palets de dames, lille style: a tuesdays with dorie post

Can you believe that it has been more than two years since we began working our way through Baking With Julia?  Twice a month we prepare a recipe from the book and it has been a lot of fun to try all the different techniques.  When the Tuesdays With Dorie gals announced that we would also be baking from Dorie’s new book, Baking Chez Moi, I did not hesitate to order a copy of the book.
For our first recipe, we chose palets de dames, lille style.  To see the recipe, I always encourage folks to support the author by purchasing a copy or borrowing the book from a library, but the recipe has been available on the amazon.com page for the book.
Let me first say that not only do I love the simple but elegant look of the cookies, I really love the fact that the recipe is an easy one!  The directions were easy to follow and the results were exactly as described.  While it may not seem like much to rave about, I am baking in a new kitchen with an electric range and it is almost like learning all over again.  

 Follow Dorie’s advice and use a scoop to portion the cookies.  Trust me, not only will it be much quicker and less messy than rolling the dough into little balls but the cookies will be much more consistent in size.  That little hint will keep you from having overbaked and underbaked cookies on the same tray.

To dip the cookies in white glaze was too easy, almost boring if you ask me.  So just to make them a little more colorful, I tinted the glaze with a bit of purple hoping for a nice lavender shade.  Let me just say that no matter how hard you try, it almost always ends up looking a little too much like grey. To prevent that from happening, I also added a tiny amount of red to the mix.   A little sprinkle of clear sugar crystals on top gives them a bit of sparkle too!

If you add sugar crystals, let the glaze set a bit until it is just a little tacky.  If you put it on immediately, it sinks in and doesn’t sparkle.  To see what I mean, compare the cookies at the top of the photo to the ones on the bottom.

So, this is all fine and dandy but the true test is tasting them.  Drum roll…Yeah, well, not my favorite cookie.  Hard to say but I really wanted these cookies to be incredibly good but all I tasted was sweet.  The texture is nice, almost cakey but to be honest, I just do not see how a 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla could have added any flavor to the dough.  Usually, I tend to change or add flavors but this time, I followed the recipe exactly as written.  If I make these again, and I probably will because they are great for gift giving, I would pump up the flavor to a teaspoon of vanilla or even rosewater or add some freshly grated lemon zest.

The only part of the recipe that did not work out for me was the glaze.  The 1 1/2 tablespoon of milk called for was something I did not have so I subbed half and half.  The glaze required more like 2 tablespoons and even so, I still had about a dozen cookies without glaze.  Since the cookies reminded me of a childhood favorite, New York Black and Whites, I decided to mix up white and chocolate glazes to finish the batch; a perfect solution to my dilemma!

Not sure what a black and white is?  You can read about the history of them in this article by Robert Sietsema.  To make a batch of your own, use the palet de dames cookie recipe and mix up some chocolate and vanilla glazes or try this recipe from the New York Times.

In the meantime, be sure to visit the Tuesdays with Dorie page to see what the other bakers came up with!

puff pastry pizzettes; a tuesdays with dorie post

How can you not love a recipe that isn’t actually a recipe?  These little pastries were simply a quickly thrown together snack to use up homemade puff pastry scraps; it is a crime to waste something that you put so much effort into preparing.  That said, I am afraid I just did not care for them.

The recipe is from Baking with Julia and was contributed by Michel Richard and it truly does call for the use of scraps from previously prepared puff pastry recipes.  The recipe, which really isn’t much more than a guidline, instructs you to place cherry tomatoes halves onto two inch rounds of dough and to top it with a little goat cheese before popping it into the oven to bake.  Honestly, as soon as I saw cherry tomatoes and goat cheese, I knew I was in trouble!

Sad but true fact, this Italian girl only likes cooked tomatoes if they are in the form of tomato sauce, otherwise, I avoid it like the plague.  Yes, I am that person who will pick the tomato chunks out of soup, don’t get me started on goat cheese, I have never been able to eat it!   However, in the spirit of following the “recipe” as it is written, I topped my little squares with a rosette of goat milk cream cheese from Trader Joe’s. If you shop there, they sell it with the cream cheese and it tastes just like regular cream cheese, at least pretty close to it.  With the cherry tomato halves in place, into the oven they went.

But that was just too simple.  Out of curiosity, I cut up some curried roasted vegetables and made a few squares.  Brussels sprout halves and thick slabs of kabocha squash were pressed into the cheese and baked along side of the tomato bites.  All in all, about 15 minutes of work for a few quick bites to give my husband a treat-he works so many hours that I really have become a kitchen widow.

Well, all is not lost, I have a lot more puff pastry dough in the freezer which means I will have scraps to work with again at some point and next time, I’m going with chocolate, or caramel, or maybe chocolate and caramel…

What I had to do to get that shot.  Yes, on the landing in the middle of the stairs but look at that window!  It let’s in the most amazing morning light and none of it was direct.  It is taking time to figure it all out but I have a feeling that I will be spending a lot of time on the stairs with my camera and a plate of food!

To see what the other bakers came up with, be sure to visit the Tuesdays with Dorie website and if you have a copy of the book, Baking with Julia, bake along with us as we bake our way through the book.  If that isn’t enough for you, we will also be baking from Dorie Greenspans new book, Baking Chez Moi starting in November.