Saturday, September 18, 2010

Salted Praline Cookies: When French Potlucks Attack

I have been baking lazy these last few summer weeks. Literally, I have been hot and baking and lazy. The sun was high and cantaloupe was super sweet & a dollar- plus my stove kicks off mad heat. Then Labor Day came and went and I wore a sweater the other day. And THEN I got invited to a French potluck.

I no longer go to school but this time of year makes me want to sharpen pencils and challenge myself. So, the oven mitts went on and Salted Praline Langues de Chat commenced. Sort of. Makin' my own candy, MacGuyvering the piping bag...challenge, challenge, challenge! Why thank you Epicurious!

For praline
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds (preferably with skin), toasted

For cookies
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/3 cup sliced almonds (preferably with skin)
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
5 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract ***didn't so just didn't use. Added 1/3 teaspoon cinnamon.
Sea Salt for sprinkling

Equipment: a pastry bag fitted with a 3/8-inch plain tip***Def do not have that. I just used a Ziploc w/ a corner cut off.

Make praline:
Put a large sheet of foil on a heatproof work surface.

Heat sugar in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring with a fork to heat sugar evenly, until it starts to melt, then stop stirring and cook, swirling skillet occasionally so sugar melts evenly, until it is golden. Add toasted almonds, stirring until coated well, then carefully pour onto foil (mixture will spread) and cool completely, about 15 minutes. Peel praline off foil and chop with a large heavy knife. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.

Make cookies:
Preheat oven to 325°F with racks in upper and lower thirds. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together flour and table salt. Pulse almonds with sugar in a food processor until finely ground.

Beat butter and sugar mixture with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, then beat in egg whites and extracts. At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches until just combined well.

Transfer batter to pastry bag, then dab some batter under corners of parchment to secure to baking sheets. Pipe 6-inch-long strips (about 1/3 inch wide) 1 1/2 inches apart in 2 slanted rows (so they will fit) on each baking sheet.

Bake until slightly puffed but still pale, 7 to 9 minutes, then sprinkle generously with praline and lightly with sea salt. Continue baking until cookies are baked through and golden-brown on edges, 7 to 11 minutes more. (Turn baking sheets if cookies are browning unevenly.) Slide parchment with cookies onto racks to cool completely (cookies will crisp as they cool).

Form and bake more cookies on cooled baking sheets lined with fresh parchment.

For God's sake people, please pipe small. I piped way to big and ended up having to cut these into squares. The praline was the best part and do not forget the sea salt. Lovely!

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