Tuile, or No Tuile, That's the Question! Daring Baker Challenge January 2009
Posted Sep 15 2009 4:47pm
I t's the end of another month, we've (as in the Daring Bakers ) have been set yet another challenge and now you see the results this challenge has produced in kitchens from every part (well almost) of the world!
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.
Our challenge this month was to make at least one version (or all three, if we were upto it) of tuiles along with a simple and light accompaniment of our choice. We had to follow the recipe for making tuiles but were otherwise free to flavour, shape and serve our tuiles as we wished.
So, what is a tuile? That's what I asked myself. A tuile (from the French word for tile) is a thin, crisp and light cookie which was traditionally shaped to resemble slightly curved roofing tiles. This cookie is made by spreading the batter as thin as possible and then baking it. It is then placed over a slightly curved surface (a bottle on its side will do) while still warm and it will cool to take that shape. Tuile cookies can also be moulded into fortune cookies, little cups or flowers or rolled into cylinders and be made in a variety of flavours, both sweet and savoury. Tuiles can be used to decorate desserts or serve frozen desserts, mousse or even as delicate mini-tart cases.
My tuile making adventure:
Armed with all this knowledge and having referred to the a lot of pictures, I had plans to shape my tuiles so many different ways. Unfortunately, my plans remained just that. Plans! Ever heard of the straw that broke the camel's back? Well, this challenge was the straw to my camel!! This challenge brought to me down to my knees, not just figuratively but literally. But do read on.
Having had some success with doing an almost egg free challenge last month, I decided to do the same with this month's challenge too. I discovered a great post on VeganYumYum with a step-by-step tutorial and some wonderful pictures to make eggless tuiles. I halved her recipe as I didn't want to waste stuff in case my tuiles didn't turn out right. In retrospect this was a great idea! I made some stencils out of party paper plates, and just followed the recipe and instructions to the last letter. Looking through the glass window of my oven, I could see my tuiles bubbling and a sort of oily separation on top. After the stipulated baking time, I took the tuiles out. I let them cool a bit and tried lifting one tuile off the cookie tray. It just tore! So I let the others cool a little bit more. This time when I tried taking the tuiles off the tray, they broke!! And that was the end of that batch of batter and my patience.
A week later, I thought it wasn't quite Daring Bakerish to give up so easily. After all, other DBs were turning out beautiful tuiles, even those who used the recipe I did reported success. So I made another half batch of tuile batter and set to work. This time, they came out just right. My tuiles looked so pretty and they behaved so perfectly. Until I started to shape them, that is. Every time I tried to shape them, all I ended up with were broken pieces of tuile! This wasn't fair!! Where were the tuile "Gods" when I needed them? AWOL obviously!! Since I couldn't bring myself to throw away the little bit of leftover batter so I stuck it in the fridge.
Then last weekend, I remembered that batter and decided to give it one last attempt. There was just enough batter to make 4 tuiles. I added cocoa powder to about 2 tbsps of the batter and used that to decorate my round tuiles. They baked perfectly and I actually managed to shape them into the traditional tile shape. I decided not to get adventurous with shaping as there was very little batter. This was definitely not the time for experimenting. I couldn't believe I had done it! I had finally made the tuiles! Now I don't know why, but I had a feeling that I ought to take pictures of my tuiles before doing anything else and it turned out to be a good thing that I did.
We were having fruit salad with custard (eggless, made with custard powder) and I thought I could serve it in the tuiles. That's when disaster struck again! The box of tuiles slipped out of my hand and landed on the floor, with the lid intact. I told you this challenge had me on my knees, didn't I?
I opened the box to find my tuiles in little pieces. So I just chucked the stuff into the bin and we had a thoroughly enjoyable dessert minus the tuiles. Of course, unlike those legal cases which get thrown out of court due to lack of evidence (that's what comes from spending a lot of your younger years reading Erle Stanley Gardner's Perry Mason among other books), I at least have my pictures to prove I made those tuiles.
According to Stephanie Jaworski (Joy of Baking), in her Tuile recipe post, her cooking instructor told her that the test of a perfect thin tuile is to drop one to the floor, after it has baked and cooled. If the cookie shatters into small pieces it is thin enough. So I guess my tuiles made the grade even though they didn't make to the plate.
I still couldn't bring myself to admit that this challenge got the better of me. So I decided to make the chocolate tuiles. Tempering chocolate was something I had done many times before. Not that having done something many times before guarantees you success in a DB challenge, as many experienced and seasoned DBs will tell you.
I followed the instructions but used half and half of semi-sweet and milk chocolates to make the tuiles. Instead of using stencils, I spread the melted chocolate-toasted almond sliver mixture into circles on aluminium foil squares with a spoon. When the chocolate had cooled a bit, I draped each chocolate covered aluminium foil square over a greased bowl to shape the chocolate into bowls.
Strawberry Kulfi graced these chocolate tuile bowls, garnished with chopped pistachios. (The kulfi in my picture had started melting!) Kulfi is a traditional eggless Indian ice-cream made of sweetened and thickened milk usually flavoured with cardamom, saffron and nuts and sometimes fruit. Kulfi can also be made with condensed milk but I find this too sweet. Traditional kulfi does not use any thickening agent and is made by simmering and reducing full fat milk which gives this ice-cream its creamy texture and characteristic milky taste. Reducing milk takes a lot of time and I have used cornstarch here as a short cut but the traditional method gives you the best tasting kulfi.
My recipe for the Strawberry Kulfi:
500ml milk (I used 3% fat) 1/2 cup sugar 1/4 tsp salt 3 tsp cornstarch 1/2 cup strawberry coulis* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* Strawberry Coulis (I haven't specified quantities, as you can proceed according your taste):
Mix hulled and chopped strawberries well with sugar, a tsp or two lemon juice and 1/4 tsp salt. Keep aside for 30 minutes. Now puree the strawberries into a smooth mixture. Put this mixture in a pan and cook on medium heat (about 2 minutes) till it thickens slightly into a sauce. Add some vanilla extract and mix well. Cool and refrigerate. Use within 3 or 4 days. To make the Kulfi: Keep aside 1/4 cup of milk and heat the rest and sugar till it boils. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Dissolve the cornstarch in the 1/4 cup cold milk and add to the simmering milk stirring constantly to ensure no lumps are formed. Take the milk custard off the heat and cool a bit. Add the vanilla and strawberry coulis and blend well. Pour into a plastic or metal container and freeze. The kulfi should not freeze very hard but should have the consistency of a gelato.
Verdict: I don't really qualify to give an opinion this time. We did, however, taste the broken pieces and didn't find them quite to tour taste. I found the tuiles too buttery to be enjoyable. As for the chocolate tuile, I'm not sure it is a tuile but more of thin slab of choclate with slivered almonds. We love chocolate so of course, we liked it.
Please do not let my sob story dissuade you from taking a look at the creative tuiles in Daring Bakerdom.