Archive for December, 2012

A Cloud Of Cookies

December 8, 2012

IMG_0579The winter holidays arrive before the garden’s shut down or you’ve caught your breath from the church rummage sale. Of course you can whip up a couple of extra pies, iron all of Grandma’s antique linen tablecloths, keep Catherine’s dogs another day, babysit the twins some extra hours, send in some quiche bites for the open house and make sure dinner’s on the table every night at six. Pretty soon you’re ending each day making a long list for tomorrow, waking up in the middle of the night wondering if there are shrimp in the freezer, and hopping up before dawn to get a walk in before you start the next batch of spritz.

Then it hits. You’re tired; you feel a catch in your throat and you begin to cough. “Oh, please hold off another couple weeks,” you beg. But the cough grabs you. Pretty soon you give in and you pull the shades for some rest.

Once a breath of energy trickles back, you take on a few easy tasks. With a stool pulled up to the counter and a good story on the radio, you can dip out and bake almost 200 elegant French cookies in an hour or so. These have only five ingredients, mix quickly and will be unlike any others on your friends’ cookie trays. A lacy, light cookie that gives the taste of roasted almonds, caramelized sugar and butter, almond tuiles will star with poached fruit, ice cream or frothed up coffee.

Almond Tuiles

4 oz. unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)

½ cup egg whites

14 oz. sugar (2 cups)

3 oz. all-purpose flour, sifted (bleached) (½ cup plus 2 tablespoons)

¼ teaspoon salt

8 oz. package sliced natural almonds (3 cups)

Preheat oven to 375º and have ready 4-5 baking sheet lined with Silpat mats or baking parchment paper. Rap the package of sliced almonds with the back of a chef’s knife to break up the slices, or crunch the sliced almonds with your hands to make smaller pieces.

Whisk egg whites in wide shallow bowl and gradually beat in sugar, flour and salt. Stir in melted (not hot) butter and almonds.

Drop cookies by rounded half-teaspoons onto lined sheet pans, placing no more than 15 on each tray. These cookies will spread into thin, lacy discs.

Bake two sheets at a time reversing the trays after 4 minutes, for a total baking time of 6-8 minutes per tray. Check photo for the results. The exact baking time will depend on your oven, the baking trays and the lining materiel. Darker, thin sheets will bake faster than thicker, lighter ones. Watch for oven hot spots and turn trays if necessary. Give yourself a quiet hour to mind the cookies and you’ll soon have 15 dozen lovely tuiles to share.

Mary Jo’s cookbook is available at Amazon.com    http://amzn.to/9lOnZv

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