Thomas Keller’s Cornets – Savory and/or Sweet

by White on Rice Couple on August 29, 2008

Thomas Kellers Cornets Recipe

Last Saturday’s superb blogger party still has us pumped up and buzzing. Even with all the dishes cleaned and put away, we’re still feeling the exciting aftershocks of the amazing gathering. Thanks to everyone who attended! All of you make us proud to be part of this passionate blogging community! Since we’re still riding the waves of the fun gathering, we’ve decided to post a few of the recipes for the dishes that we made for the party. This is definitely a first for us because normally after any party, the last thing we want to do is to write about each of the individual dishes and the recipes. Although so many times we have asked for specific recipes for our party dishes, we’re just too burnt out to write about each specific dish, or any of them for that matter. Plus, half of the time we are tweaking the recipes or shooting them from the hip, so there is no way to accurately post an honest recipe unless we spend the hours trying to recreate the recipe measuring and documenting the results.   Normally we’ll just write a long post with some pictures to share and that’s pretty much it. Forget any followup posts or recipes folks! We’ll usually make you just read the party post and weep!  Bratty! We know! Or as we like to say “Turkeybuttish!”

But like we said, this party was jam packed with some  phenomenal bloggers and their amazing spirit has pumped us up to write about at least one of the dishes, which were the cornets. For those who attended, do you all remember the cornets?  Thomas Keller’s opening salvo in his “The French Laundry Book” which was so beautifully captured through the talented hands, eyes, and minds of Susie Heller, Michael Ruhlman, and Deborah Jones. Thanks to all those who collaborated on this fabulous book! For Keller, his cornet, even though it was born out of sadness, has become a signature of his restaurant with it’s simple ability to evoke childhood joy.  In The French Laundry Cookbook he declares,  “I decided that everyone who eats at the restaurant should begin the meal with this cornet.  People always smile when they get it.  It makes them happy.”

Thomas Kellers Cornets Recipe

It wasn’t long into our menu planning discussions that the idea of serving Keller’s cornets came up.  We’ve played with the idea of serving them at many of our gatherings, but the timing has never seemed right.  It’s usually either too many people, or not the right crowd, or when we finally had some true culinary aficionados over, we would forget to add it to the menu.  However this time we were having the perfect group over.

Making these precious tasties isn’t exactly a day in the spa.  The batter is simplicity, the forms we already have crafted from past use, but the oven work can be a bit daunting. Standing at the oven’s open mouth, with it’s breath threatening to scorch your hide, while you delicately flip and roll the cornets around their molds, isn’t what some would describe as an enjoyable experience.  Add that to the sizzling butter from the cornets and the high temp oils from the flax seeds (Keller uses black sesame seeds) singeing the tips of your fingers as you try to execute this seemingly simple task.  Of course one doesn’t have to bare-hand it, but no implement is as dexterous as the human hand and the toughening of the fingertips trumps the wasted time and frustration of using little helpers.  Personally, it rekindles memories of bare-handed pulling pizzas and quesadillas in and out of a 500° oven at the restaurant that was my second home for nearly a decade.  I can hear the the jazz or funk playing as me and my boys cranked through another crazy weekend rush, while the food threatens to ooze it’s napalm of fillings onto your palm.  Good times.

Thomas Kellers Cornets Recipe

For the filling, we didn’t want to copycat Keller’s salmon tartare, even though the tartare is beautifully simple and delicious. We’ve made the cornets many times before with other savory fillings such as grilled salmon and an eggplant caviar.  But being that one of us has a sweet jaw (sweet tooth²), our thoughts drifted towards a sweeter style filling.  And when we remembered that there was some leftover filling from our goat cheese pillows which we had served the weekend before, it immediately appealed to our palates and to our frugal natures and we screamed “Yahtzee!” (Yes, dear guests, you were served leftovers.  And I bet you never guessed.  We are a set of Turkeybutts!) Add some fresh raspberries or blackberries and our reverent guests would have the perfect greeting.

For those of you wishing to recreate these, here’s how we did it with some visual step by step instructions. But for the specific recipe, you must buy Mr. Keller’sThe French Laundry Cookbook” and follow his instructions. We’re firm believers that the lessons that Keller shares in this fantastic book will make you a better cook. Absolutely, a better cook! Besides,  we already  gave you our one freebie from the book last time with the Red Beet Ice Cream!

