My boyfriend and I are having an Italian themed dinner party for my last weekend in Texas. Immediately I though, “I can make cannoli!” Then I read a bit about how they’re made. The filling looks incredibly easy, mix some ricotta, maybe a little mascarpone, add a bit of sugar and vanilla, et voila! I even considered making it harder by curdling my own ricotta. Perhaps another time. And then I read how to make the shell…lots of mixing, rolling, and DEEP FRYING?!? I had no idea! It sounded like too much work for an afternoon with many other preparations… nor would my boyfriend like the idea of a vat of hot oil smoking up his loft (as our steaks and burgers do on the stove-top grill pan). So I am substituting almond tuiles (baked, not fried), and I’m sure it will be a lovely combination (readers with Italian heritage, please don’t shoot me!).
First batch of tuiles are in the oven (2nd sheet of them, as I write) and I’m already running into trouble. I tried making these once before, but did not have almond meal at the time, so I substituted with an equal portion of flour. The batter was too thick and hard to spread. Next time, I told myself, I would make it thiner and add the almonds! Perhaps not quite as I had planned. First the food processor won’t chop the almonds up finely enough. And I guess I forgot how thick the batter was last time, and made it just as thick this time. Oh, and I only had one egg left, so I just used that instead of two whites.
…Quick break to take sheet 2 out of the oven!…
First of all, the batter is immensely tasty. I probably ate a third of it as spoon-fulls of batter bypassed the oven and went straight to my tummy. So buttery and creamy with little chewy chunks of almond tickle my tongue. YUM!
I can’t quite say the same for the baking. Instead of remaining smooth and flat on the baking sheet, these tuiles puffed up, leaving little pot-marks of almond chunks behind. And they stuck to the parchment paper (excuse me! what sticks to parchment paper?!?). So after wrestling the tuiles with my spatula (which needed frequent cleaning as little bits of undercooked tuile stuck to the edge…also tasty cooked!), I managed to break one (one needed to be sacrificed to the taste testing gods anyway), and form three cannoli tubes. The tubes were a bit bigger than I wanted, and I was quickly running out of batter (I wonder why?), so I began making small disks, figuring I could at least be creative with the tuile. Some I simply folded over serving spoon handles, others I turned into little dishes on the spherical handle of our little rolling pin. In any case I have a nice array about about 20 vehicles for the yummy cheese filling I’ll be making tomorrow. I think I’m buy some chocolate chips for decorations.
Batch 2 will be made this afternoon. I plan to use the two whites. I’m also going to swap the potions of almond and flour, and try to make sure my almond is very fine. And in adding the flour, I’ll save a few tablespoons to add in later as I adjust the consistency.
Almond Tuile: Recipe #1:
Modified from Food and Paper.
Without snacking, recipe might make 10-15 cannoli, or 20-30 disks to shape over any rounded surface you can find. Be creative.
1/2 c. almonds meal (or blanched almonds processed in your own food processor)
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 t. salt
1 egg (I was supposed to use 2 egg whites)
5 T. melted butter
1/4 t. almond extract
…I should mention I was actually a little sloppy in my measuring. After the first sheet came out of the oven and I realized I would be running out of batter, I added an extra 2T of melted butter in hopes to stretch my batter a little further.
Preheat oven to 325. Whisk together the almond, flour, sugar, and salt. Beat in the egg (or whites), butter, and almond extract until smooth. Drop a rounded teaspoon size onto parchment paper and spread out with the back of the spoon to make a 4in diameter circle. For the small disks, I used one teaspoon of batter, even, and let the heat of the oven (and the hot pan I didn’t cool between bakings) spread out the batter. Bake 8-10 minutes. I didn’t use a timer because my boyfriend was taking a nap, and I didn’t want to wake him. Instead I carefully watched the tuiles and took them out when the edges started to brown.
Immediately after removing from the oven, form over desired kitchen object and leave to cool for about 1 minute. If the tuile gets too hard, pop it back in the oven for about 30 seconds to soften. Let formed tuile cool completely and store in an airtight container.