Crispity! Crunchity! Didn’t quite workity!

After two months of extremely rich desserts, January’s hosts opted for something a bit lighter. Tuile cookies are airy, crispy little guys that are meant to be shaped and molded into something cute or elegant.

I say “meant to be,” because the reality of mine weren’t quite that way. They tasted good, but the first batch wasn’t the least bit malleable. I’d intended to form the circled into little bowls, in which I’d serve Lemon-Buttermilk Sherbet with raspberry sauce. Instead, I tucked the little disks in beside the sherbet and tried again.

I’d seen on the DBK message boards that at least one Daring Baker had made a kind of cannoli with their tuiles, so I thought I’d give that a shot, using (at my dad’s request) some cream cheese frosting. The cookies were willing to bend the second time around — I took them out of the oven a minute earlier than the first batch — but I couldn’t quite get them to, well, cannoli. The end result was more of a taco shell than a pastry. That might not sound delightful. But my friends? There are few things more delicious than a frosting taco.

Tuile Cookies
1/4 cup softened butter — not melted
1/2 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
A dash of vanilla extract
2 large egg whites, slightly whisked with a fork
1/4 cup sifted all purpose flour
1 tablespoon cocoa powder or food coloring of choice
Butter/spray to grease baking sheet

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

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 overmix.

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 if using a stencil/cardboard template such as the butterfly. Press the stencil on the bakingsheet and use an off sided spatula to spread batter. Leave some room in between your shapes. Mix a small part of the batter with the cocoa and a few drops of warm water until evenly colored. Use this colored batter in a paper piping bag and proceed to pipe decorations on the wings and body of the butterfly.

Bake butterflies in a preheated oven for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Immediately release from bakingsheet 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. (Haven’t tried that). Or place a bakingsheet toward the front of the warm oven, leaving the door half open. The warmth will keep the cookies malleable.

If you don’t want to do stencil shapes, you might want to transfer the batter into a piping bag fitted with a small plain tip. Pipe the desired shapes and bake. Shape immediately after baking

This 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.

"Times is fairly good here."

A few years ago, my mom gave me a shoebox full of old papers that her grandfather had saved. Some of them were yellowed receipts and such, but there were also quite a few letters from various family members. I scanned and transcribed them when Mom gave me the box, and then I didn’t do anything else with them other than think, “There could be a book here.”

Maybe some day I’ll get started on that. Until then, though, I’ll share the letters here. This one — to my great-great-grandfather from his brother — is the oldest.

January the 19: 1914

Dear Brother,

It is with much pleasure that I [illegible] a few lions to let you know that we are all well at this time. Hoping these few lions will go safe to your hands safe an find you all well. Well Tom I have been thinked I would [illegible] been putting it off you musent think hard of me. Well Tom I have been wanting to come over there for some time an have had no chance. I cant leave Eller an the children by their self an there is no one to stay with them. The old lady is gone back to the county home. Well Tom you must come over an see us. Eller and all the children has had a chance for measels. Their time to take them is next Sunday an I would bee glad if you would come an stay with me a few days. I will have no one to stay with me for every body has got the measels around here. Well I hope you had a good Cristmas an enjoyed your self. I had a mighty good time through Cristmas. We rabbit hunted some. They was one day that we killed 11 rabbits. We killed in all 25 an 3 patteridges.
I would like to see you all but I don’t know when I can get to come now. It will bee some time before we will get through with measels. Tell all of the folks howdy for my. Tell Jasper that all I no to [illegible] He hah just [lyed?].

Well Tom times is fairly good here. I want you to come if you posible can. I will be lonesom here by my self when Eller an the children gets down. You come an we will eat fresh meat till we cant see. I just killed on of my hogs to day that I had when you was here. It mad a good one to. You let me no whether you can come an stay a few days or not by return mail an if you can I will rite you when thay take them. So I will close by saying rite soon.

From your brother George McCall to T.R. McCall