Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Je t'aime, Madeleine!

I have always felt that I must have some type of French ancestry somewhere since I love all things French. I love their food, lifestyle, wine, literature. I have been fortunate enough to visit Paris three times, and let me tell you, I can go there a hundred more. I miss the bustling city, the metro, the endless number of crepe stands, the open markets, the cafes...I really could go on. Every time I have been to Paris, I am always in search for the most yummy (or yummiest, if you prefer) madeleine cookies. The soft cake-like texture and their buttery sweetness make it one of my favorite desserts (well, let's be honest, they're really a snack for me). As mentioned before I received a madeleine cookie pan for Christmas and I finally was able to use them yesterday. I made about 20 cookies, all now waiting to be eaten by me with a cafe au lait in hand! They came out pretty good for a first attempt...not as pillowy soft as the ones I buy. However, they will fix the craving.

recipe copied directly from 101 Cookbooks.com

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (6 ounces)
2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter (for greasing pan)
3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
a pinch fine-grain sea salt
2/3 cups sugar
zest of one large lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
powdered sugar
a bit of extra flour for dusting baking pan

Special equipment: A madeleine baking pan, regular or small

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Melt the 1 1/2 sticks of butter in a small pot over medium heat until it's brown and gives off a deliciously nutty aroma, roughly 20 minutes. Strain (using a paper towel over a mesh strainer) - you want to leave the solids behind. [**NOTE: I did this and it didn't really strain...so I ended up just skimming the solids out with a spoon] Cool the butter to room temperature. By doing the butter first you can complete the rest of the steps while it is cooling.

While the melted butter is cooling, use the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to grease the madeleine molds - get in there and make sure you get in all the ridges. Dust with flour and invert the pan tapping out any excess flour. Lanha uses "cooking spray" with flour to simplify this part.
Put the eggs with the salt in the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment. Whip on high speed until thick - you are looking for the eggs to roughly double or triple in volume - approximately 3 minutes. Continuing to mix on high speed, slowly add the sugar in a steady stream. Whip for 2 minutes or until mixture is thick and ribbony. Now with a spatula fold in the lemon zest and vanilla (just until mixed). Sprinkle the flour on top of the egg batter, and gently fold in. Now fold in the butter mixture. Only stirring enough to bring everything together.

Spoon the batter into the molds, filling each mold 2/3 –3/4 full. I use a small cup filled with batter to keep things clean and manageable, it is easier than using a spoon.
Bake the madeleines for 12 - 14 minutes (7-10 minutes for smaller cookies), or until the edges of the madeleines are golden brown. Remove from oven and unmold immediately. Cool on racks and dust with powdered sugar.
(Makes 2 -3 dozen regular madeleines)

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