My favorite finishing touch to any dish is a tuile. Small, elegant, and simple—even its name makes it sound delicate. Tuiles are garnishes that are malleable when directly removed from the oven and crisp up as they cool down. I love them because they complement both savory and sweet dishes and can add a nice alternative texture to creamy dishes. Read on to learn how to transform this warm, workable dough into a variety of crispy, light accents.
The key to any of these methods is to work quite quickly. If you let the tuile sit for more than thirty seconds after removing it from the oven, it'll crisp up and become impossible to shape. It's also important to spread an even layer of batter on either a generously greased or parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
For today's tutorial, I will use one recipe—a simple, sweet dessert tuile—to demonstrate some different shaping possibilities.
- 2 cups cake flour (all-purpose flour is fine as long as you sift it)
- ½ cup icing sugar
- 3 egg whites
- Melted butter, cooled to room temperature
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- A pinch of fine salt
- Heat the oven to 350°F.
- Whisk egg whites, sugar, and butter in one bowl. In another bowl, sift together cake flour, cinnamon, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the egg mix in two batches, whisking after each addition until batter is smooth.
Spread batter into very thin strips on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 5 minutes (until edges are golden brown), then remove and immediately pick up with spatula. Wrap the each strip around a knife steel, the end of a wooden spoon, or anything of similar thin, cylindrical circumference. Allow to cool and slide off the end to form a delicate corkscrew.
Spread batter into rectangles on parchment paper. See above for baking instructions.
Remove from oven and, beginning with shorter side of the wafer, quickly wrap around knife steel (or similarly shaped utensil) until shaped into a cylinder. Slide off the end after tuile has cooled and crisped.
When to use corkscrew or cigar: turn a simple scoop of ice cream into a conversation piece with these zany toppers! (Tuiles will get soft when paired with moist foods, however, so be sure not to assemble your creations until just before you serve them.)
Spread batter into larger disk on parchment paper. See above for baking instructions. When immediately removed from oven, take a cookie cutter (in any shape you want) and make shapes. After a minute or so, you will have crisp, wafer-like shapes, like these ones from I Shot the Chef.
When to use cut-out accent: tuck a heart cutout onto an open-faced strawberry shortcake for a romantic dessert for two!
Using a tablespoon, spread batter into disks on parchment paper. See above for baking instructions. Remove tuile from oven and immediately drape over an inverted shot glass, molding into cup shape. Leave upside down for several minutes, until cup crisps and solidifies.
When to use cup: Pipe a simple chocolate mousse into each cup. Very minimal cleanup as people will have eaten their edible dessert bowls!
The easiest way to practice shaping tuiles is by using Parmesan cheese. Instead of making the aforementioned batter, simply finely grate about 1½ cups of Parmesan, and sprinkle an even layer onto your parchment paper instead of spreading the batter.