Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Making Madeleines can be an intimidating experience if you have ever read Proust’s vivid and alluring description of these “squat, plump little cakes” which he gives in “Remembrance of Things Past.” If there is a way to make love to food through the written word, then his descriptive ecstasy of tasting the cookie for the first time after it has been dipped in a cup of tea is the best example I have ever seen. Needless to say, his prose makes me want to go out and buy every Madeleine in Paris. His description also sets the bar for great writing. Let me just say that if I could write half as well as him, I would be ecstatic.
So, having read Proust and despite many trips to Paris, I had oddly never had a Madeleine in my life until after my son was born. We had a wonderful nanny who would take our boy to Starbucks and buy him a package of the Madeleines that they have sitting in a basket at the register at pretty much every Starbucks in the country. I think this was the first cookie he ever tasted and ever since then, he has loved them more than any other dessert I make.
Note: I am not into playing trucks, I stink at hide and seek, I sneeze uncontrollably at the sight of a campground and rough housing, football, basketball and any other activity that involves person to person contact would involve a ruined manicure which is just not cool. However, I am a big believer that a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and I believe that also applies to little boys who have mothers who are a little too girly. Since I am not good with the boy stuff, I show my love through cooking and having him help me cook. It is not the typical way to bond with a son but it works for us. Enjoy! Xo - AJ
This recipe is adapted from "Baking, From my home to yours" by Dorie Greenspan.
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 tablespoons salted butter, melted and cooled
Pinch of kosher salt
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
Rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the eggs to the bowl and beat the eggs and sugar together until pale, think and light, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. With a rubber spatula, very gently fold in the dry ingredients, followed by the melted butter. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the mixture and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or for up to 2 days.
Preheat the over to 400 degrees F. Butter and flour 12 full size madeleine molds and place the molds on a sheet pan.
Spoon the batter into the molds filling each one almost to the top. The batter will spread evenly when they bake. Bake the madeleines for 11 to 13 minutes or until they are golden and spring back to the touch. Remove the pan from the oven and release the madeleines from the molds by rapping the edge of the pan using your fingers or a butter knife. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool.