Saturday, January 24, 2009

Impress Your Guests! Sweet Additions!

If you're like me, you enjoy a great dinner out! As each course comes out of the kitchen, you look at the presentation and wonder "How did they make that look so good!". There are always special occasions when you prefer to entertain at home, but still want your guests to have that "how did they do that" look on their face when they see their food. An easy way to incorporate some pizazz into your cooking is to add simple, yet tasty garnishes to a few dishes.

One of the easiest courses to play with is dessert. You can add fun colors with fruits and sauces and make the mundane look amazing with a simple tuile, which literally means "tile" but in the culinary world it is basically a very thin cookie that you can shape any way you like before it hardens. They can have a lacy look, or be solid, but regardless of how you use them, they are always a wonderful addition to a plate! (Side note here, you can do savory tuiles as well, but we'll save that for another day!)

Wondering how you can achieve this masterful look? It's really simple! All you need is a plastic lid-(a coffee can lid works really well for this) or a pre-made template, a metal spatula and a non-stick baking mat (such as a silpat). Now you are ready to impress your guests!

Basic Tuiles

Total time: About 1 hour, plus at least 1 hour chilling time

Servings: Makes 24 (4 1/2 -inch) tuiles or 36 (3 1/4 -inch) tuiles or 72 (2 3/4 -inch) tuiles

If you are making tuiles with designs, set aside one-half cup of the basic tuile recipe and stir in 4 teaspoons good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder. Use the chocolate batter to decorate the basic tuiles.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon
powdered sugar
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup Eggology Egg Whites

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Set aside to cool while preparing the remaining ingredients.

Sift the powdered sugar and flour into a mixing bowl. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the dry ingredients and melted butter until incorporated. Beat in the egg whites, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl, just until the ingredients are combined.

Strain the batter through a fine-mesh strainer. Cover and chill at least 1 hour or overnight. Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator; let stand 5 to 10 minutes to temper.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Use a piece of flexible cutting mat or material of similar thickness such as a plastic coffee can lid to make a template. You can cut out circles or any shape you want!
Place the template on a Silpat-lined baking sheet. Spread a small amount of the dough until it evenly covers the template cut-out and doesn't come above the plastic-these are really thin!

If making tuiles with designs (such as stripes or polka dots), fill a pastry bag fitted with a straight round tip (small or medium, depending on how big you want your stripes or dots) with the chocolate batter. Pipe stripes or dots directly onto the tuile (leave the stencil in place and lift it after piping on the designs). To make a web pattern, pipe stripes onto the tuile and then gently drag the tip of a knife or a toothpick across the stripes to create the desired effect.

Bake three or four at a time so that you have time to handle them while still warm. Bake 6 to 7 minutes until lightly golden around the edges. Keep an eye on them over the last couple of minutes to make sure they don’t get too dark.

Remove the tuiles from the oven and begin molding them into the desired shape while they are hot from the oven. They’ll cool quickly, so shape them immediately. For classic tuiles, drape them onto a rolling pin until cool. To make cups, drape tuiles over a small inverted ramekin, bowl or glass. For pirouettes, roll them around the handle of a wooden spoon. For cones, shape them by hand. Once the tuiles have been shaped, let them cool on a wire rack. They should be eaten the same day they are baked.

For an easy filling, why don't you scoop up some yummy Cool Cravings! It's a great way to make a beautiful, delicious dessert!

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