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I would propose that there are only so many spoonfuls of sweet-silky-smoothness one can handle before a crunch is necessary. It's why Mr. Goodbars (and Cookies 'N' Creme Bars, for that matter) are so superior to plain old Hershey Bars; why banana pudding has Nilla Wafers; and why, no matter how good this no-pie pumpkin pie is is, I'd still prefer it with a crust.
For pastry chefs (and home bakers who are willing to source ingredients from the internet), that crunch comes in the form of feuilletine (pronounced "foo-ye-tine," kind of): super-thin shards of lacey wafer cookies called crêpes dentelles (sold under the brandname Gavottes). As David Lebovitz puts it, the cookies taste like "sunny butter held together with just enough flour to keep them from breaking apart, then caramelized."
Crumbled into smithereens, they're a toasty, caramelly, praline-y textural addition to otherwise velvety desserts.
You can order feuilletine from the web, or make them at home (by creating, and then destroying, very thin cookies), or you can swap in a clever sub: Christina Tosi of Milk Bar recommends Corn Flakes as a stand-in. My bet is that if you took Corn Flakes, coated them in a mixture of brown butter and granulated sugar, baked them on low heat until crisp and dry, and then crushed them, that'd be an even closer approximation.
Once you get your hands on feuilletine (or a stand-in), here's how to use it:
- Use them to top a scoop of ice cream... or to enrobe a scoop of ice cream.
- Or, go straight to the source: Fold feuilletine into the ice cream base at the very end of the churning (as is the case with the pistachio gelato at Maybeck's in San Francisco).
- Do like Blossom to Stem does: Take baked and cooled brownies, then add a layer of melted dark chocolate that's been mixed with feuilletine as well as peanut butter blended with shards of caramel.
- Or use it to add crunch to a chocolate bark: Confessions of a Chocoholic makes a Double Chocolate Crunch Bark with two layers of chocolate—one milk, one dark, each with crunchy bits of feuilletine folded in—and a sprinkling of additional feuilletine and smoked sea salt.
- Fold into chocolate chip cookie dough (or simply press a tablespoon or so into each cookie before baking).
Another shot of uneven deliciousness: no-bake matcha white chocolate cheesecake bars on a chocolate feuilletine crust and white chocolate mousse top. Grab a bite of earth and green and air, savour the inverse relationship between the intensity of white chocolate and density of each layer as you go from base to top. A halo of sugar to crown that bite, be it your first or last✨
- Use as a layer in a trifle, or a mousse, or a cheesecake, or as an adornment for a creamy pie you're already making.
- Or set out to make an elaborate cake! The middle of Danielle Oron's Chocolate Chip Banana Tahini Cake is filled with "tahini crispies," a mix of tahini, feuilletine, confectioners' sugar, and crisp rice. And for textural variation in her German Chocolate Jimbo Cake, Christina Tosi adds a layer of pecan butter hulked up with plenty of feuilletine.
- Use as the center for truffles, stir into chocolate ganache, or add color and crunch to an Eton mess.
- Make this DIY Crunch bar, but with feuilletine in place of Rice Krispies.
- Add a handful to the topping of your next fruit crisp or crumble, no recipe needed.
Have you ever eaten—or baked with—feuilletine? Tell us in the comments!