Steps before baking:

Thomas Kellers Cornets Recipe

Steps during the mid & final bake:

Thomas Kellers Cornets Recipe

 

For our sweet goat cheese/crème fraîche filling:

Mix approx. 2 parts goat cheese (room temp), 1/2 part sour cream or crème fraîche, 1/2 part cream cheese (room temp), a bit of vanilla extract and sugar to taste.  When ready to serve, pipe the goat cheese mix into the top 1/2″ of the cornet, top with a berry and serve immediately.  If they stand too long, the moisture from the filling will start to soften the cornet and you’ll lose the delicate crispness.

Here’s some tips we found while making the cornets:

  • Don’t cook them too much before you roll them around the mold.  They should be just done enough to set the batter without browning at all yet.  (The first pics in the second collage above were done just a little too much.  They should have been rolled about 1 min. earlier)
  • When rolling the cornet around the mold, use one hand to hold an edge of the batter against the mold and the other to roll the mold.  The rolling motion of the mold creates the shape much easier than trying to fold the batter around the mold.  Let the mold due all of the work.
  • Not all of the cornets will finish at the same time.  Use a chopstick inserted into the wide opening of the mold to lift out the hot molds.
  • By using 3 baking sheets, and 2 silpats, you can create a continuous flow of cornet making.  Spread 6 circles on  a mat and bake.  As they bake, start spreading 6 more on the second mat and baking sheet. When the first set is done, put the second set in oven.  Put finished cornets on paper towels, wipe silpat clean and place mat on cool (3rd) baking sheet (the mat will cool fairly quickly).  Spread next set of batter.  Wipe original baking sheet clean (it should now be cool), and place back at your batter spreading station and you are ready to repeat cycle.  (This cycle is recommended only after you are comfortable with spreading the batter and forming of the cornets.  It may be too overwhelming the first time you try to make the cornets.)
  • Inevitably, some cornets will break or come out funny.  Plan to make more than you need.

Thomas Kellers Cornets Recipe

Todd serving cornets at our blogger party

What?!? Still not enough for you? Ok, we just found this video, from Brightcove.tv, of Keller himself demonstrating making his cornets.  It looks like the actual baking had to be staged for the show, so you may not find that part wholly accurate but he most likely had to make adjustments to accommodate the media presentation.  But come on people, this is The Man giving away some of his secrets!  Be grateful!  You even get the recipe with a new twist of adding roasted garlic paste.

Watch Thomas Keller make his savory cornets:

Update: Sorry, this video is no longer available…..

More appetizers that you might enjoy:

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rita August 29, 2008 at 8:45 pm

Beautifull!!!!!!

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2 RecipeGirl August 29, 2008 at 8:53 pm

Wow, that recipe looks like it takes quite a bit of concentration and dedication. I guess drinking a couple of glasses of wine while prepping it is simply out of the question!

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3 Kitt August 29, 2008 at 9:27 pm

You guys are crazy ambitious in the kitchen, I have to say. But does it ever pay off.

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4 evil chef mom August 29, 2008 at 10:36 pm

i can not believe you guys made those! everyone talks about how hard they are to roll into the cornet before they cool and crack/break. good job, i bow down to you… i’m not worthy!

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5 Manggy August 29, 2008 at 11:20 pm

Hey, I’ll be glad to eat your leftovers any day. I’m feeling a little turkeybuttish myself, seeing what I missed… Humph! :P I’ve tried making tuilles here before but the moisture is just too great and they end up wilting after an hour or so.

This is such a production, but totally worth it! I love that you even invested in the little molds!

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6 Victoria August 30, 2008 at 12:42 am

These look beautiful. I haven’t made them but next year for my Fourth of July weekend when some friends come every year, I’ll do it.

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7 Ivy August 30, 2008 at 3:55 am

Good job. They look beautiful.

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8 diva August 30, 2008 at 8:14 am

wow. super cool cornets! great photos..i think i need a whole bag of that and loads of matcha ice cream haha.

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9 matt wright August 30, 2008 at 12:32 pm

OK, I always seem to use the term “awesome” in most comments I leave for you guys, so I am going to try to not use it here at all.

AWESOME!!!

bugger. Just too hard. I had no idea how much work went into these – it makes sense though, because they tasted fantastic, and were a great start to the meal. Call me rather odd, but a couple of burns here and there are just good memories of fabulous food!

