Showing posts with label cookies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cookies. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Grand Marnier date balls

Date Balls 038 v2

2010 is almost upon us so let the New Year’s Party preparations begin!  If you’re just about ‘baked up’ as I am, you’ll be thankful for this easy recipe that takes less than 5 minutes to make and a few more minutes to form into balls for a pretty presentation. 

These Date balls shown in enormous detail above! are a standard dessert item at our annual Eastern Orthodox St. Nicholas celebration every December 19th and continue to please at every occasion beyond.   The infusion of Grand Marnier and orange zest in the dates creates an elegant and decidedly adult treat.  Chocolate plays second fiddle and acts merely as a binder.

I prefer Medjool dates for their dark, succulent flesh and intense honey-like sweetness.  Also known as the Queen among dates, the Medjool palm originated in Morocco and was brought to California in the early 20th Century where it has been cultivated ever since.  Dates were an important fuel for the desert tribes and nomads of north Africa and the Middle East.  Because they travel well, they were successfully introduced to the Greeks and Romans on the other side of the Mediterranean, where they were highly prized and sold at markets wrapped in gilded paper.  

Dates are high in potassium, fiber and  natural sugars which make them a perfect energy snack for athletes.  Check out my date energy bars that I make for my ride during the MS150 every year.  They are also marvelous in savory dishes.

I suggest you make the mixture a couple of days before you plan to serve the balls.  It will allow the rich flavors to ‘marry’ and we all know that good things come to those who wait ….


Place pitted dates, walnuts and Grand Marnier in a food processor

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Process until it’s a coarse mixture 

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Add orange zest and melted chocolate and pulse until it all comes together

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It’s that simple!


Date Balls – if possible, make the mixture a couple of days before you plan to serve.  Makes about 40 balls.

8 oz. (2 cups) pitted whole dates, preferably Medjool

1 cup walnuts

1 tablespoon Grand Marnier, brandy or orange juice concentrate

fine zest of 1 orange

½ cup chopped bittersweet chocolate or good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips (Callebaut, Ghirardelli 60% cacao or Guittard would work well.  The cheaper brands have too much sugar and are less flavorful).

sparkling (sanding) sugar or confectioner’s sugar

Put dates, walnuts and Grand Marnier in a food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped (see photo above).

Melt chocolate slowly in a double boiler or microwave. Add zest and melted chocolate to the date mixture and pulse just until the mixture comes together.  If necessary, add a little more melted chocolate.  Transfer to a bowl, cover and chill for a couple of days so that the flavors can blend.

When you are ready to make the date balls, scoop a little of the mixture (I use a melon ‘baller’) and shape into small balls using your fingers .  Roll in sparkling sugar or confectioner’s sugar.

Serve in decorative paper cups, if desired.

 Date Balls 020-crop v2 


Monday, October 26, 2009

Zora Kolači and images of the back yard

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Thank goodness David was the only one to witness my embarrassing moment in the back yard the other day.  I was enjoying the cooler temperatures and the crystal clear skies, and I was taking pictures with our brand new Cannon zoom lens. 

Here’s Esperanza (Yellow Bells)…

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and a White-winged Dove - one of three species who come to visit the bird bath and feeders:

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My 17-year-mistake, aka Cowgirl Joycie, was sniffing for coyotes and snakes…ok, no coyotes but snakes – it’s always a possibility when you live near a bayou.

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Favorite dog Chula, also known as Shederella, was chillin’ quietly in the bushes.

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Rocky LuLu’s head was buried in the Katy Ruelliano doubt also looking for small, unsuspecting creatures.


Even the garden art was minding its own business!

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The monarchs are migrating south and our yard is a reliable stop-over:  favorite Husbie plants native bushes that naturally attract butterflies…a gardening wizard is my man!  

I was lying in the hammock and I had just photographed this slim beauty feasting on the nectar of a Mexican milkweed plant when suddenly…

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Snap! snap!…quickly followed by a few more snaps and lo and behold within a couple of seconds, I was very rudely deposited on the metal support beam on the ground.  OUCH!  My back, my buttocks, my elbow…the camera…

was safe!   And sweet, considerate David had turned his head! 

