Chips with cheese, tomato, jalapeño, olives, and sour cream. Except not.
This tray of "nachos" is made from cornmeal tuiles, sablé cookies, and meringues. These are all types of cookies that can be molded, cut, or spread in very specific shapes.
I was truly delighted by how this tray of nachos turned out. Although I was focusing on the looks, it also actually tasted pretty good. The spicy flavor worked surprisingly well in the buttery jalapeño cookie, and the cornmeal was a nice crunch in the tuile chips.
Much like a tray of actual nachos, it was fun to dig into with friends, had different flavors and textures, and the chips all stuck to each other when you tried to pull one out.
I originally thought I might make tortilla chips out of sugar cookies, rolled out and baked on some kind of curved surface. But then I remembered that tuiles can be molded 3-dimensionally while warm.
Plus, you can basically make them any shape you want by spreading and carving out the paste. So, tuiles ended up being perfect for making faux chips. I experimented with adding some cornmeal for flavor and texture, and it worked just fine — it still baked just like normal tuiles.
This will make enough chips to cover a quarter sheet tray.
50g melted butter
50g powdered sugar
20g medium grind cornmeal
pinch of salt
splash of vanilla
Mix together all ingredients to form a smooth paste.
Line a sheet pan with parchment. Spread the paste in a thin layer with an offset spatula. The coarseness of the cornmeal will prevent you from spreading it too thin.
Use flat tools (spatula, spoon, etc) to scrape away the tuile dough, carving out triangle shapes.
Bake for 11 minutes at 300°.
The tuiles will be soft and pliable while warm from the oven. You will have 30-60 seconds to mold them into shape before they cool. Place each cookie in the curve of a bowl. Hold the tuile in place until it hardens.
Jalapeños, olives, tomatoes
Sablé cookie dough takes really well to flavorings and colorings, so it's a great base. In my experience, it can handle a lot of kneading to add stuff in.
I wanted to do jalapeños because the idea of a spicy cookie was too good to pass up. I used some of the oil from Trader Joe's Hot Crispy Habaneros, but you could use any spicy chili pepper oil that you like the taste of.
The olives are chocolate flavored so they start off brown-colored, which means you don't have to use so much black food coloring. (This trick also works on other things, such as black buttercream.)
For visual effect, it needed something red, so I also went with tomatoes. I was tempted to get more tomato-y texture in here but couldn't think of an easy way to do it.
This recipe will make much more dough than you need. You can save the rest and bake them as plain or other flavor cookies.
Instructions for the basic dough
Cream together 2 sticks of softened butter with 100g sugar and a pinch of salt.
Mix in 1 egg until fully incorporated.
Mix in 350g flour until fully incorporated.
From here you can divide the dough and knead in flavorings and colorings as you wish. For wet flavorings, you may need to add a spoonful or two of flour so it doesn't get too sticky.
Shape and bake the cookies at 350°. For small cookies like these it will take 10-12 minutes, but larger cookies can bake for up to 15 minutes.
Take about 1/3 cup of sablé dough. Mix in hot chili oil to taste, and green food coloring.
Roll out the dough to 1/4" thick. Cut out using a 1" inch circle cutter or base of a piping tip.
Use an Ateco 10 (small circle) piping tip to cut three circles in the center of the jalapeño. Use an Ateco 101 (small rose) piping tip to cut the left and right of each of the small circles, fanning out from the center. It's hard to explain. Watch the video!
Use a small brush to egg wash the inside of the holes. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, then use a toothpick to push the seeds into the holes. (Look at a jalapeño slice, you won't see seeds sitting on the cut surface. They cling to the center.)
Egg wash and bake.
Take about 1/3 cup of sablé dough. Mix in 1 tsp cocoa powder and black food coloring.
Roll out the dough to 1/4" thick. Cut circles using piping tips approximately 3/4" and 1/2".
Egg wash and bake.
Take about 1/3 cup of sablé dough. Mix in red food coloring.
Roll out the dough to 1/4" thick. Cut circles using a 1.5" cookie cutter. Cut the circles into quarters.
Egg wash, and sprinkle lightly with sesame seeds. Bake.
Use a serrated knife to cut the cooled cookies to about a 1/2" dice.
In a moment of brilliance I realized meringues would make the perfect sour cream. It bakes up snowy white, and will hold the exact shape through baking. You can dollop or swirl it, just like you would with sour cream.
I did this by hand with a whisk, because the volume is too small for my stand mixer. But you could make a larger quantity, or else maybe use a hand mixer.
Whisk 1 egg white until it becomes foamy.
Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar and continue whisking until stiff peaks form.
Dollop and swirl the meringue onto a parchment lined sheet tray. Plop it down however you would do with sour cream.
Bake for 1.5 hours at 200°. Then turn the oven off, but leave them in the still-warm oven until completely cool. This will take a couple hours.
The melty cheese is a white chocolate turmeric ganache. Turmeric adds another nice flavor, and is my go-to for a natural yellow food coloring. I honestly couldn't believe how much this looked like cheese sauce.
White chocolate can be pretty strong. To avoid making the thin tuiles overly sweet, spread the cheese instead of dipping. This will coat the cookie on only one side instead of two.
Make a ganache with a ratio of 1 part cream to 3 parts white chocolate by weight.
Stir in ground turmeric to the desired color and flavor.
Let the ganache cool until it is thick but still drips off a spoon. You can chill and rewarm the ganache as necessary.
Drizzle and spread the ganache over each cookie. Arrange on your tray as you go, while the ganache is still wet. The ganache will harden and stick together like nachos with melted cheese.
Arrange the topping on the chips. They will settle in and stick to the ganache as well.
A few other things I had considered were crumbled chocolate/spice cookies for ground beef, slice-and-bake radishes with a red edge, and cilantro made out of piped and dried royal icing. Maybe next time! Though I have no idea why there would be a next time for this rather silly dish!