Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mad for madeleines.

I often see madeleines sold in bakeries or at cafes, wrapped, usually in twos, in clear cellophane bags.  They look so delicate and special, almost precious, which always made me curious about them.  They aren't shaped like the average cookie, but are like sea shells on one side with a dimple (or zit) on the other.  I have to admit there is an appeal to the idea of sipping tea while taking bites out of these dainty cookies, and honestly, my weakness is anything cute (which these cookies are).

Deciding to do a little baking today, when it comes to pastries, my heart is still in Paris.  I bought a mini-madeleine pan some months ago and have been itching to try a madeleine recipe out. 

After making financiers, I thought these would be similarly easy to make.  I soon found out that getting the batter to perfectly bake into the mold and achieving the dimple on each cookie were trickier than it looked.  Estimating the right amount of batter for each mold took several tries, and I was only able to get the slightest dimple by baking them on the top third rack of the oven.  But I also missed the instruction to freeze the pan after brushing each mold with butter and dusting them with flour, which could have helped produce the elusive dimple.  My madeleines may not look as perfect as the ones from the bakeries and cafes, but the taste and texture were pretty close.

Orange Madeleines
makes about 54 mini madeleines
adapted from David Lebovitz's The Sweet Life in Paris

Butter and flour the molds of the madeleine pan (and put in freezer until ready to bake).

1.  Melt 8 T. of unsalted butter, and cool to room temperature.

2.  Grate the zest of one orange.

3.  In a mixing bowl, whip the following until frothy and thick, approximately 5 minutes:
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 2/3 cup sugar

4.  Sift and fold by hand into the batter in #2:
- 1-1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 t. baking powder

5.  Add orange zest to the melted butter, then spoon the butter into the batter, folding the batter to just incorporate the butter after each few spoonfuls.  

6.  Cover the mixing bowl and refrigerate the batter for at least one hour (and up to 12 hours).

7.  When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425F degrees.  Scoop out batter into each mold--this should be enough to fill into the mold when baking, but do not spread the batter.  

8.  For mini-madeleines, bake on the upper third rack of the oven for approximately 6 minutes until light brown and slightly firm.