Thursday, January 29, 2009

Chinese New Year and the Sacred Heart

Simplicity and creativity are two of my favorite things. This month's Daring Bakers' Challenge allowed me to indulge in both. The ingredients were simple, they came together simply and I could configure them in a myriad of shapes and sizes. I only scratched the surface of this recipe's potential in my initial baking adventure with Tuiles.

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 Angelique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles by Michel Roux.

This past Monday marked the beginning of the Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year celebrations are 15 days of traditions, revelling and dreaming of the prospects of the new year to come. It seemed fitting to make something in honor of the holiday. Tuile 'Fortune Cookies,' then, were a no-brainer.

2009 is the Year of the Ox according to the Chinese Zodiac calendar. People born in this year are purportedly stubborn, rather explosive when they don't get their way. They have fierce tempers that are only revealed when their buttons are pushed. Otherwise, they make good leaders and are dexterous with their hands. They possess an impeccable memory, so don't say anything to an ox you don't want them to remember 10 years from now! They are dogmatic, arguing their position from an extremely black-and-white standpoint. There is no room for grey in their world. They are also strong and persevering at a task placed before them.

I've always been fascinated by the animals of the zodiac calendar and their character traits. A poster of our zodiac animal was purchased for each of us children from a shop in Chinatown in San Francisco shortly after we were born. I still have mine hanging in my room. Every once in a while I like to read the short blurb on the bottom of the poster to assess whether I have lived up to my projected reputation.

1/4 c. softened butter
1/2 c. powdered sugar
dash of vanilla extract
2 egg whites
1/2 c. all-purpose flour

The dough for this recipe came together in about 5 minutes. The softened butter is mixed with the powdered sugar and a dash of vanilla extract. Then, whisk in the egg whites and slowly add the flour, whisking until the dough is smooth. You must chill the dough for about 30 minutes before attempting to spread it on the baking sheet. If it is not cold enough when you go to spread it, it tends to thin out too much and the butter melts in the oven, spreading out your design.

My first speed bump occurred when I placed the tuiles in the oven to bake. They were finished in about half the time estimated. I placed them in the oven, set the timer for 5 minutes (the shortest time stated on the recipe), and left the room to go check my email. When I wandered back into the kitchen about 4 minutes later, I could smell them burning. Oops. Plopped those into the garbage can and tried again. I had to grab another cookie sheet because it is impossible to spread the dough out when it is warm. Also, it is extremely important to keep your cookie sheet well-greased, otherwise they have a tendency to stick to the pan. Grease the pan each time it comes out or at least every other time if you have a dependable non-stick baking sheet.

I simply spread the dough for my fortune cookies with a spatula in a circular shape. I cooked two at a time because they cool very quickly and crack apart if you attempt to shape them once they have cooled down. It went quickly, alternating between baking sheets.

After removing the tuiles from the pan, I hid a handmade fortune (actually, I inscribed the little scraps of paper with some of my favorite quotes) inside each one, bringing the sides together and then folding the corners down. I placed them inside the cups of a cupcake pan so they would retain their shape as they cooled.

My second batch of tuiles I colored with a few drops of red food coloring. For some time now, I have wanted to make cookies in the shape of the Sacred Heart. I cut out a stencil from a piece of paper and spread my dough onto the sheet through the stencil. A few spread out a bit too much in the oven, so I did a quick rechilling of the dough in the freezer. It helped solve the problem.

Christ's Love is simple, like this cookie, but so rich in mercy that it needed something comparable supporting it. I whipped up a Chocolate Mousse with Grand Marnier, adorning each cup with my Sacred Heart Tuile.

My Mousse du Sacre Coeur....


jillian said...

I like your fortune cookie tuiles and your sacred heart analogy!

Dragon said...

I love, love your pink heart tuile! Great job on this month's challenge.

TeaLady said...

You were 'fortunate' with yours. Nicely done.

Candice said...

Fortune cookies, I love that idea!

Jenny said...

Love what you've done, happy new year. :)

Rye-Rye said...

I love the manifestation of your Daring Baker's challenge, not only was it delicious, but it certainly served as an excellent metaphor (but then again I suppose that was the point ;-p).

Lisa Lou said...

I wondered if you could make tuiles into fortune cookies. Dang, I had my Chinese New Years party Fri. night. Now I know it can be done. Way to go!!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Cool idea to make them into fortune cookies, but I also love the hearts!

Diana said...

I totally hear you about it being impossible to spread the dough on a hot pan. I rotated 3 different pans and kept forgetting which was cool and burning myself! You did a great job on the challenge.

MaryMary said...

Fortune cookies--what a fabulous, genius idea! And the hearts are way sassy!

Vera said...

Lovely tuiles!