tuiles1This month’s challenge is brought to us by Karen of Baking Soda  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.

As explained by our hosts, traditionally, tuiles are thin, crisp almond cookies that are gently moulded over a rolling pin or arched form while they are still warm. Once set, their shape resembles the curved French roofing tiles for which they are named.

I was excited by the challenge, being my first with Daring Bakers.  These little tuiles are the perfect accompaniment to sherbet, ice cream and fruit desserts.  I elected to shape my tuiles over the back of a muffin tin to form little cups, and found that was the perfect shape for the strawberry sorbet I wanted to fill them with.  (Strawberries are certainly featuring strongly this month!)

{ Tuiles }

tuiles21Following is a recipe taken from a book called “The Chocolate Book”, written by female Dutch Master chef Angélique Schmeinck.

Yields: 20. Preparation time batter 10 minutes, waiting time 30 minutes, baking time: 5-10 minutes per batch

* Ingredients *

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
Butter/spray to grease baking sheet

* Directions *

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. 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 over mix.  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. Use an off set spatula to spread batter on the baking sheet. Leave some room in between your shapes.

Bake in a preheated oven (180C/350F) for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Immediately release from baking sheet and proceed to shape/bend the cookies in the desired shape. These cookies have to be shaped when still warm, you might want to bake a small amount at a time or maybe put them in the oven to warm them up again. Or place a baking sheet toward the front of the warm oven, leaving the door half open. The warmth will keep the cookies malleable.

{ Strawberry Sorbet }

I selected a Philippe Rochat recipe for my Strawberry Sorbet.  With strawberries in season there was really no other fruit choice to pair with my tuiles.  Philippe Rochat is famous for his sorbet, and the emphasis on this recipe is high quality, sweet strawberries.  The strawberries provide the beautifully sweet taste, not mountains of sugar.

* Ingredients *

1kg/2lbs strawberries
100gr/3oz sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
An ice cream machine

* Directions *

Wash the strawberries and individually stem them.  Pass the strawberries through a food mill until you get strawberry puree.  Add the sugar and lemon juice and mix so that the sugar dissolves in the purée.  Chill mixture overnight.  Pour the mixture into an ice cream machine (I used my KitchenAid with attachment) and follow the instructions for making sorbet.

mornington-3I was recently reminded of my love for strawberries when I made Pavlova a few days ago.  I am blessed to live in a climate that is favourable to the harvest of many fruits and vegetables.  Growing up there were many farms close by, in particular strawberry farms.  I was heralded back to my strawberry youth during a recent visit to Mornington Peninsula in Victoria.  Sunnyridge strawberry farm, is one of a handful “pick-your-own-strawberries” farms in the area.  I picked some beautifully fragrant and sweet berries, and was able to reminisce my childhood for a short time. 

mornington-11Strawberries are one of my favourite fruits, and when I taste them this fresh and untainted, I want to eat them all day every day.  They are so versatile in baking.  Top a Pavlova, sandwich between a sponge, use as a cheesecake filling, serve with shortcakes, use as a garnish to a chocolate tart, feature in an elegant fruit tart, as a filling of a humble pie, or as the flavour of focus in a sorbet. 

Whichever way, strawberries are a beautiful hint of summer.  If you are in the Victoria area, treat yourself to how strawberries should taste.

pavlovaAustralia Day is just around the corner.  I always enjoy celebrating a holiday with baking, so for this holiday nothing would be more appropriate than to whip up some national goodies.  Unfortunately, there are only a small handful of baked treats that Australia can claim (and some really are ‘owned’ by our friendly neighbours to the east).  Nonetheless, when I think of Australia, I think of:

1. Pavlova
2. Lamingtons
3. Pumpkin Scones

These will adorn any of my national holiday celebrations.

{ Pavlova }

It is said that the Pavlova was invented to commemorate visiting Russian Ballerina, Anna Pavlova, to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s.

While Australia often lays claim to this marshmallow-ey light dessert, recipes for Pavlova can be found in New Zealand a few years ahead of Australia.  Whichever way, this light meringue base, topped with fresh tropical fruit and cream, is a wonderful dessert and perfect end to any meal – in particular, an Australia Day BBQ! 

{ Pavlova ‘how to’ }

The key to the right consistency of the Pavlova meringue is vinegar and cornflour.  This ensures that the outside is lovely and crisp, while the centre has a creamy marshmallow texture.  The meringue base is made by beating egg whites to firm, stiff peaks then adding sugar very gradually to create a glossy texture.  Vinegar and cornflour is then added as the final step.  The mixture is piled high and baked in a slow oven. 

* Ingredients *

4 egg whites, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons corn flour
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

* Directions *

Preheat oven to 150 C (300 F).  Line a baking tray with parchment paper.  Trace out a circle around 20cm (8 inches) in diameter.  Turn the paper over so the pencil mark is on the underside.  Set aside.

Whip the egg whites together with cream of tartar and salt until foamy.  Gradually add the sugar and whip until mixture reaches stiff peaks.  Then add the cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla and continue whipping until smooth and glossy.  This should take about 10 minutes in total.

Mound the meringue into the centre of the prepared circle.  Using a silicon spatula, smooth out the mixture to fill the circle.  Leave a slight dent in the centre so the cream and fruit can be piled up.

Bake for around 1 hour 30 to 1 hour 40 minutes. Turn off oven and leave the meringue to cool.  You can leave overnight.

When ready to serve the Pavlova, top with whipped cream and fresh fruit as desired.  Enjoy!

{ A few tips … }

1. Whenever working with egg whites, ensure all your equipment is completely spotless – bowls, beaters, silicon scrapers etc.  Any fat or yolk trace will inhibit the egg whites reaching full volume and impact the outcome of the recipe – trust me, I have been there before!
2. Pavlova is traditionally served as a single serving.  This is perfect to end an informal meal. However, consider creating smaller, individual sized portions are ideal to finish a more elegant dinner party.  Or you can create multiple layers of Pavlova and fill each layer with fruit and cream to make a multi-layer cake.
3. Also consider flavours other than the traditional vanilla for your Pavlova.  For example, add cocoa to the finished meringue for a chocolate Pavlova.  You do not have to limit your toppings to cream and fresh fruit.  Play around with flavours such as chocolate and caramel as well as crushed nuts for a totally different dessert experience.