Pailleté feuilletine is a common ingredient in a lot of chef-ey recipes. All it is is crushed up pieces of crêpes dentelles, or lacey crêpes. The crêpes themselves are more like a tuile or a biscuit than the pancake-type dessert I imagine when I hear ‘crêpes’. These incredibly thin layers of sweet, caremelised crêpe are rolled up into a cigar shape, either with an opening large enough for a filling or no.
I needed pailleté feuilletine for a cake I’m making soon, a cake with a massive list of obscure ingredients. I’ve resorted to making as many of the ingredients on my list as I can, both to cut costs and because it’s good fun.
In many places, crêpes dentelles, or the crushed form of them, are not difficult to find. But here in Australia, they are fairly obscure. It’s an item found almost exclusively in specialty food shops and is certainly not cheap for what you get. Making it at home was not only preferable for my hip pocket, but it produces a beautiful dessert along the way.
The batter is really simple to make. It begins with a bit of butter and sugar.
And ends with a bit of flour and egg white. And salt, which I forgot, because I forget ingredients a lot. I seriously can’t follow recipes.
My batter also wasn’t as thin as some I’ve seen when looking up how to make these guys. I think my butter was still a little too cold, but it didn’t seem to make an ounce of difference.
Once you have your batter done, spread it out onto a silicone mat. You can use baking paper if you don’t have a mat, but I always find it hand to get really thin layers of anything on paper- – it just shifts and creases on me and we end up having a fight. Silicone it is!
The key to these guys it getting it really thin. The width and length of the crêpe isn’t particularly important. I’m sure every single one of mine was a different size, but they all roll up fine.
You can only do about 3 at a time, and each batch takes about 5 minutes so you’ll want to have some other task in the vicinity of your kitchen to kill the few minutes in between.
When they’re done, the tricky party begins: rolling them. They’re not as delicate or finicky as I thought they might be. But they are hot. You’ll probably burn your fingers a lot, so you might want to use kitchen gloves or have ice water or something on hand to take the sting out of rolling them up. Or you can just ignore it all and press on like me. You build up quite a tolerance to kitchen burns after a while.
I found they rolled best if given a few moments (as in 10-20 seconds) to cool once removed from the oven. When I tried to roll them immediately they were a little too limp to cooperate and tore easily. You can use a cannoli form as I did, or the handle of any large utensil. If you don’t wish to fill them, you can simply wrap them around a knife or similar for a flatter cigar shape. If you’re only making them to yield pailleté feuilletine then it doesn’t matter what you do to get them off the mat.
I served mine with some strawberry cream I made by whipping up some cream with a little icing sugar and a bit of strawberry essence. You can fill them with and flavour cream, ice cream, mousse, custard or anything else you can dream of. Just make sure you only fill them right before serving.
Filled or not, these taste incredible. It was hard to resist picking at all the little bits that flaked off while baking. I honestly expected them to be quite bland, but instead they’re addictive.
They’re incredibly light and want to crumble all over the place. Being dainty and eating these do not go together well. But the mess is just half the fun.
‘Making’ the pailleté feuilletine is simply a matter of crushing up the crêpes you’re not using. As you go, make sure to reserve any broken bits that flake off and add them to your pile. I got about 250g worth from this recipe.
|110g (4oz) butter
1/2 cup (115g/3.75 oz) caster sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup (75g/2.5oz) flour
1 egg white (33g/1oz)