In France, these small, elegant, sweet crunchy bites are served after dessert with champagne. They are nothing more than rectangles of puff pastry painted with royal icing. As they bake, the top layer of dough with the icing on it lifts away from the rest of the dough, resulting in two different textures and a lovely duotone appearance. The effect is magical. Freeze the dough before spreading a thin, even layer of icing over it, then freeze again until the icing is very cold, so you can make precise, clean cuts when you slice the dough into rectangles. I love the way Sebastien bakes these beneath a wire cooling rack so that when they puff, they all puff to exactly the same height.
- Yield: 24 Allumettes
- 8.8 ounce (250 grams) Puff Pastry
- 2 tablespoons (38 grams) Royal Icing for Allumettes
- Lightly flour the work surface and a rolling pin. Lightly dust the top of the puff pastry with flour and roll it outward from the center, flipping, fluffing, and rotating the dough and turning it over, adding only enough flour to the work surface, dough, and/or pin as necessary to prevent sticking, until you have an ll-by-8-by-1/8-inch-thick rectangle. If the dough becomes too difficult to roll, place it on a sheet pan and refrigerate until cold, then return it to the work surface and continue to roll it.
- Set the dough on a sheet pan and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or freeze for 20 to 30 minutes, to chill and relax it. To Bake the Dough
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (standard). Lay a piece of parchment paper on the back of a small baking pan.
- Trim the dough to a 7½-by-8-inch rectangle and put on the parchment. Freeze until frozen, 10 to 15 minutes. (It is much easier to spread the icing on frozen dough.)
- Remove the dough from the freezer and, using an offset spatula, spread the icing in a very thin, even layer over the surface, reaching the edges. The spatula can be lightly moistened to help create a smooth edge. Freeze for 5 to 10 minutes (the puff pastry and icing must be cold and firm to cut).
- Trim the rectangle of dough to 6 by 7½ inches. Freeze again.
- It is crucial that the allumettes have very clean edges, so have a pitcher of water and a towel nearby to clean the knife between cuts. Cut the iced dough crosswise in half and then cut each half across into twelve 3-by-5/8-inch rectangles, returning the dough to the freezer as necessary if the icing or dough softens. If any of the edges are ragged, they can be smoothed with a small offset spatula, though the results will not be as good. Chill again, until firm, about 10 minutes.
- Line a sheet pan with a Silpat or parchment paper. Position a mold or ramekin in each corner to support a cooling rack. Arrange 12 of the allumettes evenly on the sheet pan, leaving about 1½ inches between them. Put the cooling rack upside down on top of the molds Bake for 15 minutes, or until the icing is a pale golden brown and the puff pastry is golden brown. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F and bake for 5 more minutes to ensure the puff pastry is cooked through. Let cool completely on a cooling rack and turn the oven to preheat to 350°F.
- Repeat with the remaining allumettes.
- Serve the allumettes within 1 hour (if allowed to stand for longer, the tops will soften).