Langues de chat always remind me of my early college days, a time of new-found freedom to eat as much ice-cream as one wants without parental restriction. Those were the days when I smeared Nutella onto these thin cookies and paired them with some good-quality vanilla ice-cream for a midnight “sandwich.” Peanut butter and jelly? Pfffft.
But aside from this less-than-glamourous reason, I also appreciate langues de chat for their delicate taste. They make jolly good company for afternoon tea and for coffee after dinner. Here, the sesame seeds give the cookies a nutty aroma, adding a twist to this French classic. At the same time, it is perfectly fine if you choose to omit the sesame seeds: I have a feeling that this recipe will also serve as a good starting point for alterations and experimentations.
Ingredients and Procedure
- 110g butter, at room temperature
- 130g icing sugar
- 130g flour
- 3 egg whites (from large eggs)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- black and white sesame seeds
The original recipe calls for 3 to 4 egg whites and does not include vanilla extract. I was afraid that the cookies could taste too blend with just the butter and the icing sugar, so I decided to add a touch of vanilla. If you have vanilla beans, I don’t see why you can’t use them.
To start, preheat oven to 170 degrees celsius and line cookie tray with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with a electric beater or a whisk until smooth. Next, add the icing sugar and continue creaming. Follow this with the flour and mix thoroughly.
With a scraping spoon, fold in egg whites and vanilla gently. When that is done, we are ready to start forming the cookies by squeezing the batter onto the tray. If you have a piping bag, that is fantastic; if you don’t, substitute it with a good o’ Ziploc bag and snip off a corner. Be careful not to create an opening that’s too large or to remove the corner before you have filled the bag!
You can form the cookies into whatever shape you want. For my batch, half the cookies had the classic “cat tongue” look while the others were shaped like teaspoons (an inspiration I got from the author, Morishima Yoshie). The following is the paths I came up with after several trials for the “optimized piping experience.”
Remember to leave at least a three-centimetre space between each cookie. Sprinkle the sesame seeds liberally over the cookies, and bake until the edges turn golden brown. The duration of the baking time is dependent upon the shape and size of your cookies. In my case, the cat tongue ones took about 8 minutes while the teaspoon ones only required 6 minutes.
Makes approximately 40 cookies
Don’t be surprised if the batter seems somewhat stiff. Initially, I expected that it would be runny and was worried that I did not add enough liquids. However, in the end it worked out fine. If the consistency of your batter feels like toothpaste, then you are on the right track.
Now the truly exciting part: gift-wraping! You know, sometimes I feel that the whole point of baking is really to package the goods nicely and give them to one’s beloved. I packed a portion the cookies for two of my friends, while reserving the rest for myself. For the cat tongue ones intended for a classmate, I used a goody bag that I had purchased over the winter break to create a more classic “Parisian” look:
I can’t begin to tell you how much I adore the combination of colours in this: the rich yellows hiding beneath the lace design, the white and chocolate brown trims, the black sesame seeds, the gold wire, and the touch of red. Oh, how I love girly designs (insert sigh)!
And for the teaspoon ones, I kept them in a glass jar. Aside from keeping moisture out (an essential for these airy cookies), the jar also display their quirky shape better. Knowing the recipient and his habits, I think a sturdy jar would unquestionably serve as a better container for these fragile goodies than would a flimsy plastic bag.
(Actually, it was a good thing that I stored these in an air-tight containers, because someone didn’t even notice the present until I asked him about it over breakfast a few days later. Oh that fool.)