Arlette, mother of William the Conqueror or delicious cookie. While looking around the internet trying to find out exactly what I was about to bake I stumbled across a list of famous Arlettes but not a lot of cookies. The best I could find was that Arlettes are a variation on the Palmier, another puff pastry cookie. Palmiers are named after palm trees and pigs ears, not things I usually group together. Arlettes just seem to be their own thing, no plant or animal name sake. I did read that Arlettes are sometimes served with icecream, which brings me to my big revelation. The Arlette ice-cream sandwich!! Move over macaron, beat it dark chocolate-esk cookie, make room for the Arlette! I’m on to something here I know it!
The Arlette recipe didn’t call for any usual ingredients just ridiculous amounts of butter. For anyone that hasn’t seen this episode or the few of you that aren’t intimately familiar with the workings of the Arlettes you make the layers/lamination by encasing a brick of dough in a sheet of butter. This is different from the usual butter encased in dough method. This is weird for several reasons. 1. Butter isn’t very sheet like or flexible. 2. Dough encased in butter seems very counter intuitive. 3. This recipe uses roughly a zillion pounds of butter. Strange or not, I followed Paul on the magical journey to Arlette-ville.
First up I made my dough, which not surprisingly contained butter. Next I made my butter sheet which surprisingly contained flour. The sheet started out more as a paste but it was nothing some parchment and elbow grease couldn’t fix.
I was surprised that the ultra precise Paul didn’t include dimensions for the dough block or butter sheet. So without his guidance I made it up. With my dough rolled into a square of indeterminate proportions I started working my butter into a sheet. The blob did not know about right angles so it tool some coaxing but eventually I got there.
The recipe calls for lots of chilling time which I applied to the pastry and myself and after a relaxing half hour I began the laminating process. Getting the butter off the parchment was ridiculously frustrating as it didn’t release in a nice neat sheet like I had envisioned. Instead I had to scrape butter off the parchment and kind of spread it onto the dough.
After scraping and smearing I had one dough/butter block and I was ready to begin my book turns. The turns were pretty straight forward. Because I was rolling the butter cased dough out in flour each time the whole thing took on a smooth very dough like finish. I had thought rolling butter would be a melt-y, sticky mess but in the end it was pretty reasonable. That is until it came time to add the sugar.
Just like the Kouig amann the Arlette recipe specifies adding sugar in the last turn. Which is fine in theory but really difficult in practice. Even after spreading the sugar and finely as possible and pressing it in with the rolling pin I had major sugar leakage.
I tried my best to incorporate all the escaping sugar but I have no doubt I ended up with a few grams less than the recipe stated.
I rolled the whole thing up and sliced it into discs. I was feeling optimistic, it looked pretty Arlette like to me!
Turning the slices into flat discs presented another challenge. The pinwheels were not sticking together. With each pass of the rolling pin the slices turned into unraveling snails. I developed a system of tucking the tail under the swirl of dough before rolling it out and my snail problem was solved.
I baked the discs for about 8 minutes rotating half way and I got nicely caramelized Arlettes!
The cookies tasted like a grown up buttery Cinnamon Toast Crunch. In other words they were delicious. Considering all the butter in each cookies they were light and not at all greasy. I think my layers could have been a bit more defined and flaky but we happily ate them all. And after significant research I can confidently say they would be amazing with ice-cream!