One particularly graceful way to serve ice cream, sorbet or mousse for dessert is to scoop it into cookie cups made from vanilla cookie dough fashioned into the shape of open tulips.
Cookie tulips are formed in minutes by pressing circles of hot pliable baked dough over the backs of brioche molds or custard cups. As they cool, the cups become crisp.
Made from a somewhat liquid, spreadable batter, the tulips can be tricky to form. Be sure that baking sheets are generously buttered and floured so the cookies can be easily removed.
When molding the fragile hot cookies by pressing them between brioche molds or custard cups, ease the top mold or cup carefully over the dough to prevent tearing and to ensure that the tulips will have flat bottoms that allow them to sit squarely on plates.
Thickened Egg Whites
One key to the texture of the batter is to whip egg whites until they are thickened and opaque but not so thick that they form soft peaks. The food processor, which whips less air into egg whites than conventional beaters, is perfect for this task.
To aerate egg whites with the processor metal blade, it is necessary to mix the whites with a small amount of liquid, usually water. Lemon juice, which acts as a stabilizer, is also mixed into the unbeaten whites.
The best technique for whipping egg whites is to pour them into the machine with the motor on, then process continually until they are beaten to the desired consistency. For this batter, the egg whites will become slightly shiny and will deflate slightly as sugar is processed in.
Cookie tulips can be made several days in advance, if desired, and should be stored in a dry airtight tin, since humidity or refrigeration will cause them to soften.
TULIP COOKIE CUPS
3 egg whites
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted butter, cooled
1 tablespoon whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
Butter and flour 2 heavy-duty baking sheets. On each, trace 3 (4-inch) circles spaced 1 1/2 inches apart using large cookie cutter as guide. Set aside.
Insert metal blade in clean, dry processor container. In 1-cup measure, mix egg whites with lemon juice and water. With machine running, pour egg whites through chute in thin stream, then process until whites form thick, white, opaque mixture but do not form peaks.
Add sugar to egg whites and process 30 seconds. Add melted butter, cream, vanilla and 1/3 cup flour. Thoroughly mix with half-second pulses. Do not overprocess.
Drop 1 slightly heaping tablespoon batter onto each circle on baking sheet. Cover each circle evenly with batter, using back of spoon and working in spiral motion from center outward. Smooth batter evenly with spatula.
Bake on lowest rack of oven at 375 degrees 8 to 10 minutes until batter is set and golden brown ring forms around outside of each cookie circle.
Meanwhile, coat backs of 6 (1/2- to 2/3-cup) flat-bottom brioche tins with oil and set aside.
Working quickly so cookies do not harden, remove baking sheet from oven. Loosen each cookie from baking sheet with spatula and transfer each to back of brioche tin. Press gently to mold cookie around tin into open tulip shape. Working carefully so cookies do not tear, gently ease second tin over first to set shape of cookie. Cool between molds 5 minutes before removing.
Repeat spreading, baking and molding cookies until all batter is used. Store in airtight tins until ready to fill with ice cream, sorbet or mousse. Do not refrigerate. Makes 12 to 13 tulip cups.