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Just so that we are on the same page:  I AM NOT AS BIG AS THAT ENORMOUS HOLE!  

Favorite daughter’s hammock was left out all summer during the heat and drought, followed by several weeks of downpours, and then back with the stifling heat.  Those ravaging most destructive forces must have aged and weakened the ropes substantially… or was it bad construction - made in China, no doubt…?


Do you think it’s because I’ve been eating too many of these sweet, delicious and addicting Zora Kolači? 

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Zora Kolači have always been a favorite treat in my family.  In my native Serbia, Kolač (pronounced Kolach) is a pastry or cake, and Kolači are cookies or small cakes.  With no similarities to the filled yeast dough known in Texas as Kolaches, these bars have three layers: a sweet short crust base, jam in the middle and a moist and crispy meringue on the top.  These are easy to make and very popular with locals alike.

You start with a meaty nut, like walnuts002 v1 

Grind them as finely as you can.  I used my awesome Serbian grinder, but a food processor will do.006 v1

Pat the short crust pastry in the baking pan and spread it with a thick layer of raspberry (or apricot) jamYu-um!007 v1

Whip up the egg whites and sugar, then gentlyoh so gentlyblend them with the ground walnuts to make a meringue for the top.009 v1

With a crispy, cracked top and a gooey middle, chocolate brownies will have stiff competition!013-crop v1

Zora Kolači

Translated from Veliki Narodni Kuvar (People’s ‘Big’ Cookbook)


For the short crust base and filling:

1¾ cups (210 grams) flour

½ teaspoon (2 grams) salt

1/3 cup (70 grams) sugar

10 tablespoons (140 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 egg yolk

½ cup raspberry or apricot jam

For the meringue topping:

5 egg whites

¼ teaspoon (1 gram) cream of tartar

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (210 grams) granulated sugar

1 cup (140 grams) walnuts – measure and then grind as finely as possible, without becoming pasty

about 1 heaping teaspoon confectioner’s sugar, for dusting the top

Prepare a 8 x 8inch (20cm x 20cm) or a 7 x 11inch (18cm x 26cm) baking pan by buttering the bottom and sides and dusting with a little flour.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC)

Make the base:

Place flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a mixer (or you can use a regular bowl and hand-held mixer). Blend together. Add butter and egg yolk and combine until starting to form a ball. Don’t overbeat. Gently pat dough into the prepared baking pan. I does not have to be smooth. Spread jam over dough to about ½ inch (12cm) from the sides of the pan. Refrigerate while you make the meringue topping.

Make the meringue topping:

Combine egg whites and cream of tartar in a clean and dry bowl of a mixer (or you can use a regular bowl and hand-held mixer). With the whisk attachment, beat the whites until foamy and white. With the mixer on medium speed, slowly pour in the sugar. Beat until the mixture is stiff and shiny. Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the ground walnuts. Using a spatula, slowly and very gently mix in the walnuts by lifting the meringue from the bottom upward. You don’t want to deflate the meringue by stirring or using a mixer at this point. Spread meringue on top of jam without ‘working’ it too much.

Bake in a preheated oven for 25 to 35 minutes (depending on the size of the pan). The meringue should be light brown and start to crack at the edges when done. Cool on a wire rack. When cool, cut longwise with a sharp, thin knife, into about ¾ inch sections and crosswise into about 1½ inch sections. The meringue will crack as you go, but that’s ok. Rinsing and drying the knife after every cut will help achieve ‘cleaner’ edges. Using a sieve and about a heaping teaspoon of confectioner’s sugar, dust the tops and serve.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies

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Husbie is a huge fan of Nabisco’s Pinwheels Pure Marshmallow and Chocolate Cookies.  Alas, the fresh ones are only available in Texas during the winter months because the chocolate won’t melt during shipping.   So he was pleasantly surprised when I presented him with a Pinwheel, freshly made in our own kitchen, the chocolate coating still shiny and warm.

