Natasha Pickowicz's Masa and Orange Cigars
All-purpose tuile batter—made with egg whites, melted butter, sugar, and a little flour—can be used to make any number of elegant cookies. Because the cookie emerges from the oven thin and pliable, you have a brief window to manipulate the tuile into any shape you desire, from a ruffly chip to a pleated fortune cookie. I love to have a tin of delicate, buttery cigars around, which pair great with everything from a hot cup of tea to a scoop of ice cream. The key is to spread the batter thinly, so the wafer bakes up crisp and melts in your mouth. As soon as the tuile comes out of the oven, fragrant and golden, you'll roll the wafer around a chopstick or pencil, which helps keep the cigarette shape intact. I've swapped in a bit of masa harina—the fine flour that comes from ground nixtamalized corn—which makes these simple tuiles smell (and taste) absolutely transcendent. I've added a little grated orange zest to perk it all up; try dunking these into an after-dinner amaro or fudgy chocolate ice cream for the ultimate winter treat.
- 1 stick (110g) unsalted butter
- ¾ cup (150g) white sugar
- 3 large egg whites (90g)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- zest of one orange
- ⅓ cup (40g) all-purpose flour
- scant ⅓ cup (30g) masa harina or corn flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Melt 1 stick of butter in an All-Clad D3 Stainless 1.5 Quart Sauce Pan and set aside.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg whites until smooth. Once smooth, add the vanilla extract and orange zest and whisk until you have a similar consistency. Finally, add in the melted butter and whisk until the mixture is completely smooth.
- Stir in the all-purpose flour, masa, and kosher salt with a spatula. The batter should be runny and fall off the spatula in sheets. Transfer the bowl to the refrigerator to rest for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325°F.
- Line an All-Clad Pro-Release Nonstick Half Sheet Pan with parchment. Transfer a heaping tablespoon of batter to the baking sheet, and use a small offset spatula to spread the batter into a circle about 3 inches wide. Try to get the batter as smooth and even as possible, it's ok if it looks a little uneven. Continue adding spoonfuls of batter and spreading them thinly into circles; you should be able to fit 6 circles of batter per half-sheet tray.
- Transfer to the oven and bake until the edges are golden and the centers are a paler golden, about 8 to 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the cookies towards the end of the baking time to ensure they do not come out too browned. If the cookies are overcooked, they will be harder to roll at the end.
- Remove the tray from the oven and immediately set a chopstick at the top of one of the wafers. Use the edge of the small offset spatula to lift the wafer off of the parchment, wrapping it around the chopstick. Working quickly, use the tips of your fingers to roll the wafer around the chopstick, tucking it tightly against itself as you go. Repeat with the remaining 5 rounds for a total of 6 cigars. If the tuile is too cool to wrap and begins to crack around the chopstick, place the baking sheet back in the oven for 10 seconds to warm the cookie, making it pliable once more.
- Continue to work in batches until complete, one batch should yield about 30 cigars.
- The batter can be held in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to a month. The baked cigars will stay crisp and delicate for weeks while stored in an airtight container.
A scant cup referenced in the masa harina or corn flour ingredients is 1/3 of a cup minus roughly 1 tablespoon.
For a luxurious upgrade, dunk one end of the cigars in a glossy chocolate sauce. Melt 1/2 cup of chocolate chips with 1 teaspoon of coconut oil in the microwave and stir until smooth. Dunk one end of the baked cooled cigar in the warm chocolate mixture and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment. Let them cool completely, then sprinkle with flaky sea salt and more grated orange zest. Alternatively, you can spread this chocolate mixture on the tuile right out of the oven and then roll the tuile around the chopstick as instructed, so the chocolate is embedded inside.
Natasha Pickowicz is an NYC-based pastry chef and writer. She is a three-time James Beard Foundation Award finalist, recognition from her time spent running the pastry programs at the award-winning restaurants Altro Paradiso, Flora Bar, and Flora Coffee from their opening in 2016 until March of 2020. Currently, Natasha runs the acclaimed pastry pop-up called Never Ending Taste, which celebrates the relationship between local farming, social justice, and community bake sales. It has been held at NYC’s Superiority Burger, Brooklyn’s The Four Horsemen, the American-Vietnamese bakery Bạn Bè, the Taiwanese tea room Té Company, LA’s Kismet, and San Diego’s Chino Farms. She is now working on her debut cookbook.
Connect with Natasha on social @natashapickowicz