5 of the best French biscuits
For a refined teatime treat, try one of these French biscuits that come in many forms, from palm trees to cat tongues
Langues de chat
The long, slender lick of a cat’s tongue may not sound particularly appetising but it serves as an accurate description for the shape of this light, crunchy butter biscuits delicately flavoured with vanilla and lemon zest. Their subtle taste and light texture makes them a good accompaniment to ice-cream and chilled desserts.
Only the French would fashion a biscuit solely for the purpose of dipping in champagne. Created in the city of Reims in the late 17th-century, these oblong, dusty-pink treats are exactly that thanks to their hard, brittle texture that allows them to keep their form when soaked in bubbly. If you visit Reims, Maison Fossier (www.fossier.fr) is the best-known manufacturer – buy some to take home to serve with fizz or use in desserts such as Charlotte or Tiramisu.
This classic Breton staple consists of a butter-heavy, pancake batter that is cooked to just the right consistency before being rolling into a lace-thin cylinder and left to cool until crisp. The leading brand name, found in supermarkets throughout France, is Gavottes (www.gavottes.fr) who date the biscuit back to 1893 when a Quimper cook Marie-Catherine Cornic accidentally left her crêpes in for too long.
These elegant puff pastry palmier, or ‘palm tree’ due to their leaf-like shape, achieve the perfect combination of flaky, crunchy, buttery deliciousness. They are also a doddle to make if you use premade pastry; simply mix in sugar and cinnamon before rolling out several times, cut and coil into shape. Palmiers are also adaptable to serve as savoury canapés – try anchovy or olive tapenade.
Named after terracotta roof tiles, these wafer biscuits can jazz up any dessert. Although simple to make (by combining egg white, caster sugar, flour, butter and vanilla extract), the trick is in baking them for just the right amount of time so they turn light golden and you can wrap them around a rolling pin to achieve that all important elegant curve. Once mastered, you can experiment with form and flavour – try creating chocolate-dipped cigars or almond-flaked baskets that can be filled with chocolate mousse of mixed berries.
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