I hadn't played around with hippen paste for a couple of years, so I thought I'd get myself back up to speed. What is hippen paste, you might ask? Well, it's a wafer that's kind of like a fortune cookie, but a thinner and a little better tasting. But of course I couldn't just make a plain old hippen paste wafer. I decided to play a little bit. Today's open source logo of choice was Gnome. And yes, I got permission this time. Many thanks to Máirín Duffy for that.
Here are the basics of hippen paste, in a nutshell. First, you make a paste. Then you spread it over a really thin stencil, onto a sheet of Silpat. Then you remove the stencil, toss the Silpat in the oven and bake it for a few minutes. Pull it, scrape the wafer away from the Silpat, bake it for a couple more minutes, shape it if you so desire, and let it cool. Okay, so that may have been a little much to take in all at once. Let's start from the very beginning.
First things first, I needed a stencil. My local crafty-type store sells these handy dandy little blank stencils. It's just a thin sheet of plastic that you cut out yourself. Unfortunately, I didn't think to take pictures of me cutting out the Gnome logo from the blank stencil sheet. I will tell you though that I cut the logo out about three inches wide. Don't worry, it's easy stuff, you can figure it out.
Now that we have a stencil, we can make the hippen paste itself. The recipe that I played with called for the following ingredients:
8 oz all-purpose flour
8 oz powdered sugar
4 1/2 oz egg whites
1 1/2 oz milk
Sift together the flour and sugar. This part is very important; you don't want lumps in your batter. Then whisk together the egg whites and milk, and slowly add in the flour/sugar mixture. Make sure it's thoroughly mixed, and then let rest for at least half an hour. While you're at it, you may want to divide your mixture in half and add enough cocoa powder to one half to give it a different color. You can probably add food coloring instead, but make sure it's powdered, not liquid- or oil-based. You'll be unhappy if it gets too wet.
While your paste is resting, go ahead and turn get the oven preheated to 350F. After half an hour, you can get started with the paste. Lay down your stencil on your Silpat. Don't use parchment paper! Take a little offset spatula and spread on a thin layer of chocolate hippen paste.
Move your stencil over and do the same next to the first one. You probably don't want to deal with more than six wafers at once.
Move the Silpat to the freezer. We want to get this stuff set up and solid before we do anything else. I gave mine about 15 minutes. With this next part, you'll need to work quickly, because the paste will thaw quicker than you'd think. Spread out some of the paste on the frozen chocolate part. The first couple of wafers I tried using another stencil, but that didn't end up working well. Just try to get the plain paste as round as possible. Make sure it's thin too. The thicker it is, the harder it is to bake without burning the edges.
By the time you get done, the chocolate will probably be thawed. Just in case, you might want to let it sit at room tempurature for a few more minutes. Then go ahead and toss it in that 350F oven. You'll want to bake it until it just starts to get brown around the edges. This usually takes me about 8 minutes, give or take. Then pull it from the oven and use a large offset spatula to scrape the wafers away from the Silpat. If you used parchment paper for this, you're about to find out why I told you to use Silpat instead. It doesn't release from parchment very well.
Toss it back in the oven for another 2 minutes, or until the wafers are golden brown. This is another part where you're going to need to work quickly. As soon as you pull the pan from the oven, you need to get any wafer shaping done immediately. In fact, as soon as a wafer leaves the Silpat, you have only a few seconds to shape it before it gets brittle. While the wafers are on the Silpat, you have somewhere around a minute to a minute and a half to shape them. This is the biggest reason why you usually want to stick with only 6 at a time. I decided to shape some of my wafers by placing them over a spice tin.
This forms the wafer into a kind of cup, that you can then fill with all sorts of goodies: mousse, berries, that sort of thing. Just remember, it will get soggy easily, so don't fill it until just before you serve it. I realized while my wafers were in the oven that I had actually spread out my Gnome logo so that it would end up backwards. Keep in mind that if you go for the two-color approach like I did, the bottom of the wafer will be the part you look at, not the top. So in the best interest of keeping the Gnome logo looking right, I reversed the next image:
I had a little chocolate hippen paste left over, so I decided to demonstrate one more technique. Spread out a long band of hippen paste, and toss it in the oven. Bake it as you would normally, including scraping it away from the Silpat and baking for another couple of minutes.
When it comes out the second time, hurry and wrap it around something round. Mine was big enough that I just wrapped it around my rolling pin. Normally you would probably do a smaller band, and then wrap it around the handle of a wooden spoon or something. Again, work quickly because you only have a few precious seconds before it snaps from trying to form it.
When it's cooled, go ahead and pull it off of the rolling pin, wooden spoon or whatever you formed it around.
Here's the thing about hippen paste. It's not really the sort of thing that you would serve by itself. You wouldn't just pull out a plate full of Christmas hippen wafers when family or friends show up. Well, you could, but it might be a little odd. This stuff is really good for garnish. If you do the little twist around the wooden spoon, then you can lay it up against a plated dessert. If you did the cup, you can fill it with something. It'll take some experimentation, but you'll be able to figure out a few uses for it after a while. Heck, you could probably even make fortune cookies. It's your call.