Saturday, August 22, 2009

Love, Loss and What I Baked: Tempest in a Teacup

This was circa 1995 I think, and the blurry photo above was taken with a film camera in our sunny kitchen in San Francisco.

As soon as I saw the chef on the series Cooking Secrets of the CIA making Chocolate Tea Cups with Tuile Spoons I NEW I had to make them.

What you do is melt chocolate, dip in a 3/4 blown balloon - water balloon size - and then let the chocolate harden. Once it does, you poke the balloon with a pin right near the knot and let the air slowly come out. Voila! You've got a chocolate cup. Pipe a "C"-shaped handle and attach it with melted chocolate.

Sounds easy right? It is... until....

Until you have a balloon with a weak spot or chocolate with a hot spot or a deadly combination of the two.

As my husband describes it, "There she was in the kitchen, happy as a clam dipping her balloons. I leave the room for a sec and hear a loud, 'Oh !@#$%^&*!!!!!!'. I go back into the kitchen and it looks like a chocolate crime scene."

Yes, one of my balloons POPPED a couple of inches above the bowl. It looked like a crazy person had splattered chocolate all over the place. I was cleaning chocolate for months and months. It was under the chairs, behind the shelves, on top of the fridge....

But isn't the cup the cutest thing???? I filled it with coffee mouse and topped that with whipped cream and a Tuile Spoon to our friends Beth and Scott - who not only got a yummy dessert, but a funny story.

Tuile Cookies
Recipe from: Your Place or Mine

Tuile means "tile" in French, and is a classic, old-fashioned cookie. The traditional shapes are usually a shaped oval (almost like a Pringle) or rolled into a "cigarette." It's fun to play around with different shapes.

Makes about 24

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar

  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

  • whites of 3 eggs

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

  2. In a bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla together. Gradually beat in the egg white, then fold in the flour until you have a smooth paste. Chill for about 2 hours.

  3. Place small spoonfuls of the mixture about 4 inches apart on a nonstick baking sheet, then spread these out into rounds with a spatula.

  4. Bake for about 4 minutes until the mixture is just beginning to color (keep checking).

  5. Remove from the oven and leave to cool very slightly until you can handle them. Shape the rounds by draping them over the length of a rolling pin or as described below. Leave until completely cool and set, then lift off gently. you can keep the tuiles in an airtight container for up to a week.

Other Shapes:

Depending on the size you want, drape your warm rounds of baked tuile over the top of a clean bottle or gently press them inside a tea or custard cup and leave until cool.

Take a piece of clean cardboard and cut out the shapes you want: say, flowers or leaves. Lay the cardboard stencil on your baking sheet and spread the mixture over the top. Lift off the cardboard carefully before baking.


  1. it's nice to know that even famous bakers make mistakes like the rest of us ;)

  2. Oh yes - many, mistakes - but at least they are mistakes with sugar and butter in them!