Make the Perfect Little Cheese Cups From a Shot Glass

About once a year, my mother and I traveled to Calistoga, California to drink wine, sink into the mud, and lie motionless on hotel beds. On the way back to my mother’s house in Sacramento, we often drive through Yountville to admire the pristine Stepford bougie. “There is a French laundry,” we say, not depressingly, but keenly aware of the fact that we will never eat in this dining room.

It suits us. Driving in The French Laundry has become something of a half joke / half tradition, so I wasn’t surprised when Mom sent me a TFL cookbook as a quarantine gift. It’s as inaccessible as you might think, almost odd; I think I said “in this economy ??” at least five times, leafing through it. There is a whole section devoted to truffles, and most of the recipes are prohibitively expensive for the average home cook. But, flipping through the Garden Canapes section, I saw a recipe for Parmesan chips and Reggiano with goat cheese mousse and thought, “Finally: what a normal person can do.”

Parmesan chips are not exactly a revolutionary concept, but I was intrigued by the “clean egg carton” that was listed as a must have. In the recipe, Thomas Keller instructs to “gently press each [crisp] into the indentation in the egg carton to form a tulip shape.” It’s a fairly straightforward route, although I’m not entirely sure how to keep their egg carton clean. (These things are very porous.) Instead of cleaning the egg carton, I decided to cover mine with plastic wrap. (I also tried this without plastic as a control. Plastic didn’t matter.)

To test this tip, I sprinkled a little more than a tablespoon of grated cheese into an inverted canning jar set inside a non-stick skillet (to keep the crisp nice and round). When the crisp was laced and, well, crispy, I removed it with my chopsticks, let it cool for the 30 seconds suggested by Keller, and then gently pressed it into one of the cavities of my (plastic-lined) egg carton. It worked fine, but there was a small hole at the bottom, although I pressed it very carefully.

I tried this three more times, the holes got bigger with each try, before I decided it was a bad move. But you know what is good for forming small cups? Small cups! Or, you know, glasses .

By placing the still warm cheese crunch on the shot glass, you let gravity do most of the work for you. Pressing gently on the sides of the crisp, rather than the center, will reduce the tendency to break and excess fat may drain from the glass onto a paper towel. In addition, the use of a shot glass will ensure that the bottom of the crisp is flat . (I’m not saying I can take over French Laundry, but I don’t think Keller would do my job well.)

So that’s all you need to do to shape the perfect crunchy cheese small cups. Toast about a tablespoon of cheese in an inverted ring jar, then, when completely lacy, place it over an upside-down shot glass set on top of a paper towel. If necessary, press down on the sides to form a cup, then let it cool completely. Fill with whatever you want. You can make goat cheese mousse or do the same as me and make a small slice of breakfast with a tiny sausage cutlet, a quarter of a boiled egg, a large goat cheese crumb, and one parsley leaf.

It’s almost a boogie bite, but delicious and at least doesn’t require any truffles.

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