The term “galette” has about ten thousand meanings. At its most basic it is “a flat, round cake of variable size” and there are dozens of regional French variations, some savoury, some sweet. In contemporary bakeries a galette is a type of pie that is shaped and baked on a sheet tray instead of in a traditional pie dish. Here in Canada galette is also the Métis word for their style of bannock. In contemporary fine-dining a galette seems to be a preparation wherein some kind of creamy interior is sandwiched between a crispy cracker-like exterior, almost like an ice cream sandwich. The Fat Duck served a rhubarb galette matching this description. In the Eleven Madison Park cookbook there are two more examples, only they are miniaturized and presented on their sides so they are easy to pick up.
I love, love, love this idea. It is a simple twist on a canapé, but it looks so striking, and every time I see the picture I can imagine picking up the galettes and popping them into my mouth.
The two galettes in the EMP cookbook are:
- salmon tartare and horseradish cream between almond tuiles, and
- goat cheese and meyer lemon between cheese crackers.
It’s easy to see the versatility of this format. The cracker component could be any thin, crispy preparation you can imagine, from tuiles, to fricos, to crackers, possibly even sablés if they are thing enough(?), or perhaps even raw or pickled or dehydrated vegetables. The filling likewise could be almost anything, though I wonder if gelatin is important in having the cracker adhere to the filling. To me the big idea and the central concept is a new way to convey food to the mouth.
My first attempt, pictured above, is a simple variation on the Goat Cheese and Lemon Galette in the EMP cookbook (photo pg. 242, recipe 330). The filling is this cheese mousse set with gelatin, only using fromage blanc instead of goat cheese. The mousse was sliced and sandwiched between these cheese crackers. Instead of meyer lemon jam I used Ivanovka plum jam. Garnished with basil this was such a delicious and adorable amuse bouche. I have to admit that while mine were structurally sound they are not as precise and perfect as those in the EMP cookbook.
- It can be a little tricky to get the cracker to stick firmly to the filling. I always cut gelatin-set fillings with a knife dipped in hot water, and if you are assembling immediately after slicing the cracker will stick well to the slightly melted surface. If the filling is cut in advance and chilled, I use a butane torch to lightly warm the sides of the filling and melt the gelatin so the crackers stick.
- After assembly the crackers will slowly soften and lose their crispiness. This is mentioned in the EMP cookbook with regards to the salmon tartare version with the almond tuiles, but not the goat cheese and lemon version with the cheese crackers. The cheese crackers do also eventually get soft, so the galettes can generally not be made in advance.
- From the “Galette” entry in Larousse Gastronomique.