There are two things I can’t get enough of: good food, and good books. I go to a Great Books college, so chances are if I’m not at work or in the kitchen I’m reading. Every book nerd has a favorite literary recipe. For some it’s Green Eggs & Ham, for others it’s Turkish Delight or a clam chowder worthy of Captain Ahab. Mine, is a bit on the pretentious side. I love madeleines. I have to say, however, that Proust has almost nothing to do with my love of these cookie-cake half-breeds.
Like Proust, biting into a madeleine brings back memories of my childhood. But, unlike Proust, I’ve never launched into an epic, whiney self pity party after eating one of these. Instead, madeleines make me think of one of my best friends (my sister-from-another-mister), Kelsey. We’ve been friends since the sixth grade. We studied French together, went to Paris together, and embarked on more than a few culinary adventures together. We’ve never actually made madeleines together, but they are a staple of every tea party we’ve had together (and yes, we have tea parties. You jealous?).
So, because I miss her so much (and because I can’t wait for her to visit me next month), I present to you…
Madeleines À La Kelsey
1 cup sugar
The grated zest of 1 lemon
2 1/4 cups flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 Tbsp butter, softened
1/3 cup milk
Softened butter and flour for madeleine molds
Yeah, you’re gonna need a madeleine mold for this one. There’s kinda no avoiding it, the classic madeleine shape is half of the experience. I bought a silicone mold and on the box it said that you don’t have to butter or flour the cups. I didn’t trust it so I buttered and floured the mold for the first batch I made. I tried baking the second batch without greasing the mold. The box did not lie! So, if you’re using a metal pan, make sure you butter and flour the mold so that your madeleines can pop out easily and beautifully. But if you’re using a silicone mold, you can skip that step.
Combine the sugar and eggs in a bowl and beat with a whisk or electric mixer until pale yellow and creamy. Add the zest and vanilla. Take a big whiff, this is my favorite part of making madeleines. The smell when the lemon and vanilla combine with the eggs and sugar is phenomenal! Add the flour and baking powder and beat until blended. Beat in the softened butter, and then the milk. Set the batter aside and let it rest for about 15 minutes.
While that’s resting, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
If you have a pastry bag, fit a plain pastry tip onto it and fill the bag with the madeleine batter. If, like me, you don;t have a pastry bag, don’t sweat it. Take a zippy sandwich bag, fill it with madeleine batter, and snip off one of the bottom corners of the bag. Problem solved!
Pipe the batter into the madeleine molds, filling to just under the rim. Bake until golden, somewhere between 12 and 15 minutes.
Unmold the madeleines immediately onto a cooling rack and make sure you let them cool completely. They will smell amazing and you will want to eat them right away. Be patient, they’re worth not burning your mouth.
I love to eat madeleines with a nice hot cup of Harney & Sons Paris tea blend. But they’re great unaccompanied. This recipe makes about 3 dozen madeleines so make sure you’ve got people to share them with. Or not. Treat yo’ self.