DBMiss Measure_v150x200 I had never thought of making them before I found out that the Daring Bakers’ Challenge for July was Mallows, a recipe by the Chicago-based pastry chef Gale Gand.  Based on the same concept:  a crisp cookie base, gooey marshmallow filling topped with a dark chocolate glaze - it’s a study in contrasting textures and flavors.  And the best part of it all is that we are enjoying my homemade attempt as we speak, during the hot Houston summer. 

Here’s the company line:  The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network

Thanks Nicole for choosing this challenge, and as always, thanks to Lis and Ivonne for founding our intrepid group of bakers and always keeping us on our toes!

Mallows (Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies)
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand

My comments are in blue.

About 2 dozen cookies

• 3 cups (375grams/13.23oz) all purpose flour
• 1/2 cup (112.5grams/3.97oz) white sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 3/8 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter
• 3 eggs, whisked together

• Homemade marshmallows, recipe follows
• Chocolate glaze, recipe follows

In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the dry ingredients.  On low speed, add the butter and mix until sandy.  Add the eggs and mix until combine.  Form the dough into a disk, wrap with Clingfilm or parchment and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
When ready to bake, grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silicon mat.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness (my cookie base was on the thick side, so make sure to roll the dough out thin), on a lightly floured surface. Use a 1 to 1 1/2 inches cookie cutter to cut out small rounds of dough.  Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.

Pipe a “kiss” of marshmallow onto each cookie. Let set at room temperature for 2 hours.

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Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicon mat.  One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the hot chocolate glaze.  I placed the cookies on a rack over a bowl and spooned the glaze over until the top and sides were covered.  I let them sit for a while to cool and moved them gently with a spatula.  Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.  Place on the prepared pan and let set at room temperature until the coating is firm, about 1 to 2 hours.

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Note: if you don’t want to make your own marshmallows (Cheaters!), you can cut a large marshmallow in half and place on the cookie base. Heat in a preheated 350-degree oven to slump the marshmallow slightly, it will expand and brown a little. Let cool, and then proceed with the chocolate dipping. 

Homemade marshmallows:
• 1/4 cup water
• 1/4 cup light corn syrup
• 3/4 cup (168.76 grams/5.95oz) sugar
• 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
• 2 tablespoons cold water (I used about 2 tablespoons more)
• 2 egg whites , room temperature
• 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar; bring to a boil until “soft-ball” stage, or 235 degrees on a candy thermometer.  Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve.  Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix.  Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites.  Add the vanilla and continue whipping until stiff.  Transfer to a pastry bag.

Chocolate glaze:
• 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
• 2 ounces cocoa butter or vegetable oil

Melt the 2 ingredients together in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over barely simmering water.  The glaze was easy to pour because was on the thin side, but it didn’t set completely.  Next time I will use less oil.

And if you get tired of the traditional shape, jazz up your selection with some sandwich cookies!

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cinco de Mayo!

linda landeros

Hola, dear friends!  Today many Americans of Hispanic heritage commemorate the victory of a small, ill-equipped Mexican army over a much larger and more sophisticated French militia at the Battle of Puebla.  The Batalla de Puebla took place on May 5, 1862.  Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day (that being September 16, 1821).  It is not widely celebrated in Mexico but is a regional holiday limited to the state of Puebla.

The Darling Bakers are also celebrating Cinco de Mayo today!  Here’s how the holiday came to be:  darling baker Napoleon III was determined to collect a loan and expand his empire.  His troops landed near the coast of Veracruz and proceeded to march towards Mexico City.  Abraham Lincoln, sympathetic to the Mexican cause, could offer no assistance because he was involved in his own war, the American Civil War.  In Puebla, General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin and his small militia were able to stop and defeat the French.  It was a sweet victory for a troubled country.

But that was not the end of the French!  Napoleon sent 30,000 (yes, thirty thousand!) more troops who eventually took over Mexico City.  His cousin, Archduke Maximillian of Austria became the ruler.  After the American Civil War, Lincoln provided more military assistance and Maximillian was executed in 1867.  That, in a nutshell is the story behind CDM.

