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Thursday, April 22, 2010

I don’t remember my first madeleine, I just remember I was sold. They are a small, moist, not very sweet, sponge-like-cake treat. They originate from the Lorraine region in northeastern France and date back to the 18th century. What makes it a madeleine is the shell shape. It is baked in a mold that creates shell-shaped depressions.

Christmas a few years back I received a madeleine pan as a gift from my mom, (I usually request kitchen items for gifts.) I’ve only used it a couple of times and I thought I’d bring it out again and share madeleines with you. The ingredients are simple; just an eggs, butter, flour and sugar batter, but it can seem complicated to make. There are a few steps in making them, but it is worth it. There is only one down side to madeleines and that is they are so light and yummy you wind up eating way more than you intended to. I won’t even tell you how many pizzelle I ate in one sitting.

I used a basic madeleine recipe and added lemon zest. You can be as creative as you want with these. Add cocoa powder, dip then in chocolate, add any flavorings, even nuts and coconut can be added. You will need a madeleine mold to make these. You can find them at almost any kitchen supply store. I also promise this is the last of my specialized bakeware that will be needed for my desserts; unless you count a tart pan special. I won’t make any promises on future purchases or gifts.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter melted
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
3 large eggs at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp lemon zest (optional)

Makes 24 madeleines.

You don’t need to preheat the oven because the batter needs to be refrigerated.

First, melt the butter and allow it to cool while you make the batter.

In a small bowl add the flour, baking powder and salt and whisk until well blended.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar at medium-high speed until the mixture has tripled in volume (about 5 minutes).  Add the vanilla extract and lemon zest and beat until just combined.

Sift a small amount of flour over the egg and sugar mixture and fold it in using a large rubber spatula.  Sift the rest of the flour over the egg mixture and fold in being sure not to over mix or the batter will deflate. It’s okay if there is still some flour left to be folded in, you fold in the butter next.

Whisk a small amount of the egg and sugar mixture into the melted butter. Then fold in the cooled melted butter in three additions.  Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer until the batter is slightly firm.

Preheat to 375° F. Generously butter two madeleine pans.  Dust the molds with flour and tap out the excess.  (I used a non-stick pan and sprayed in cooking spray and dusted it with flour. Since I only have one pan I didn’t do this the second time around.)

Drop a generous tablespoonful of the batter into the center of each “shell” in the mold, leaving the batter mounded in the center.  (This will result in the classic bump in the middle of the madeleines.)

Bake the madeleines for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges are golden brown and the centers spring back when lightly touched.  Don’t over bake these cookies or they will be dry.

Remove the pans from the oven and let cool for five minutes. Remove the madeleines and transfer smooth side down to wire racks.  The madeleines are best served the same day but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 to 3 days or frozen, well wrapped, for up to 1 month.

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