipes online have additives: orange zest/juice; lemon zest/juice; almond extract; ground almonds, etc. I think that, if I repeat this recipe, I’d like to add a citrus flavor, either lemon, lime or orange.
The instructions for this month’s challenge said to pair the tuiles with something “light and fruity.” I bandied around several (labor intensive) ideas before I finally settled on lemon pudding with blueberry garnish, because I am a sucker for a lemon-blueberry combination. Then I downgraded it to lemon curd instead of pudding, because I realized I wouldn’t even have time to make a cooked pudding. Then I downgraded it again to lite lemon yogurt because…well…I already had it, and I didn’t have time to go to the store. My baking is all about the juxtaposition between my job needs and everything else. Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day, and I have to choose my battles. But the way I figure it, not only were my tuiles light, but lite. I definitely think lemon pudding (or even curd) and some whipped cream would be great, but they were still tasty with the yogurt, and the blueberries added a nice contrast.
On a scale of 1-10, I rate this challenge as a 6, mostly because of my own doing. There is definite room for me to improve, although with so many other interesting things to bake, I’m not sure I am motivated to do so. Even if the tuiles had come out looking perfect, I am not entirely sure that they would be worth the effort, even though I am leaning towards trying again at some point. I have to admit, I would like to take some time to master their cousin, the fortune cookie. I actually attempted a fortune cookie fold with one of the tuiles, having watched the technique on tv, but mine basically just looked like someone had taken a round cookie and folded it into quarters.