That’s Linda Landeros in the picture above.  Landeros is a dance instructor and performer with many dance companies in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The colors in her dress express the spirit and vitality of the Mexican people.  In the US, particularly in the border states, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated with music, folklore dancing, art and of course food!

One of my favorite Mexican foods is grilled corn with a chili lime sauce.  I first came across it outside a local Hispanic grocery store called Fiesta.  The aroma of roasted corn wafted through the parking lot, leading me to a mobile kitchen where the vendor was slicing the kernels off the cob and into a styrofoam cup.  He topped it off with a delicious, spicy and creamy sauce.  My daughter and I just can’t resist this kind of street food!

Mexican grilled corn1 I broiled these in their husks.

Mexican grilled corn2

Quesedillas are also a favorite.  These are filled with crabmeat, roasted poblano pepper, roasted sweet red pepper, avocado, caramelized red onion, corn, cilantro, chili powder and Monterrey jack cheese.  I served them with my Cilantro Crema – sour cream, lime juice and chopped fresh cilantro. 

Crab quesedillas

This is how I like my cerveza:  ice cold and in an ‘O’ with lime.  Believe it or not, that’s the entire 12oz. bottle in there!


Lime suspended in a golden brew:


Mangos flameados comes from Diana Kennedy’s classic book The Cuisines of Mexico.  It’s a Mexican take on Bananas Foster crossed with crepes Suzette!  I served it with vanilla ice cream.   Mmmm….

Mango flammeado

These Mexican Nutella cookies are perfect with a cup of coffee.  You can serve them plain or with a dusting of powdered sugar.

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I leave you with a bite!   Adios!

Mexican nutella2 


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Coconut Butter Thins

TWD Coconut butter thins2

Late again with my TWD post.  Over a week late, I must confess!  Sometimes work, social events and training for a two-day 170- mile bicycle ride (MS150 Houston to Austin) just gets in the way of a blogger! 

I made Dorie Greenspan’s Coconut Butter Thins over two weeks ago and they were quickly consumed by me and my training buddies.   Fortunately for me, cycling demands an increase in calorie intake so I forget about the guilt and indulge in sweets to my palate’s content!  Bring on those hills!  My sugar-laden body owns them!

The basis of these rich buttery cookies is shortbread dough.  The addition of toasted macadamia nuts and coconut put a distinctive, crunchy spin on an otherwise plain cookie.  My favorite part of the baking process was rubbing the lime zest into the sugar.  My entire kitchen smelled fresh and citrusy.  These cookies are definitely worth a try and wonderful with a cup of coffee.

Thanks to Jayne at The Barefoot Kitchen Witch for choosing this recipe.  It’s probably not one that I would have been moved to make, but having done so, I’m really glad that I did.    These are the pleasant surprises that come with belonging to a group like TWD.  You can find the complete recipe and a funny account of Jayne’s cute daughter helping mommy make the cookies by clicking on the name of her blog above.  She even included detailed how-to pictures. 

And…I just couldn’t resist sharing this beautiful orchid with you.  It’s one of the many blooming orchids in my kitchen window.TWD Coconut butter thins1


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

TWD Caramel Crunch Bars


Yes, they are tall!  Unlike the suggestion in the book, I chose to bake the dough in an 8 x 11 fluted tart pan – more dough in a smaller pan  =  a thicker base.  I wanted a taller bar to serve at a special event this coming Saturday. 

My mother is always particular about her bar and cookie presentations.  Her sitne kolače (small cakes) are individual, bite-size pieces served on rectangular crystal trays.  There is always a colorful variety on each tray, with cookies placed neatly in rows.  These will fit right in! 

Thanks to Whitney of What's left on the table? for choosing Caramel Crunch Bars from Dorie Greenspan’s book Baking from my home to yours.  Please check her site for the recipe and to see how other bakers fared during the process.

For the base I used Ghirardelli chocolate baking bars, 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate, which happen to be my favorite bars for snacking!  I added 1/3 cup toasted and chopped almonds to the dough for a nutty flavor.  The espresso powder and cinnamon intensifies the flavor of the chocolate.  I wouldn’t leave it out.  If you like seriously sweet desserts, this one is for you.  Serve these cut in small pieces!

Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips melted on top of a thick base:twdcaramelcrunch2

Heath toffee bits sink into the warm pillow of chocolate:twdcaramelcrunch4

This is a great basic recipe that I am going to experiment with.  Next time I plan to sprinkle toasted, slivered almonds on top instead of the toffee bits.  Hazelnuts would be divine with the chocolate…or how about Nutella… berries… jam… whipped cream…



Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Fleur de Sel and a cookie worth its salt!


If you are a chocoholic, like my daughter Emilia, I predict you’ll flip over these double chocolate wonders called World Peace Cookies from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking, From My Home To Yours.   Originally created by well-known Parisian pastry chef Pierre Hermé, they consist of a shortbread batter enriched with cocoa powder, chocolate pieces and  a generous helping of fleur de sel.   

Fleur de Sel, ‘flower of salt’, gets its name from the flower shapes that comprise the delicate top layer of salt crystals that enter the marshes of Brittany, the Camargue, and Noirmoutier regions in France, and the Algarve region in Portugal.   These delicate crystals are harvested by hand and contain a higher mineral content than other salts.  They also retain a moistness which imparts a subtle scent of the ocean when the container is first opened.  Because it is so delicate and melts faster, fleur de sel is often used as a ‘finishing’ salt in desserts and savory dishes. 

The presence of the fleur de sel takes centre stage in this cookie.  Its addition intensifies the chocolate and draws out its warm, rich flavor.  You could eat an avocado, steak or rice pudding without a pinch of salt, but you’d be missing the brightness and essence  that salt is able to draw from them.   It is the essential ingredient in pickling and preserving and was once a spice high in value.  In ancient Rome, soldiers were paid in salt (it was their ‘salarium’, hence the word salary).


Thanks to Jessica of cookbookhabit for choosing these cookies.  Check out her blog for the recipe.  I made the cookie as printed, with fleur de sel and mini chocolate chips.  The batter came together nicely and the cookies retained their shape when baked and cooled.  If you can’t find fleur de sel you can use regular table salt, but use half the amount, as the recipe indicates.  If you are concerned about sodium intake, try them, but limit yourself to a couple a day if you can!  And fleur de sel will delicately replace the necessary electrolytes your body craves!


So, add some fleur de sel to your life…it is the ultimate flavor enhancer for any dish, sweet or savory!  And Emilia, my dear hard-working freshman in college, your cookie care package is in the mail!


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Terrific Tuiles! Another Daring Bakers Challenge!


I love the Daring Bakers Challenges!  I have made many fancy desserts in the past, but this group is introducing me to baking I have not attempted before.  That’s because I thought the recipes were daunting and beyond the capabilities of my domestic kitchen.   Thanks to the founders, Lisa and Ivonne for creating this group and for keeping us in line!  You rock! 

I was at first hesitant about making tuiles because they look so delicate and finicky.  My friend, Chantal, who has made every fancy culinary treat under the sun, convinced me that there was nothing to them.  Easy for you to say, my Belgian princess -  you were raised on Godiva chocolates, truffles and Hermes scarves!

Tuiles (or cornets) are traditionally thin, crispy almond cookies that are molded over a rolling pin or mold while still hot.  Once cooled, the tuiles resembled the curved French roofing tiles for which they are named. 

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.

After sifting through the eight page DB document, I decided that I was going to make the savory tuiles from Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry Cookbook.  Once the butter softened up a little, the batter was sooo easy to make - it took just a few minutes.  I decided on an accompaniment of shrimp  with a light sour cream filling.   We were told to think light, in opposition to the extravagant Yule Log we baked in December (if you’ve seen it, you’ll know what I mean!).


