Thursday, January 29, 2009

Daring to Bake in the New Year!

I was a little worried about how the Daring Baker challenge for January would fit in with my New Year's resolutions. But just as I began to really sweat over the possible ways to dispose of some enormous cake or dozens of doughnuts, I read the challenge and was delightfully suprised!

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.

Now, Tuiles are light and the perfect dessert for someone who is watching her waistline. They are 1 point on Weight Watchers, and the challenge was to pair them with some kind of fruit! Fruit is HEALTHY! Now I was excited.

The recipe is quite simple and is at the end of this post. But, basically, you have to make the batter, chill it, and then spread it thinly into a stencil. You bake it and then shape the still warm cookies. And they're thin and delicate and lovely.

So first, I had to make a stencil.

I chose to make it flower-shaped, and I used a heavy-ish plastic folder, because I wanted it to have a little bit of weight.

I used food coloring so that some of my flowers were white/uncolored, some were pink and some were orange. Then, I spread the batter thinly into the stencil (trickier than it sounds, but you get the hang of it). After they baked, I took them off of the cookie sheet immediately and used some juice glasses I have to shape them.

Some of my tuiles did not survive this process:

But I was very happy with the ones that did:

Then, I had to pair them with something fruity! Now, I'm in Brooklyn and it's wintertime. I don't eat a lot of fruit in winter. And I didn't want anything super-sweet. I wanted to stay light and low-calorie. Hmmm.... winter... not too sweet.... high in fiber.... CRANBERRIES!!!!

So I bought some frozen cranberries and 3 small cans of mandarin oranges and improvised a very simple relish by chopping the cranberries, mixing in the oranges and 3/8 of a cup of sugar.

My completed tuiles:

I LOVED this recipe. It was not too difficult, and a very interesting challenge. It felt more like a craft project than cooking, but there was a tasty product at the end. And best of all, I didn't feel guilty after eating more of these than I should've. I will make these again! In fact, I can't wait until someone I know has a bridal or baby shower. These are the perfect cookies for some very girly luncheon. They are light and pretty and girly. I wanted to eat them with my mom.
Now go! Check out the other daring bakers! See what fabulousness they came up with. And the recipe, as promised, is below.

This recipe is taken from a book called “The Chocolate Book”, written by female Dutch Master chef Angélique Schmeinck.
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 (I used food coloring.)
Butter/spray to grease baking sheet

Oven: 180C / 350F
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 overmix. 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. Mix a small part of the batter with the cocoa 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 wings and body of the butterfly.Bake butterflies 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 bakingsheet 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….