to thirty 2-1/2-inch tuiles
Addictive as potato chips, these thin, crispy, elegant cookies have terrific chocolate flavor. They are wonderful plain, but you can embellish them endlessly (see Nutty Cocoa Cookie Bark with Parmesan and Sea Salt or Holiday Cookie Bark, below).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. If using foil, smooth it to remove any wrinkles. Grease the silicone mats or the foil lightly but thoroughly with melted butter.
In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt. Whisk in the egg whites. Add the flour and whisk only until combined. Let rest for at least 10 minutes or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Drop level teaspoons of the batter about 3 inches apart onto the cookie sheets. Using a small offset spatula (and a template, if using) or the back of a spoon and a circular motion, spread the batter evenly into 3-inch rounds (or ovals or other shapes) about 1/16 inch thick. Bake, watching carefully, for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges are ever so slightly darker (look closely to see this color change) than the rest of the cookie. Rotate the pans from top to bottom and from back to front halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. If the cookies are not baked enough, they will not be completely crisp when cool.
As soon as you can coax a thin metal spatula under a cookie without destroying it, transfer it to a rack to cool flat. Or shape it by draping it over a rolling pin, nestling it into a little cup, or twisting it with your fingers. Working fast, remove the remaining tuiles; reheat if necessary.
Slide the foil sheet of cookies onto a rack to cool flat. Or, for curved tuiles, grasp the edges of the foil when the sheet comes from the oven (without touching the hot pan or the cookies) and roll it into a fat cylinder, gently curving the attached cookies like potato chips. Crimp or secure the foil with a paper clip. When cool, unroll the foil carefully and remove the tuiles. Alternatively, remove individual tuiles from the foil while they are hot (as soon as you can coax a thin metal spatula under a cookie without destroying it) and shape them as described above. Flat or curved, tuiles are easiest to remove from the foil when they are either very hot or completely cool.
Repeat until all of the wafers are baked. To retain crispness, put the cookies in an airtight container as soon as they are cool. May be stored airtight for at least 1 month.
Addictive shards of nut-topped cocoa tuile have a rustic appearance, a dainty texture, and loads of chocolate flavor. A hint of Parmigiano-Reggiano adds complexity—umami—but not enough to give itself away. You can omit the Parmesan and/or salt if you must; the cookies will still be very good. Or, instead of the Parmesan, you can sprinkle each sheet with 1/2 teaspoon of crushed dried rosemary (leaves, not ground) or 1/2 teaspoon crushed aniseed. Vin Santo, a rare cream sherry, or a ten-year-old Malmsey Madeira makes a divine partner for these.
Position a single rack in the center of the oven. Set aside 1/4 cup (1 ounce) each slivered raw almonds, raw pine nuts, raw hazelnuts (medium finely chopped), raw pistachios (medium finely chopped), 2 to 3 teaspoons finely grated Parmesan cheese or (even better) a small chunk of Parmesan, and a little flaky sea salt such as Maldon or fleur de sel.
Make the batter as directed. Pour half of the batter onto each of two cookie sheets. Use an offset spatula to spread an even rectangle of batter about 9 by 13 inches and less than 1/8 inch thick. For even baking, be sure the batter in the center is no thicker than the edges. Sprinkle each sheet evenly with half (2 tablespoons) of each nut and half of the Parmesan. (I prefer to grate a chunk of Parmesan directly over each sheet by eye—very, very lightly—with a Microplane zester.) Crushing larger flakes of salt between your fingers, sprinkle 2 tiny pinches over each sheet.
Bake one sheet, watching closely, for 11 to 13 minutes, until the batter turns a faintly darker shade of brown and the Parmesan turns golden brown. Rotate the pan from back to front halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. Set the baking sheet on a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the second sheet. When cool, slide a thin spatula between the sheet and the liner. The cookie should be completely crisp—not at all flexible (when completely cool). Break the cookie into random shards. If any pieces are not completely crisp, return those pieces to a 350 degrees F oven for 4 to 6 minutes. To retain crispness, put the bark in an airtight container as soon as it is cool. May be kept airtight for at least 2 weeks.
Bake and cool Nutty Cocoa Cookie Bark, without nuts, Parmesan, or salt. Coarsely crush enough peppermint or cinnamon hard candies or candy canes to measure 1/3 cup. Set aside. Following instructions on page 15, melt 2 ounces finely chopped white chocolate (not chocolate chips). Drizzle and drip half of the chocolate generously over each sheet of bark. Sprinkle candy generously over the drizzles. Refrigerate sheets for 10 minutes to set the chocolate. Break as directed and shake off any excess candy.
Tuiles (or "toolies," as young culinary students have been heard to say) are properly pronounced "tweel." The s is silent. If you don't speak French, you just can't win sometimes. But if you actually make these cookies, you win big! They are a quintessential cookie experience: ultrathin, elegant, addictive, very flavorful, and infinitely flexible (literally and figuratively) once you get the hang of them. They appear to be a project at first, and then you'll find that you want to make them again and again. This explains why there are so many tuiles in this book. I couldn't stop. You'll want to try them curved, rolled into little cigarettes, or shaped as tiny ice cream cones for a fancy party. You will invent your own flavors.
What's important to know about making tuiles? Timing is important: The cookies are very thin, so if you've never baked such thin cookies before, you might start by baking one sheet at a time on one rack in the center of the oven. Then you can graduate to handling two pans, remembering that you must rotate the pans, front to back and top to bottom, when you do. Measure flour scrupulously (see page 14 of the book or use an electronic scale). Too much flour in such delicate cookies will toughen them.
Pastry chefs use a small offset spatula to spread tuile batter into thin rounds with or without a template. Absent a template (which requires that you use a little offset spatula), home bakers may find it easier to smear the tuile batter out to the desired diameter with the back of a small spoon using a circular motion.
Cut stencils for tuiles out of any thin piece of plastic-such as a cottage cheese container lid or a flexible plastic place mat or cutting mat, or one normally used as a cutting board. Rounds, ovals, long cat's tongues, or any shape without intricate or fine detail will work perfectly: I've seen starfish, cacti, zigzags, spirals, and bunny rabbits. To use a stencil, hold it flat against the pan liner. Smear a little batter across the opening with a small offset spatula. Lift the stencil and repeat.
While cookies are baking, you can continue to spread batter on extra pan liners set on the counter (or on extra pans if you have them). Slide the batter-laden liners onto cookie sheets and into the oven as soon as the oven is empty. You do not have to wait for the pans to cool between rounds so long as the liners are already filled with batter when you slide them onto the pans and the pans go into the oven immediately.
This page created April 2011
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