Friday, January 30, 2009

Tuiles and Tartelettes

Tuiles en Tartelettes

This week has been a very busy one: hectic school mornings that makes you want to scream: "I don't want to go through this again!!" school meetings, classes, guests..... By the end of the day, the minute I put my head on my pillow I'm gone right away. Life has become so busy lately that I'm almost stealing time to be able to bake and barely finding enough time to take nice pictures. Honestly, I don't know how I could find time to make those tuiles for this month's daring bakers challenge. But, did I have a choice anyway??!!

Tuiles en Tartelettes

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. At first, when I saw the month's challenge, I thought it was an easy one. Easy yet I had to find a way to make these tuiles look pretty, original and tasty. Tarts are among my favorite types of desserts to make. I love the fruity ones, with a light cream. SO, I thought about combining the two: tuiles and tarts. The result was unbelievably delicious : crunchy, creamy and sweet . The addition of all extra components made the tuiles taste richer. I put a layer of dark chocolate on the tuiles to avoid sogginess, followed by a Crème mousseline for the plain ones and a chocolate mousse for the chocolate ones.

Tuiles en Tartelettes

This recipe is easy especially when you make things ahead. Many of the components could be made earlier. The tuile batter can be made and kept in the fridge for up to a week and the creme mousseline can also be made up to 3 days before, just add the heavy cream before using.
Although this challenge was made under very stressful circumstances, it turned out a pretty tasty one (which I didn't expect by the way). Tuiles are very versatile after all!!

Tuiles en Tartelettes


65 grams softened butter (not melted but soft)
60 grams sifted confectioner’s sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large egg whites (slightly whisked with a fork)
65 grams sifted all purpose flour
1 table spoon cocoa powder/or food coloring of choice
Dark and white chocoalte melted

Preheat your oven to 180C / 350F

Using a hand whisk or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (low speed) and cream butter, sugar and vanilla to a paste. Keep stirring while you gradually add the egg whites. Continue to add the flour in small batches and stir to achieve a homogeneous and smooth batter/paste. Be careful to not overmix.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up. (This batter will keep in the fridge for up to a week, take it out 30 minutes before you plan to use it).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with either butter/spray and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This will help spread the batter more easily if using a stencil. In this case I used a stencil that I cut out using a plastic cap (big yogurt box).
Divide the batter into 2 big parts and one small. keep one part plain, add coco to the other one and color the small part into any desired color.
Press the stencil on the bakingsheet and use an off sided spatula to spread batter. Leave some room in between your shapes. Use the colored batter to make decorations.

Bake the tuiles for for 5 to 10 minutes until the edges are lightly browned. Immediately after removing them from the oven, place the round "tuiles" into the muffin pan and shape until you form a sort of cup. This step should be done one tuile at a time. If the tuiles get hard (they will very fast) put them back in the oven for few seconds and repeat. Let the cups cool.

Once cooled, brush the interior of the cups with the melted chocolate. Use white chocolate for the plain ones and dark chocoalte for the chocolate ones. Put the cups in the fridge help the chocolate set.

Chocoate Mousse

100 g dark chocolate
1/2 sheet gelatin
1/2 cup heavy cream

Melt the chocoalte over double boiler. Meanwhile, soften the gelatin in cold water. Add the soften gelatin to the melted chocolate. Mix until smooth. Se aside to cool a little bit.
whip the cream and fold it into the chocolate ( be careful not to fold the whipped cream when the chocolate is still warm otherwise the cream will melt)

Crème Mousseline:

Creme mousseline is a basic pastry cream enriched with whipped cream.

1 cup whole milk (don't use low fat versions please)
2 egg yolks
40 g granulated sugar
30 g corn starch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Heat the milk in a pan over medium heat. Meanwhile, combine the egg yolks, sugar and corn starch and mix until well combined. Gradually, add the hot milk. Put the mixture back in the pan and cook, stirring continuously (not the time to answer the phone!) until it thickens. Off heat, stir in the vanilla. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and let cool at room temperature then into the fridge for up to 2 days.
When ready to use, whip the cream and fold it into the COLD pastry cream.

Preparation of the tarts

Fill the cups with either the creme or the mousse decorate with berries, chocolate curls and enjoy!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Almond Surprises

Almond Cookies

What can I say about Algerian cookies: beautiful, extremely tasty, rich, distinctive and definitely different from any other cookie you've ever seen or tasted. There are many different types of cookies depending on the region. Algeria is a big country (the 2nd largest in Africa) with so many different cultural and culinary traditions. But most of these delicacies originate from the capital Algiers. I don't know exactly where all these cookies are originally from (may be some Turkish influence), but they sure are delicious looking and tasting. Most of these cookies are made with almonds and some other nuts (walnuts, pistachios...). Sometimes made entirely with nuts and others include an outer layer of different types of doughs. The main flavorings are orange blossom water or rose water and citrus (lemon). Sometimes we add vanilla for extra flavor.

Almond Surprises

These particular cute little ones are called "The bride's Package" I'm not sure though if "package" is the right word. I couldn't find the direct translation. In Algeria, the bride would get a big basket full of different things brought by the groom or the groom's family. They would bring this basket (pink or white usually) and show it on the wedding day to all the guests ( I know it sounds weird!). I always found it very funny when they start to grab the stuff (shoes, handbags, perfumes...etc), say the name of the object and show it to everybody. I am not sure if they're still doing it to this day but I bet some regions are.

