I did it! I rose to the challenge!
At the end of December I signed up to become a Daring Baker, having stumbled across the group though Not Quite Nigella's blog. Was extremely nervous as I saw the creations from December's challenge appear on-line, and was beginning to think I should just change my mind and duck out in order to save face. I surprised myself, and actually it really gave me something to think about and plan during the rather dull month of January so I'm really glad I stuck with it. And so today I am very pleased to be publishing the results of the January Challenge.
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.
I admit to being somewhat relieved when I saw what we had to do. Relieved because 1) my oven is very unreliable for baking, 2) fancy ingredients could prove difficult to find here and 3) the past challenges I've looked at seemed a bit beyond me. The task was to make and shape the tuiles and pair them up with something light and fruity. I decided to go with the pretty butterflies, and served them yesterday's 'Mama & Me' group (as a treat for my very, very cute friend Hiroko's birthday) together with a white chocolate cheese cream and fresh strawberry coulis:
Yields: 20 small butterflies/6 large (butterflies are just an example)
Preparation time batter 10 minutes, waiting time 30 minutes, baking time: 5-10 minutes per batch
65 grams / ¼ cup / 2.3 ounces softened butter (not melted but soft)
60 grams / ½ cup / 2.1 ounces sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar (7 grams or substitute with a dash of vanilla extract)
2 large egg whites (slightly whisked with a fork)
65 grams / 1/2 cup / 2.3 ounces sifted all purpose flour
1 table spoon cocoa powder/or food coloring of choice
Butter/spray to grease baking sheet
Oven: 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 (I didn't use a mixer, just a good old fashioned fork). 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 (my kitchen is cold, so I didn't need to do this!). This will help spread the batter more easily if using a stencil/cardboard template such as the butterfly (I made my stencil from a milk carton). Press the stencil on the bakingsheet and use an off sided spatula to spread batter (it needs to be really thin, so I used another piece of the carton to scrape over the stencil). Leave some room in between your shapes. Mix a small part of the batter with the cocoa and a few drops of warm water until evenly colored. Use this colored batter in a paper piping bag and proceed to pipe decorations on the wings and body of the butterfly.
Bake butterflies in a preheated oven (180C/350F) for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Immediately release from bakingsheet and proceed to shape/bend the cookies in the desired shape. These cookies have to be shaped when still warm (within secoends, I found!), you might want to bake a small amount at a time (I did 2-3 at a time). Or place a bakingsheet toward the front of the warm oven, leaving the door half open. The warmth will keep the cookies malleable. Shape immediately after baking using for instance a rolling pin, a broom handle, cups, cones (I used, once again, a milk carton)...
I decided to minimise the risk of the tuiles hardening before having time to shape them by cutting a piece of baking parchment for each tuile. I could then whisk them off the hot tray one at a time, and they were much easier to handle this way.
The cream was a doddle to throw together:
150g white chocolate, melted
200g cream cheese
100ml double cream
Cream together the cheese and double cream, then stir in the melted chocolate. Chill for a few hours before piping.
And the coulis couldn't have been any easier:
200g strawberries, hulled and quartered
2 tablespoons icing sugar
1 tablespoon water
Combine the ingredients in a pan and bring to a simmer, then tip into a blender and whiz! Chill before using.
I ended up enjoying myself way more than I'd expected with this challenge. Tuiles are strangely addictive to make, and happily I have a bowl of batter in the fridge for me to experiment with whenever I get a few spare minutes. Go, I dare you!
6 hours ago