Wafer-Thin

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’s Finest Desserts. And thank goodness they chose something so light and versatile, because I wasn’t able to try my hand at one of the recipes until this morning!

Payday isn’t until tomorrow, so the cupboards are looking a little bare. Part of this Daring Bakers assignment was to pair our tuiles with something light: a dip, a mousse, a sorbet, something fruity, you get the idea. I had the ingredients to make a chocolate-coconut sorbet from The Perfect Scoop, so I decided to pair that with a simple vanilla tuile. I was able to mix up the sorbet base before Nolan woke up this morning, but he’s been getting up earlier and earlier these days (a bit sad for me, as I was able to get so much done in the mornings when he slept until noon), so he got to supervise the tuile construction from his high chair. I cooked up the egg yolks leftover from making the batter, and they kept him busy while I worked.

The pizza dough I made the other night had screwed my Kitchenaid mixing bowl too firmly into the base for me to remove myself (this always seems to happen when I knead dough in it), so I took a chance and whipped up the tuile batter in my food processor instead, making sure to pulse as little as possible to avoid overbeating it.

I first made a single test-tuile by simply smearing some batter on my silpat with a spoon, trying to keep it thin and even, and pulling it out of the oven when the edges were just starting to brown. I shaped it over my rolling pin for simplicity’s sake, and although it came out a little spongy, eventually it did harden into a little cookie-taco thing. I would definitely recommend doing test-rounds, because the recipe was not very specific about how thick the batter should be, and with such delicate wafers, the difference between a soft cookie and a burned one could be a matter of seconds since every oven bakes in its own time.

While the cookie sheet cooled down, I decided to make a quick stencil for my next batch of tuiles, realizing how much easier that would make spreading the batter thinly and uniformly. I didn’t really have time to get creative with the shaping, since Nolan’s interest in the egg yolks was flagging, so I cut out long strips to shape into curls, and a wider rectangle to make cigars. I would have loved to make ice cream cones for the sorbet, but lacking any sort of cone shaper, that will have to wait for another time, maybe this summer. For the stencils, I just cut my shapes out of a piece of cardboard salvaged from a Costco-sized box of Mini-Wheats, slightly more sturdy than your average cereal box, but still less than a millimeter thick. The batter spread easily over it with my new off-set spatula.

I curled the strips around #13 straight knitting needles to make my corkscrews. It took a few rounds to get the right balance of baking time (6 minutes in my oven was ideal for the stenciled shapes) and shaping speed. I think I burned a few of my fingers a little in the process—those cookies are HOT while they are malleable!—but eventually I got a few decent curls, and I even played around with decorating my batter as the recipe suggested.

This photo shows my learning curve. I had definitely improved by the time I ran out of batter, but I could really use more practice. I can understand how people could really get into the creative aspect of making tuiles: they are incredibly fun and versatile, with thousands of options for shapes and flavors and whimsical decorations. Having made these, I now want to try making Parmesan salad cups and almond-butterscotch lace ice cream cups and fortune cookies and tuile flowers and butterflies and all number of things.

I had to photograph the sorbet fresh from the churn so it started melting really quickly, and I wasn’t able to get a very good photo of it. I’ll have to try again once it’s ripened in the freezer for a bit. It tasted great with the tuiles, however; they made delicious little scoops that tasted just like fortune cookies. I was surprised at the rather small yield of the batch, and under my present circumstances, it did seem like kind of a lot of work for the outcome, since they require rapt and immediate attention that doesn’t combine well with the demands of a 10-month old. But it was still fun to try, and whetted my appetite to play with tuiles again in the future. The recipes are available at our hosts’ websites, and be sure to check out the wild creativity of all the other Daring Bakers at our blogroll!

I am a member of the Theta Class of the Daring Bakers, induced in July of 2007. For more information and a list of my previous challenges, click here.

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4 thoughts on “Wafer-Thin

  1. January 29, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    Your tuiles turned out gorgeous! Great job on this month’s challenge.

  2. January 30, 2009 at 10:45 am

    I love the bold stripes of chocolate color, and the inch worm is my favorite. 🙂

  3. January 30, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Perfect corkscrews and your little guy is just precious! Nice job 🙂

  4. February 1, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    My boys have been in the same “predicament” when they were that age! So cute to see. Your corkscrews are awesome!
    (Would you believe I had the wonderful idea to shape corksrews on a clotheshanger? So I had two hands to work with while it hang from my ovendoor? yeah right, I couldn’t get it off without breaking… either the clotheshanger or the cookie…)

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