It's the end of January already and time to post the results of the first challenge of 2009, from the Daring Bakers. This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Baking Soda 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. (Recipe HERE.)
The ingredients are simple: butter, powdered sugar, flour, egg whites (slightly whisked), vanilla and, for my decorations, a tiny drop of red food coloring. The recipe results in only a tiny bit of dough, but it is sufficient for making quite a few cookies, since they are shaped by spreading the dough with a spatula over a thin template, so the dough is no thicker than the template. I decided to do hearts, since Valentine's Day is coming up. And I made my template from a piece of art foam, a little less than 1/8" thick.
After laboring (albeit with love) over the Yule Log last month, these thin, crisp, delicate little cookies were a breeze, and lots of fun to bake and shape. "Tuile" (pronounced "tweel" - sort of) is a french word meaning "tile," because the cookies are supposed to resemble the curved tiles on a roof. Traditionally they are baked flat and then set over a curved surface while still warm, giving them their characteristic curved-tile shape. I chose to shape my valentine cookies over a series of three small dowels, laid side-by-side, trying for a rippled shape.
I read somewhere that the surface should be slightly bumpy, something like the skin of an orange. There was a French word for that texture, but I've forgotten it. If you look at this closeup, I think you'll see that typical surface texture.
The Daring Bakers challenge also required that we serve the tuiles with some sort of a fruit accompaniment. For mine, I made a berry compote, by cooking up raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Here is the final result. The little vanilla flavored tuiles, along with the berry compote and a dollop of whipped cream were really tasty. Just ask Dan!
I wasn't really satisfied with the thickness of my tuiles. I decided that my template was slightly too thick. I used a second, thinner template with a bit of the left-over dough, and the result was a couple of cookies thinner than potato chips (see above). They were almost transparent, and extremely fragile. But they tasted wonderful, literally melting on the tongue. I think the proper thickness of template lies somewhere between my two, and I know I'll have to keep trying to get them perfect.