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10 Brooke August 30, 2008 at 2:07 pm

One of the most memorable scenes in the Per Se server’s memoir “Service Included” was her description of Keller’s cornet and how difficult it was to make and master. When I saw that you two had made these precious treats I was totally blown away. Such classic, delectable treats that only an insider could guess how difficult it was to create.

Thanks for the recipe and the inside scoop! You both are amazing!

–Brooke

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11 Marvin August 30, 2008 at 4:26 pm

You’re right, I had no idea they were leftovers, but they were fantastic! The raspberry was the perfect topper for them too. I was totally greedy and wanted to ask Todd for another cornet after he gave me the first, but since we were the first ones to arrive and taste them, my wife had the sense to keep me in check and told me to wait until everyone else had a chance to try the cornets. Hmph!

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12 Lisa August 30, 2008 at 5:22 pm

What can’t you guys make?

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13 mikky August 30, 2008 at 10:41 pm

Wow!!! they are beautiful…. looks so delicious too… :)

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14 grace August 31, 2008 at 2:40 am

i’ve read that these are extremely difficult to prepare, and if you succeed at properly making them, you have truly arrived. congrats, folks–you’ve truly arrived! i’m crazy impressed, as usual. :)

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15 Zoë François August 31, 2008 at 6:41 am

Having just spent time at the MN State FAIR, I am attracted to all things mini. Although these are far too sophisticated to put on-a-stick, they would be such a welcome relief after all of the cheese curds we’ve consumed. They are gorgeous and in my line up of great recipes to try.

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16 Hélène August 31, 2008 at 10:28 am

Stunning!

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17 giz September 1, 2008 at 5:14 pm

Your gathering sounds like such fun. The coronets also look amazing – so creative and I’ll bet there was great conversation around them.

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18 ovenhaven September 2, 2008 at 12:59 am

These look exquisite! I’ve never wanted leftovers more :P

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19 canarygirl September 2, 2008 at 1:48 am

Gracious you two! Is there anything that you guys can’t master? These are insanely beautiful, and I bet they tasted even better.

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20 missginsu September 2, 2008 at 3:07 pm

I like the storage method… coronets stacked upright in a rice nest to avoid breakage and allow for easy filling and cooling. That’s really clever.

Cheers!
Miss Ginsu

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21 noobcook September 2, 2008 at 9:16 pm

awesome culinary art!!! they’re almost too pretty to eat ;)

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22 Y September 2, 2008 at 10:17 pm

These look lovely. Great idea as a sweet canape. That little raspberry on top of each one make them look even better… I want one! :D

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23 peabody September 2, 2008 at 11:57 pm

Those turned out beautifully!

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24 joey September 3, 2008 at 2:18 am

These look so lovely! And delicious too I’m sure :) What a great party you guys had! I love food blogger get-togethers…always fun!

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25 We Are Never Full September 3, 2008 at 3:17 pm

crazy you posted thi s now. We were so fortunate to go to French Laundry for dinner while we were out in San Francisco. I’m in total awe still of what i ate there. but we were bummed we missed the party – looked like a blast!

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26 Open Mouth, Insert Fork September 3, 2008 at 9:50 pm

Hi, I just discovered you through Wandering Chopsticks and spent most of my morning getting to know you through your blog and videos. Now I’m hooked!

Your garden is magnificent. We also have many fruit trees (orange, Meyer’s lemon, grapefruit, pomello, apricot, plum, persimmon, avocado, fig), but we could be doing so much more with our back yard space. Thanks for inspiring me.

Susan

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27 Assortment of Things September 4, 2008 at 2:56 am

The presentation looks absolutely amazing. I just discovered you guys through Wandering Chopsticks and am loving this blog already. You guys are so professional yet so down to earth. The pictures are incredibly beautiful.

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28 Kristen September 4, 2008 at 7:50 pm

AMAZING! Those are quite impressive!
Hey – and just read your tweet about the new camera. Crazy jealous here. Have fun with your new toy!

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29 Michael September 9, 2008 at 9:59 am

How do you get such beautiful photos of your food? They are really great. Are you professional photographers? I’d like to see a blog post about how to photograph your food!

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30 Simply...Gluten-free September 11, 2008 at 9:29 am

Yours look better than Keller’s – really!

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31 Raaga February 3, 2009 at 2:32 am

I love these :-)

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