Here are the recipes:

Savory Tuiles/Cornets
From Thomas Keller "the French Laundry Cookbook" 

My changes are in italics

1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons (65 grams/2.1/4 ounces) all purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt (= 2/3 teaspoon table salt) I would use less, about 1/2 teaspoon
8 tablespoons (114 grams/4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened but still cool to the touch
2 large egg whites, cold
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the softened butter until it is completely smooth and mayonnaise-like in texture. Using a stiff spatula or spoon, beat the egg whites into the dry ingredients until completely incorporated and smooth. Whisk in the softened butter by thirds, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary and whisking until the batter is creamy and without any lumps. Transfer the batter to a smaller container, as it will be easier to work with.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Make a 4-inch hollow circular stencil (I used the cardboard back of a notepad and cut a 4.5” circle). Place Silpat on the counter (it is easier to work on the Silpat before it is put on the sheet pan). Place the stencil in one corner of the sheet and, holding the stencil flat against the Silpat, scoop some of the batter onto the back of an offset spatula and spread it in an even layer over the stencil. Then run the spatula over the entire stencil to remove any excess batter. After baking the first batch of tuiles/cornets, you will be able to judge the correct thickness. You may need a little more or less batter to adjust the thickness of the tuiles/cornets.

I was able to fit 3 tuiles (which measured 4.5” in diameter each) on a 11x17 silpat:


There should not be any holes in the batter. Lift the stencil and repeat the process to make as many rounds as you have molds or to fill the Silpat, leaving about 1 1/2 inches between the cornets.  Sprinkle each tuile/cornet with a pinch of black sesame seeds. 
Place the Silpat on a heavy baking sheet and bake for 4 to 6 minutes, or until the batter is set and you see it rippling from the heat. The tuiles/cornets may have browned in some areas, but they will not be evenly browned at this point.
Open the oven door and place the baking sheet on the door.  This will help keep the tuiles/cornets warm as you roll them and prevent them from becoming too stiff to roll. Flip a tuile/cornet over on the sheet pan, sesame seed side down and place 4-1/2 inch tuile/cornet mold at the bottom of the round. If you are right-handed, you will want the pointed end on your left and the open end on your right. The tip of the mold should touch the lower left edge (at about 7 o'clock on a clock face) of the cornet.
Fold the bottom of the cornet and around the mold; it should remain on the sheet pan as you roll. Leave the cornet wrapped around the mold and continue to roll the cornets around molds; as you proceed, arrange the rolled cornets, seams side down, on the sheet pan so they lean against each other, to prevent from rolling. 

I carefully lifted each tuile and draped it over an aluminum mold similar to a cupcake mold turned upside down.   This is the result when cooled:


When all the tuiles/cornets are rolled or shaped, return them to the oven shelf, close the door, and bake for an additional 3 to 4 minutes to set the seams and color the cornets a golden brown. If the color is uneven, stand the cornets on end for a minute or so more, until the color is even. Remove the cornets from the oven and allow to cool just slightly, 30 seconds or so.
Gently remove the tuiles/cornets from the molds and cool for several minutes on paper towels. Remove the Silpat from the baking sheet, wipe the excess butter from it, and allow it to cool down before spreading the next batch. Store the tuiles/cornets for up to 2 days (for maximum flavor) in an airtight container.

And here’s my recipe for the filling:

Sautéed Shrimp with Sour Cream Wasabi Mousse

1/3 cup whipping cream

1/3 cup light sour cream

1 teaspoon wasabi paste (green Japanese horseradish in a tube)

1 tablespoon finely chopped green onion (plus a little more for garnish)

1 tablespoon finely chopped red pepper (plus a little more for garnish)

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

10 jumbo shrimp, deveined, tails intact.

Salt, pepper, chili powder, olive oil

For the mousse:  Whip cream until it starts to hold its shape.  Add sour cream, wasabi and whip until thick and well-blended.  Fold in green onion, red pepper and black pepper.   Place in a piping bag fitted with a large tip (or just cut the end off the bag) and refrigerate until ready to fill the tuiles.

For the shrimp: Dry shrimp and sprinkle with salt, pepper and chili powder to taste.  Sauté in a little olive oil until cooked.  Cool slightly.

To assemble, place cooled tuiles on a serving plate.  Pipe about 2 tablespoons or so in each tuile.  Place shrimp on the edge of mousse and garnish with chopped green onion and chopped red pepper.