The cookies are made with a very simple dough, rolled out very thinly. You can color the dough whichever way you want, make different colors, strips...etc. They are then rolled out all together. After the dough is rolled out (using a pasta machine), it is cut into circles. A ball of filling is put in the middle of the circle then closed to form a surprise like package. They are then cooked and plunged in an orange blossom simple syrup or honey.

Almond Cookies

I'll try to explain this recipe as clearly as I can which is kind of hard without any illustration. while I'm working, especially with recipes that require a bit of attention, I cannot handle the camera. I have an issue concentrating on two different things I guess! But if you read the recipe and still have questions don't hesitate to ask, I would be more than happy to help.

Almond Surprises Courtesy "Algerian Heritage" :)

Dough (Outer layer)

note I'm using a "measure" which means use the same cup to measure the different ingredients. Could be a cup, 1/2 cup....etc. For instance if you use the "1/2 cup" you would need a 1/4 cup of the clarified butter. Also, I usually use the food processor to make the dough.

3 measures all purpose flour
1/2 measure clarified butter
pinch of salt
1 measure orange blossom water

In a bowl, mix the flour, clarified butter and salt. Work the ingredients between your hands until crumbly. Start adding the orange blossom water slowly until you get a dough. It shouldn't be very soft. Add enough water to make a dough that is not sticky. If using the food processor, follow the same instructions. Divide the dough into balls and color each one with the desired food coloring. It takes some time for the color to get incorporated in the dough, just keep working the dough with your hands and be patient! Keep the dough balls in a ziploc bag and let them rest for at least 30 minutes at room temperature.

Almond Filling

300g ground blanched almonds
180g powdered (confectioner) sugar
1 large egg
Zest of 1 large lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all the ingredients until you form a dough. It shouldn't be sticky to the touch. Form into a walnut size balls and keep in the fridge until ready to use.

Orange blossom & Lemon Syrup

2 cups granulated sugar
5 cups water
1/4 cup orange blossom water
2 TBsp lemon juice
Lemon peels from 1 large lemon

In a sauce pan, mix the sugar, water and the lemon peels. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Off heat add the orange blosoom water and the lemon juice. Cover and let completely cool. The syrup should be cold when used.

Preparation of the cookies

Prepare your pasta machine. If you don't have one, you could use a rolling pin, but I don't think the result will be the same since we want the dough to be very thin. Plus, the machine makes the work much easier and faster.
If you want the cookies to be just one color (like the pink ones I made) there won't be too much work to do, you would put the dough through the machine and roll it out on the thinner setting.
If you want the multi colored stripped dough, here is what you would do: make strips out of the different colored doughs. Stuck the strips by alternating the colors. Make sure they are well glued to each other, you could use some water to make them stick (go easy on the water please!). Start rolling the strips on the medium thickness of the machine, then roll it again on the thinnest setting. while you're rolling and working, use some corn starch to make the dough dry out a little bit. Spread some corn starch on your work surface and lay the rolled out dough. Let it sit for 3 to 5 minutes, then cut out circles about 5 inches in diameter. Let the circles dry out another 5 minutes.
Put in the middle of each circle of dough a ball of filling and close the whole thing gently to form a
surprise package or some kind of a basket. Press gently so the dough in the middle stick well and won't open up during baking. Be careful not to press hardly otherwise the dough will get cut and the filling will come out during baking.
finish making all the cookies and arrange them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Let the cookies sit for at least an hour before baking. The more they sit the better they will keep their shape while baking.
Bake the cookies in a 320 f preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. They shouldn't get brown at all to keep their nice color. As soon as they come out of the oven, plunge them in the cold syrup. Let them soak the syrup for 1 to 2 minutes. Arrange the cookies on a cookie rack with a baking sheet underneath it to drain the excess syrup.

Note: You can use Honey thinned with orange blossom water instead of the simple syrup. Just heat the honey and orange blossom water and let the mixture cool. The consistency of the honey should be like a simple syrup.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A New Year!

A whole year had passed by and a new fresh one is already here! so many things happened, some good, and some not that good. Any resolutions? I'm not the kind of person who thinks about it that way. All I want is happiness and good health for my family. On the personal side, I just wish to be a better person, and avoid mistakes from the past. It is true that we learn a lot from our mistakes, and I did learn quite a lot from last year's ( I hope). Any wishes for this new year? hmmm.......for now may be a house with plenty of sunlight so I can take nicer pictures and a new camera lens........too much to ask for may be??!!

2008 was a year full of cakes, cookies, tasty pastries (and a lot of non tasty ones!). Since I've been addicted to flickr, I baked and baked ......and baked a lot! I found a good excuse to go, grab the mixer and bake something. And if baking alone wasn't enough for me, taking pictures has become an essential part of the whole process.

Happy New Year!

To start the year, I made a mousse cake. It has a layer of almond dacquoise, a light orange mousse, strawberries and a glaze made with raspberries and strawberries. It is a delicious cake, very light and refreshing. I think it is best for summer days, but in my family, we sure wouldn't mind enjoying it any time of the year.
The recipe is from "Here". I know.. it is a French site (sorry non French speaker!) I'll post the recipe some other time. I made some changes in the recipe though, I used oranges in the mousse instead of the grapefruit (I wish I had grapefruit on hand because I love the flavor of this fruit). The oranges worked well with the berries and the cake had a nice citrus flavor.

Berry Orange Mousse Cake

Voila, first post of the year, first cake of the year . I wish everyone a very happy new year, full of joy and good health.