Watching Italian Pastry Chef Fortunato Conte at work is to see how fine desserts are made in the exclusive pastry kitchens of Italy. Preparing gourmet desserts and specialties like a tuile is an art, one that he practices in the Boston area for Il Casale and Dante.
Tuiles are one of Fortunato's favorite dessert garnishes. It is pronounced "tweel" and is a very lightweight and crisp cookie from France. These cookies come in a vast array of shapes, sizes, and flavors, but every style tends to be incredibly versatile, and they can be used for everything from ice cream garnishes to crusts for tiny, delicate tarts. Learning how to make tuiles is very easy and fun, and because these cookies are so versatile, you can alter and adjust a tuile recipe to suit your own tastes.
After baking it is placed over a rounded object (like a rolling pin or wine bottle) while still hot from the oven. Once it becomes cool and stiff, it resembles a curved roof tile that is used extensively in some parts of France, from where it got its' name, which means "tile" in French.
Basic tuiles are very simple, made with flour, eggs, butter, and sugar. The classic tuile as Fortunato shows us here is made with crushed almonds, but the cookie is also flavored with orange, lemon, vanilla or other nuts.
The batter is usually spread out into thin molds or templates, which you can buy online or at fine culinary stores. You can also spread the dough in very thin sheets on parchment paper and cut into the shape you want before baking. Tuiles are often made into cylinders which can then be filled with a variety of substances.
French Honey Tuile Cookie
1/2 cup butter, room temperature