Sunday, January 1, 2017

Tuiles - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 107th installment. The recipe is Tuiles (baked in July, finally blogged now!) 
This is one of those recipes that I have been dreading/anticipating.  I remember my first attempt to make this kind of cookie (I believe the recipe called them Lace Cookies) back in high school or college, and how unsuccessful it was! No photos of the occasion, but I remember it well. The picture in the book was enticing, but the reality of getting those cookies off the baking sheet was a disaster.  So, this post is dedicated to baking parchment and Silpat baking mats!  
The recipe in the book says "as easy to make as drop cookies" - I would call that an exaggeration.  Even with the amazing non-stick technology we have now, I think this are somewhat challenging, as they are fragile.  
The batter is very interesting - melted butter and heavy cream, coarsely ground almonds, sugar, a couple of tablespoons of flour, and orange zest.  It needs to be chilled overnight.
After chilling, you drop a teaspoon of batter for each cookie onto your parchment-covered sheet, leaving two inches between each cookie.   They are baked at 325°F for just 5 minutes - no multi-tasking while they bake, because you need to yank them out of the oven as soon as they turn slightly brown.  

Once out of the oven, you lay them on the rolling pin to make the curved shape of the "tuile" (French for "tile"). They cool into this shape quickly, and you take them off the pin to make room for more.

Once cooled, they are drizzled with melted semisweet chocolate.  

I found the edges of the cookies were still very fragile and prone to breakage as you handle them after baking. I wonder if it's possible to make these slightly thicker, so they are a little bit more sturdy.  I definitely want to try this one again to get the technique down.

Cocoa Nests with Caramel Mousse - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 106th installment. The recipe is Cocoa Nests with Caramel Mousse (baked in July, finally blogged now!) 
This is another multi-component pastry chef-style dessert. As described in the book, none of the components of this dessert are terribly difficult and it's a good chance to practice using the pastry bag!   This dessert was delicious,  and the directions are very clear, although it is not terribly practical for a home baker with time constraints (aka me :-)
Components are:

  • Cocoa meringue shells, the "nests"
  • Caramel mousse
  • Crunchy caramelized pecans (praline), chopped into small pieces
Meringue: beat the egg whites, and add sugar, beating until shiny (so far, so good):
You then fold in a combination  of powdered sugar and cocoa powder.  This seemed to really deflate the meringue - here it is after adding those dry ingredients:

You pipe this mixture with a star tip into 4" ovals you have drawn on your parchment, with a raised edge of stars to make the nest edge.  These are baked for two hours at 200°F, so they are super crisp.

This is one of the points at which things get slightly  impractical for the home baker - you now need a large surface area to store these pretty, but fragile shells. The recipe states that you can wrap them airtight and store them in a cool dry place for up to a week - good to know that they will keep, but how do you wrap these airtight without smashing them, and where is the mythical cool dry place with this much horizontal surface ? :-)

The remaining components both involved carmelizing sugar.  The praline involves carmelizing sugar on the stove until it colors to light brown, tossing in pecans to coat them with caramel, and then spreading this onto an oiled baking sheet (I used my Silpat silicone baking mat, because NOTHING seems to stick to that :-)   Once this is hard, you chop it finely in the food processor (sounded like chopping up rocks, but the blade did the trick).
Final component - the caramel mousse:  Again, carmelizing sugar on the stove, but for this, you add water to the caramel after it browns, and then some gelatin which has been dissolved in water with some dark run added.  You beat up six egg yolks and then drizzle in the caramel gelatin mixture, beating for an additional 5-10 minutes to cool the mixture down.  Fold in whipped cream, and you have the mousse.  
Assembly (pretty easy - most of the work is already done!): Pipe or spoon mousse into each shell, and then sprinkling with praline.  If you've got the time and space, this is definitely impressive, and the combination of flavors and textures is wonderful.

Crispy Cocoa Cookies - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 105th installment. The recipe is Crispy Cocoa Cookies.  (baked in June, finally blogged now!)
The time stamps on these photos say it all - I prepared the dough for these cookies on May 31st and baked them on June 4th.  This was a month of high school graduation and associated activities, so our household was very busy (in a good way!).

This recipe is one of those "hidden" ones in this book - there is no photo of it in the book (at least in my edition).  It's a very simple recipe for a chocolate crunchy rolled cookie. One of the surprising aspects is that only two tablespoons of cocoa provides all the chocolate flavor for 6 ounces of butter, 1.75 cups of flour and 1 cup of powdered sugar.  Rather cool, considering that some super chocolatey intense desserts have ounces and ounces of unsweetened and semisweet chocolate. 
The dough comes together easily - you combine butter with sugar, cocoa, vanilla and egg yolk (I wonder if this creaming is part of the secret of intense chocolate flavor):

Dough with dry ingredients added
and then add the dry ingredients all at once to turn the batter into a dough. The dough is chilled (in my case for several days :-) and then rolled out as thinly as possible.  This was the only tricky part, as this dough is not terribly sturdy. Being so think, it bakes quickly (6 minutes in my case), and you're done.  The cookie was very tasty, and  the chocolate flavor develops as it cools off.  It would make a good base for some kind of filling or icing.  After baking from Baking Chez Moi, I keep thinking of variations as "Bonne Idées", as Dorie Greenspan titles her side notes in that book.