Posted by betsy
I’ve been baking cookies for most of my life. For my 13th birthday, I received a copy of the classic Betty Crocker’s Cookie Book and a cookie press and I’ve been at it ever since. (I still have both the book and the cookie press!) I’ve dropped them, rolled them, and made them as bars. I’ve made biscotti, icebox cookies, and would say I’ve tried most of the cookie techniques out there. However, I was surprised at how challenging it was to make the seemingly simple recipe for this week’s French Fridays with Dorie assignment, Almond-Orange Tuiles.
Dorie tells the delightful story of enjoying these cookies in a Parisian bistro and after inquiring about their unusual flavor, being sent home not only with a container of dough but also the recipe to make them herself at home.
The tuile dough is simple to whip up. The cookie has only five ingredients, and the batter is light enough to mix by hand. You start with finely chopped blanched almonds. I chopped slivered almonds (the only kind I can easily buy that are already blanched) in my mini-chopper, then whisked in sugar and a small amount of flour. Next, the secret ingredient, orange juice, is stirred in, followed by melted butter. The dough needs to rest overnight.
Tuiles are named after the curved Provençal roof tiles they resemble. Shaping the cookies sounds simple enough. You bake the cookies until they are lacy and golden. Then, hot cookies are draped over a rolling pin to give them a perfect curved shape. For me, this was much easier to read on the page than to execute.
I baked a dozen balls in the first batch. The cookies spread and bubbled, and the edges turned golden. It was easy to transfer the first few from the pan to the rolling pin. Even though I was working fast, they were cooling too quickly and stuck to the pan. A few revisits to the oven helped, but none were as easy to transfer as those first 2 or 3.
For the next batch, I decided I’d try baking just six at a time. The smaller batch baked much faster than the first and didn’t transfer so well, so for the next six I turned the oven temperature down. Things got worse instead of better. In between batches, I ran cold water over the pans to cool them down and scrubbed the pan to remove the caramelized bits. I even stowed the bowl of dough in the fridge between batches. Even so, each batch seemed to race towards being burnt, in less and less time per batch.
I had VERY mixed success with these cookies. I don’t know whether I was overcooking them or undercooking them. All I know is that it was a struggle to remove the cookies from the pan, a key step in the process. After I made these, I saw a photo of what they should look like. These are much more golden than mine, but mine would have burnt before they reached the same even hue.
I did like the curvy shape and also how I could nest the cookies in the tin. However, these cookies were much more trouble than I have patience for. I don’t think I’ll try them again. In the meantime, we’ve been nibbling and enjoying them while they last.
One final note, decades after the gift mentioned above, today is my birthday again. It’s one of my favorite days of the year! Many thanks to all of you who’ve already left me good wishes on Facebook. Each one makes me smile and feel so lucky to have friends from all over the world who are fellow food enthusiasts.