Sounds fancy, right? Well, you’ve seen how to make the reduction (easy-peasy, right?) and the whipped brie (even easier than the reduction), so now let’s tackle the one part of this appetizer that’s difficult — but not too difficult; it just takes some careful work. Nothing that you can’t handle, though. After all, you’re used to scratchin’ out your food.
This, as many of you can probably tell immediately, is based on one of Thomas Keller’s creations. In fact, the cones we’ll be making today might be his signature creation, since every guest of The French Laundry is served a cone with Salmon Tartare and Sweet Red Onion Crème Fraîche. Now, neither of those accompaniments seem that hard, and you can find how to make both of those in The French Laundry Cookbook, but we thought that we’d change it a bit and use whipped brie and balsamic reduction, in the hope that it would look like a soft serve cone with just a touch of chocolate sauce.
Let’s scratch out those cones! (We cut the original recipe in half, because we didn’t want 24 cones).
Like most of Thomas Keller’s recipes, this one calls for amounts measured to the nearest gram. You may be saying, “That’s ridiculous, I can’t believe someone would measure this carefully”. We can tell you, we do measure out his recipes this carefully. And do you know why? They work. Perfectly. Each and every time. The ingredients are pretty basic, but we recommend that you use unsalted butter, so you won’t have cones that are too salty, and, as always, use an egg from a happy hen. One that eats grasses and bugs; it makes all the difference (in the taste of the egg, and for the hen).
Procedure in detail:
Make a stencil. Find a plastic lid from a container of something like oatmeal or a large tub of yogurt. It should be one of those flexible lids, not the brittle kind. Trim off the lip around the edge, then cut a hole in the center that measures between 3 1/2 to 4 inches in diameter. This will be your stencil for making the cones.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Move a rack to the middle of the oven, and place a silicone baking mat right on the countertop. It’s easier to use the stencil without the baking pan in the way.
Beat butter and sugar. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a food processor, and whirr away. With just 4 tablespoons of butter, you’ll need to scrape down the sides of the bowl several times to make sure everything is mixed completely.
Add flour and salt. Pour the flour and salt over the butter mixture and pulse a few times to combine. Again, scrape down the bowl as needed.
Add egg white. With the processor running, pour in the egg white and process until you have a light batter. Scrape the sides of the bowl if necessary.
Spread. Place the stencil on your baking mat and spread about 1 1/2 teaspoons of batter in the center to make a circle. Use a straightedge, or an offset spatula to scrape off the excess batter. Make sure there are no holes in the batter, because this batter will not spread to fill them in. Remove the stencil and you should have a nice circle of batter. Make as many circles as will fit on the baking mat, leaving about 1/2 inch of space between each circle. Place the baking mat on a baking sheet.
Sprinkle. Sprinkle all the circles with sesame seeds to give them a bit of texture.
Bake. Slide the baking sheet into the oven for 4 minutes, or until the batter is set and the edges are a faint brown. The circles will ripple from underneath as moisture cooks off, making them seem as if they’re roiling on small waves.
Roll. Remove the pan from the oven and place on a heatproof work surface. Working quickly, flip over a circle, place a cream horn mold on one side, and roll the small pancake around the horn, forming a cone. Turn the cone so the seam side is down. Continue with the remaining pancakes.
Bake. Place the cones back into the oven for another 4 to 6 minutes or until golden brown. Then, remove the cones from the molds; they should just slip off. If needed, place the cones back in the oven to finish crisping, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Cool. Place the cones on paper towels to cool. Wipe the melted butter off the baking mats and allow them to cool before using the remaining batter.
Pipe and drizzle. Now for the fun part. Take that piping bag of whipped Brie and fill those cones. Then drizzle on 1 to 3 drops of the balsamic reduction so it looks like chocolate sauce.
As we expected, the recipe for these cones worked perfectly. And they were so tasty, light and crisp, slightly sweet and slightly salty. We thought that the cones paired well with the Brie and balsamic reduction; plus, they were so cute and so much fun to eat. Sure, the cones were a bit of trouble to make, what with spreading the batter and rolling, but it wasn’t rocket science. Just some care while working. Plus, we figure that it’ll get even easier the next time (we’ll be making some more cones this weekend). Even with the extra effort, these cones are worthy of five stars.