Tinkering with Tuile, and my stint on American Idol.

It seemed like a dream. There I stood , sweaty palms, knees barely supporting my trembling body, and heart about to jump out of my chest, when I heard my name being called.

“Marysol, will you come with me please?”

I took a deep breath and with all the courage I could muster, I proceeded to walk down a long, narrow corridor, escorted by a polite and rather antsy-pantsy gentleman, tightly holding a clipboard with both hands positioned at three and nine.

He led me right into a large, dark and deathly quiet stage. If not for my uncontrollably knocking knees, I would’ve ran home screaming like the mama‘s girl that I am.
“Snap out of it” I thought. “I didn’t camp out overnight in a smelly sleeping bag for a chance at fame and fortune just to throw it all away for fear of being booed off stage by Simon Cowell.

He’s only one of three judges; just a guy with an attitude and a bad haircut. ‘Surely I can handle him.” I said, trying to convince myself.

Finally, there I was, on stage, facing three very unimpressed, uninterested judges. Incidentally, The song I was about to perform, Paul McCartney's "My Love.”

I took a deep breath while repeating to myself: I can get through this. Gulp. I sang my song, eagerly racing for the finish line…

Only my love holds the other key to me
Oh....my love oh...my love
Only my love does it good to me-eeee...

Simon: “ Marysol!”

Me: "Listen here Cowell, would it kill you to let me finish the last two words to this song?!"
I didn’t actually say that. But I thought it.

…only my love, does it goooooood to-o-o-o-o-o-o-oooo meeeeeeee…

Simon: “You awake?”

Me: “Simon, you bastard!”
I didn’t actually say that. But I thought it.

Next thing I notice was my husband’s face hovering over me.

“Hon, wake up. It’s your turn to drive our son to school. “

So, herein lies my dream. Shattered into a million pieces, much like my first attempt at shaping Tuiles.

“Simon, you suck!”
I actually said that.

Speaking of Tuiles, here’s a versatile French cookie that is often used to garnish desserts, but can also be fashioned in all different shapes while it is warm. Here I’ll share a few ways to have fun with this classic cookie.

Tuile Cookies

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup confectioner’s sugar
½ tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Whites of 3 eggs
1 scant cup AP flour

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Whisk the flour, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a bowl. In another bowl, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla. Whisk in the egg whites. Then, fold in the flour mixture to create a smooth batter. Chill for at least 1 hour. Drop small spoonfuls of batter, about 4” apart onto a nonstick baking sheet, or a baking sheet sprayed with Baker’s Joy or the old, but very reliable cake decorator’s concoction, Pan Coating (equal parts flour, shortening and a few drops of a neutral oil, such as Canola, to make a spreadable mixture).

Bake for about 4 minutes or until the cookies start to take on color. Keep an eye on them as they’ll brown very quickly. Remove from the oven and quickly drape them over a rolling pin, a clean bottle. Or, if like me, you want just a slight curve, use a rolled up poster board (as pictured) covered in wax or parchment paper.

You could also gently press them inside a small round bowl and leave to cool completely.

If you want to make flower petals for a cake like the daisy cake, or butterfly wings (below), use tuile stencils or make your own out of thin cardboard, cutting out your design with an x-acto knife.

Use an offset spatula to thinly spread the tuile mixture over the stencil. Carefully lift off cardboard.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you could also add a chocolate edging to your cookies, before baking, by mixing some of the tuile mixture with a little (sifted) cocoa powder, and bake as above.


Oh, Chocolate Goddess, I Bow to Thee...

Have you ever had one of those days, where everything went wrong? Well, I had one of those days, all week. And nothing you or your loved ones do in an attempt to lift your spirits is ever successful.

Nothing that is, except for (as if you didn't know where I was going with this) CHOCOLATE!

I know I'm screaming it. And I know it's rude. And maybe I need to go back to Kidney garden -as my young son would say- for a refresher course in courteous, respectful behavior. But I can't do that. I'm too old for Kidney garden, not to mention, with my hips, those tiny desks can be a bitch!

So, instead of feeling sorry for myself, I felt my way to the back of my pantry, the Magical Pantry of W.o.n.d.e.r.s., where I keep my stash of chocolate hidden. Incidentally, another good hiding place is an empty box of fabric softener in the laundry room. Don't worry. My kids are about as interested in the laundry room as they are about this blog. My secret is safe with you ... two, my viewing audience.

I digress. I decided nothing could jump start my weary brain faster than baking something, anything, with chocolate. And you know what? I made two, count them, two dreamy chocolate treats.

The first one is a simple and quick Pots de Crème. Use your favorite bittersweet chocolate for this, and call me on your way to Heaven.

Chocolate Pots de Crème

1½ cups heavy whipping cream
½ cup whole milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, split
6 egg yolks
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
½ cup very strong prepared espresso coffee

Eight 4 to 5 ounce pot the crème cups or ramekins

Bring the cream and sugar to a boil with the vanilla bean in a saucepan.
Whisk yolks in a bowl. Whisk about a third of the boiling cream into the yolks. Return remaining cream to a boil and whisk in yolk mixture. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, for 15 or 20 seconds, until slightly thickened.
Strain cream into a bowl and add chopped chocolate. Whisk in espresso and pour into molds.

Refrigerate until cooled. For advance preparation, cover the pots de crème with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Uncover and leave at room temperature for about an hour before serving. This recipe was adapted from one found in Nick Malgieri's book "Chocolate."

This next recipe for Peppermint Patties is a bit more involved than the previous one, but not at all difficult. Have your kids help shape the candies. Their efforts may yield candies resembling the state of Kentucky, but so what, they'll love it.

Peppermint Patties

2½ cups sugar
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup milk
2 tablespoons of butter
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ teaspoon peppermint oil
6 drops green food coloring, optional
2 cups semisweet chocolate, melted

Stir together the sugar, cream, milk, butter and cream of tartar in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, without stirring; reduce heat to medium. Attach a candy thermometer to inside edge of pot and cook without stirring, until mixture registers 235° (soft-ball stage), about 12-14 minutes.

Pour sugar mixture onto a marble slab. Using two spatulas or bench scrapers, scrape mixture back and forth until it starts to turn into a thick, opaque mass, 3-4 minutes. Once it's cooled enough to handle, knead in the peppermint oil and food coloring, if using, and knead until smooth.
Shape fondant into 36, 1½" wide disks, each about 1/3" thick. Keep the rest of the fondant covered while you work to keep from drying out. Freeze candy centers for 1 hour.

Working with one disk at a time, dip them into melted chocolate using a dipping fork; allow excess chocolate to drip off. Transfer candies to parchment-paper lined sheet pan until set. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge, for several weeks. Bring to room temperature 10-15 minutes before serving, although, I prefer these chocolatey / minty delights cold.