Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Palets de Dames (French Butter Cookies)
I was away last week in Paris. It was a short, but very sweet trip. I returned home exhausted and inspired by the sights, scents, and tastes of that beautiful city. Everywhere we went the culinary classics were on display: exquisite pastries, familiar savory dishes, and fine wine. Parisians were out in force, enjoying the neighborhood cafes and shops, children and dogs included. We did the requisite tours of museums, monuments, and a boat trip down the Seine. We walked for what seemed to me to be miles and miles, and there was always something beautiful and interesting to see. I made a trip to E. Dehillerin, the iconic kitchen supply store on the Rue Coquilliere.
The copper goods are beautiful! There is every piece of equipment that one might ever need for the kitchen, in every size! I have not seen a duck press since my culinary school days, but there it was at E. Dehillerin. The salesmen were charming and good-natured, rushing about, filling orders, and helping customers find that coveted item so many of us had traveled a great distance to obtain. If you go, be sure to make a list! It's easy to get distracted. When I got home I immediately went to my Cordon Bleu recipe binders. I was nostalgic for those familiar flavors, and dishes that I haven't made in a long time. In the days to come I plan a return to some of my favorite classic French cuisine and pastry recipes. But for now, these simple little butter cookies will have to do. I haven't completely recovered from the jet lag. Afternoon tea and cookies is starting to help in that regard, though.
Palets de Dames
(makes about 20 small cookies)
40 grams raisins, soaked in enough rum to just cover, for 1 hour
62 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
62 grams powdered (confectioner's) sugar
75 grams all-purpose flour
A pinch of salt
Additional powdered sugar for the glaze (1/4 to 1/3 cup)
Freshly squeezed lemon juice for the glaze
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a heavy baking sheet with parchment paper (stack two sheets together if yours are not sturdy). Cream the butter in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon or spatula. Sift the powdered sugar into the butter and blend well. Add the salt and the egg and mix together (you may want to use a whisk to incorporate the egg). Sift in the flour and stir gently with the wooden spoon. Drain the raisins and add 2 teaspoons of the rum to the cookie batter; again, mixing gently. Fit a disposable pastry bag with a plain 1/2-inch tip (mine is #806), and scoop the batter into it. Pipe small cookies onto the prepared sheet, leaving about 2 inches between each (they will spread and flatten out as they bake). Press 3 or 4 raisins atop each cookie. Bake until the cookies are set and golden brown around the edges, about 6 to 8 minutes. Watch carefully that they do not burn. Remove to a rack to cool. Prepare the glaze by mixing the powdered sugar with enough fresh lemon juice to make a thin mixture that can be brushed onto the cookies. Apply the glaze to each cookie with a pastry brush and allow to set before serving. The cookies are best eaten the day they are baked but you can store them, separated by parchment paper, in an airtight container for a day or two.
(Adapted from a recipe inspired by the Cordon Bleu)