filling the empty nest with food
My sweet tooth got the better of me, and I skipped already from the foundational sauces straight to the back of the book, to the desserts. (I’ll be back to the sauces, but I needed a break from all the bones and meat in my kitchen.)
I am a cookie baker at heart, but, sadly, cookies aren’t all that important in classic French cuisine. There seems to be only one cookie recipe in Escoffier’s Le Guide. And it’s a recipe for simple dough you can cut into shapes for tea-time or to accompany other desserts. They’re more of a less important sideline to the main event, rather than something you make for its own sake.
Although Escoffier understands us Americans and our greedy sweet tooths (teeth?). In his introduction to the dessert section, he advocates for what seems a thoroughly modern multicultural sensitivity in the dessert arena: “Only exceptionally must you serve to Americans or to the English such light desserts as we serve in France; they always prefer the substantial desserts to which they’re accustomed.” Is he being sensitive, or is there a little tongue-in-cheek dig at our unrefined Anglo/American propensity to stuff ourselves at the end of a meal? I have a guess, but, either way, Escoffier knows on which side his bread is buttered and who is paying the restaurant bills.
However, that doesn’t mean his cookie recipe is not delicious! Fortunately, even the peripheral foods in Escoffier will make your mouth water.
The cookies are simple to make, rich, buttery and crisp. I sandwiched them with some leftover chocolate ganache. Délicieux! Even by themselves.
Happy (day after) Valentine’s Day!
Pate à Petits Gâteaux (translated and adapted from Le Guide Culinaire, with thanks to Julia Child for help with instructions)
500 grams of flour, sifted
300 grams butter
300 grams sugar
1 egg plus 4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon of orange water (I used vanilla flavoring.)
Cut the butter into the flour with a food processor or stand mixer, until the mixture resembles course meal. Mix together sugar, egg, egg yolks, and flavoring. Beat the liquid mixture into flour/butter mixture until just combined, just a few seconds. Gather up dough and knead two times. Chill for at least one hour. Roll out dough to 1 cm thick (between 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch thick). Bake on a greased cookie sheet or parchment paper at 375º for 12-15 minutes.