If you're busting with sweet curiosity like I am, you're probably looking at the photo above and thinking: "what exactly are those thingies?".
Those lumpy little things are in fact a rather exquisite and refined cookie known as the Tuile.
Now, to say "Tuile", I have a cue to indicate how you should pronounce it. It rhymes with "wheel"; now, say it in your Frenchiest voice.
I googled "translation of tuile" and the resulting word was "tile". Perhaps this refers to the gentle shingle-like appearance the almond bits give the cookies? Whatever the meaning, these tiles are tastier than your typical siding or bit of caulked home decor.
The recipe was adapted by Alice Medrich (who you may recall I interviewed a while back) who adapted a recipe from The Essential James Beard Cookbook: 450 Recipes That Shaped the Tradition of American Cooking, with olive oil incorporated (you know how I love olive oil and sweets!). Here's what she has to say about it:
Crispy crunchy and elegantly thin, these almond cookies were adapted from a recipe by James Beard, using California Olive Ranch Arbequina olive oil instead of butter, and with the addition of a bit of lemon zest and extra salt for a contemporary balance of flavors. Classic tuiles are cooled over a rolling pin to resemble the roof tiles they are named for, but you can skip that step and make them flat if you like, or use my shortcut for making curved tuiles.
Anyhow. As a tuile newbie, I found this recipe decidedly user-friendly. The olive oil makes them seem fancy, so if you have foodie people to impress this holiday season, definitely bring these cookies on. Gently sweet, they'd be just as at-home on a cheese plate as they would paired with ice cream. Now that's versatile.
The recipe below has my notes in BOLD.
Almond Tuiles with Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Makes about thirty 3- inch cookies I got 24 but mine were more like 3.5 inches
- 5 tablespoons (60 g) California Olive Ranch Arbequina extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan
- 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
- Scant ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 large egg whites
- 1/4 (30 g) sifted* (before measuring) unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 cup (90 g) sliced almonds
*if you measure with a scale, there is no need to sift flour before measuring
- Baking sheets
- Heavy-duty foil (optional)
- A rolling pin or cylinder for shaping ( optional)
- Grease baking sheets with olive oil, or line them with foil, dull side facing up, and grease the foil.
- Mix the olive oil, sugar, grated zest, salt, and eggs whites together thoroughly (I used a whisk). Add the flour and stir until well blended. Stir in the almonds. Let the batter rest for while the oven heats or for at least 15 minutes.
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Drop teaspoons of batter 2 inches apart on a baking sheet. Use the back of the spoon to smear the batter into a 2 ½ inch round. Bake, watching carefully, for 12-16 minutes, until the tuiles are deep golden brown at the edges and paler golden brown in the center. (If the cookies are not baked long enough, they will not be completely crisp when cool.) I was able to fit 8 cookies per sheet.
- As soon as you can push a slim metal spatula under the cookies without destroying them, transfer each cookie to a rolling pin (for curved cookies) or a cooling rack. If using foil, you can simply slide the foil sheet onto a rack to cool flat, or (for curved) tuiles, grasp the edges of the foil when the sheet comes from the oven (without touching the hot pan or the cookies) and roll it into a fat cylinder, gently curving the attached cookies like potato chips (I think: cannoli shells!). Crimp or secure the foil with a paper clip. When cool, unroll the foil carefully and remove the tuiles. Flat or curved, tuiles are always easiest to remove from the foil when they are either very hot or completely cool. Do not let them cool too much or they will crack when shaped. I found that it was easiest to bake one sheet at a time for this reason. I used a piece of foil around the round dowel-y part of several wooden spoons to curve them - I found that the curve around a rolling pin was awkward and they tended to break when cooled because they didn’t stack as well as the more curved, cannoli-shell esque ones.
- Repeat until all of the tuiles are baked. To retain crispness, put the cookies in an airtight container as soon as they are cool. May be stored airtight for at least 1 month.