Some people are great at picking out the perfect gift, while others, well, you just hope that they are not present to see your reaction when you unwrap the woolly holiday-themed sweater with the dancing reindeer motif. These are the parcels that make writing thank-you notes a challenge. I mean, you don’t want to lie and spend several sentences gushing about how you really needed more Rudolph-themed clothing, but there is no nice way to tell someone to simply stop sending you gifts because it would benefit both parties involved. So, until a more suitable solution is found, it looks as though gritting our teeth, forcing a smile, and saying "It’s perfect. How did you know?" is our best option.
I feel like I really lucked out in the gift recipient department. My mom is one of those people who tunes in to a conversation every time someone mentions that they "need" something throughout the year. She takes those little nuggets of information, stores them in a part of her brain that only really organized moms possess, and has all of her holiday shopping done by mid-October. Every year, I open up items which I’ve forgotten that I "really need." Hey mom, if you’re reading this (and I know you are) I "really need" for you and dad to move closer to Las Vegas.
Eric is equally talented at picking out gifts (even my mom is impressed.) Although his grandmother used to tell him that his gifts were not very romantic (this was after he bought me a Weber grill), he always gets me things that are very practical and useful, which I love. Last year, knowing that I was starting a blog, he got me a really great camera, with which I have photographed just about every morsel that we have eaten over the past 12 months. This year, he followed up with a professional-quality lighting system, so that I don’t need to subject my recipes to 100-degree heat every time that I need a natural lighting effect. I had originally intended to use the lighting for today’s post, but as I am not the engineer in the family, I clearly need a lesson first. So we’ll save the good lighting for the next post.
So, despite the photos that don’t do them justice, these crisp and thin tuile cookies really are delicious. Originally intended to imitate the shape of French roof tiles, tuiles are great to serve with coffee, ice cream, fresh fruit, or on their own for a little something sweet. The shaping process is really very easy, with impressive and delectable results. Here are some extra tips for making these curved cookies:
- You can omit the almond extract if you do not have any available. Orange, lemon, or coconut extracts can all be used as substitutes.
- To facilitate forming the tuile batter into circles, try to find something in your kitchen that is a circle of the correct size and then trace it with a black marker onto the parchment paper. Turn the paper over (you don’t want to get any ink on the cookies!) and use the circles to guide you. The batter is thick enough so that is does not run.
- If you don’t have enough rolling pins or wine bottles on hand, then just take a look in your pantry. I guarantee that you will find something suitable to use (bottle of vinegar, olive oil, etc.). For those bakers out there, if you happen to have one of those racks used for making French bread, those work equally well.
- Finished tuiles will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Toasted Almond Tuiles
Makes about 16
2 large egg whites, room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted and cooled
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using about 2 teaspoons of batter per cookie, make 6 mounds, spacing them 3-inches apart, and then spread them into 4-5-inch rounds with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon (they will be fairly thin.) Sprinkle each round with about 1/2 tablespoon almonds.
Bake the cookies until golden-brown, 7-9 minutes. Let the cookies stand on the baking sheet for 1 minute, then, working quickly, remove each cookie with a metal spatula and drape over a rolling pin or a wine bottle (you will need 2) to form a curved shape. Let stand until crisp, about 20 minutes. Transfer the tuiles to a rack to cool completely. Cool the baking sheet before making more cookies.