My dear, poor, non French people,
Those of you who know me “pour de vrai“, for real, all know it for sure: I can never hold my tongue. Tenir sa langue was one of the hardest task at school for me, even more than any athletic activities, although I was always the number one worst athlete wherever I went (yes, some teachers thought I was running backwards to break the school records of worst time at the traditional winter race). My report card has invariably been the same for years: “Bien, mais bavarde”: Good, but what a chatterbox!
Not my fault, I always answered, my mom and my grand mother are the same, we have a well hung tongue, une langue bien pendue!
We also share a love for beef tongue pot au feu (which I would cook with pleasure to any LA friends willing to: I love it, but can’t cook find anyone to share it with…) and for… cat tongues. Langues de chat. Not the kind of tongues you give to a cat when you have no idea what the answer to a question is (donner sa langue au chat means your clueless). The ones you eat at quatre heures, on a nice Sunday afternoon.
Langues de chat
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
4 egg whites
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon orange blossom water
Of course they are no real cat tongues. We French would eat anything, and some of you might know that I’m part of this strange group od people who love to eat horse meat and rejoice about a nice lunch of lamb brains or beef tripes in Calvados. But let’s call a cat a cat (and please, try and explain to me why the english expression for it is “let’s call a spade a spade?” ), the French love les minous too much to even start to consider doing it.
When I was a kid though, my father, who has his very special kind of French dead-pan humour, made me believe that he had to eat cat roastbeef (roast cat?) when he was at the boarding school. A way I guess to prevent me from going wild (if you’re a bad girl, you’ll go to boarding school)… I also remember well him pretending too that langues de chat were real cat tongues, which was a way I guess to prevent me from getting fat…
Twenty and something years later, I’m proud to say that I can make them myself (and eat almost as many as I want for the good reason that it’s good and life is short!). Langues de chat are as thin and delicate as a cat tongue, and they can alsmost warm you up as well as having a petit chat on your laps. These cookies are considered as “petits fours”, little ovens, the small pastries and cookies that you offer for tea on a Sunday afternoon.
No fancy ingredients and strange additives to theses small wonders: you only need what is surely already in your kitchen: flour, butter, and eggs. The secret to their very bearable lightness of being is a classic in pastry : oeufs à la neige, whisked egg whites until they look like snow.
- Preheat your oven at 350°F.
- Melt the butter, and mix it with the sugar in a large bowl, until the sugar melts in the butter. Add the flour and keep stirring. Add the orange blossom water and stir again.
- In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until they are very firm. Add them to the first bowl, and stir slowly; you have to wrap the whites with the rest of the mixture, until they combine together. Once it’s homogenous, put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- You can then use a pastry bag… Or do like me, “à l’arrache“: using a small spoon, layer very thin yet long lines on a parchment paper sheet. Space them well (about 1′ in between)
- Cook for 10 to 12 minutes. The “tongues” are ready when they are slightly golden.
NO cookie jar if you’re French and perfect! Petits fours and other petits gâteaux must be kept in a metalic box.
Langues de chat are also great with a nice glass of champagne.
Bon appétit les amis!