Then, impress your guests, including Chantal! I wish you were here to try them!


Now that I’m a tool for tuiles, I’m going to try the sweet versions as well and report back to you!


Monday, January 19, 2009

Shuna’s Shortbread and a Marathon


I seriously irritated my vocal chords yesterday whilst cheering for my friends during the Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Half Marathon.  My neighbor, Alma brought cowbells (her husband, John and sixteen-year-old son, Joey ran), and together we rattled and yelled at the top of our voices as the brave runners went by.  You see, I’m the world’s best cheerleader when it comes to marathons and I have a lot of admiration for people who jog for fitness, but personally, I think there’s an element of craziness involved in running a marathon.  Seriously, how sane can you be if  you’re willing to torture your mind and body by pounding the pavement for 26.2 miles!  Alma lost count of the times I mentioned the word ‘crazy’ at around 30!

Now the half marathon I can handle with a combination of fast walking and light running.  My dear friend, Dorota finished the half marathon yesterday doing just that, and she seemed much less the worse for wear afterwards.  One of her favorite cookies is shortbread, and I baked a batch especially for her and the crazy (there I go again!) runners to enjoy on marathon day.  I’m sharing the recipe below.

Sincerely now, many cheers to my friends who ran and beat the heat (the temperature reached 70F).   It is quite an accomplishment.  I was very touched at the finish line watching Joey and John run side  by side, a blind young man with his leader, fathers lifting their kids and running to the end (I’m choking up as I write) and many participants limping and grimacing all the way.  I hope you have an easy recovery and I’ll definitely be there next year to cheer you on!


Now for the shortbread:  I have been eyeing Shuna Fish Lydon’s recipe for a while.  Ms. Lydon is an accomplished chef and baker and is presently working in London.  I was introduced to her work during a Daring Bakers Challenge and my results of her delicious Caramel Cake recipe are on another website.  I plan to re-publish the post here on my very own blog in the near future, so stay tuned if you have not seen it yet!

Back to the shortbread:  Ms. Lydon recommends the dough be frozen or refrigerated before being baked and to look for a cookie that is uniformly baked (the color will be the same throughout).

Shortbread Cookies (My minor changes are in parentheses)

- Makes a baker’s dozen (I was able to bake 24 cookies)


8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

4 1/2 ounces sugar (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon)

3/4 teaspoons kosher salt

Dash of vanilla extract

9 ounces all-purpose flour (I used 2 cups, a little more than 9 ounces)

2 teaspoons minced herbs (I didn’t add the herbs but I’ll try it next time)

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice; or 1/2 a vanilla bean, scraped; or 1 tablespoon finely ground toasted hazelnuts; or 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds (I added about 2 tablespoons toasted, ground almonds)

1. Cream butter until smooth, add sugar and salt and cream a bit further, but do not beat ferociously as you do not want to incorporate air. Mix in all additions, one at a time, and fold in the flour gently but well.

2. Wrap dough as a flat disc and refrigerate for 2 hours.

3. You may do any number of things with this shortbread. I like to roll it out (sheet) between two pieces of parchment so as to get an even cookie without adding any more flour, which will make this cookie tough. If you sheet the dough, you may use any shape cutter. Shortbread can also be re-sheeted this way until you have no more dough.

4. You may also roll it in a log and chill or freeze log, baking only what you need when inspiration strikes you. If you go the log route, you may want to roll log in raw or turbinado sugar and then slice. Slice rounds no thicker than 1/2 inch.

5. Preheat oven to 300°F or 150°C.

6. Place cookies on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet.  If the bottom of your oven runs hot, double pan to ensure safety of your cookies. Set first timer for 15 minutes, at which time turn pan around to get an even bake. Set second timer for 8 to 12 minutes, but depending on your oven they may need a little more time.

7. With shortbread it is very important that a low and slow bake takes place and that the cookie is evenly dark golden. Color is flavor here. 

8. Shortbread will keep two days at room temperature, although they are best eaten the day they are baked.


The cookies passed the test of approval by all who savored them.  Buttery and rich, this recipe is a keeper!