I love France, and I love cookies, and I’m extremely happy that the two come together in the form of plump, buttery madeleines.
Sadly my two days spent in Paris, while remembered with much fondness, were not synonymous with traditional French food. When we weren’t being forced to eat American food because our teachers thought we couldn’t handle anything else, we sought out cheap treats like banana nutella crêpes.
What we should have done was heed Proust’s musings and headed straight for a pâtisserie in search of the city’s finest petites madeleines.
This delicious pastry is baked in a mold shaped like the shell of a scallop*. The thick silky batter yields beautifully golden madeleines with a delicate yellow crumb, subtly perfumed with orange zest. For a touch of glamour, I dipped half the batch in chocolate ganache. C’est magnifique!
Ganache-Dipped Orange Madeleines [makes 2 dozen]
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 c granulated sugar [I used 1/3 c turbinado + 1/3 c white sugar]
1 1/4 c AP flour
1 t baking powder
rounded 1/8 t salt
9 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature, plus more [about 1 T] for preparing the molds
zest of 1 small orange
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 t almond extract
chocolate ganache [I halved this huge recipe and still had leftovers -- never a bad thing!]
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the eggs and sugar for 5 minutes until frothy and thickened. Spoon the flour, baking powder and salt into a sifter or mesh strainer, and use a spatula to fold in the flour as you sift it over the batter.
Add the orange zest, vanilla and almond extract to the cooled butter; stir to combine. Dribble the butter into the batter a few spoonfuls at a time, while simultaneously** folding to incorporate the butter. Fold just until all the butter is incorporated. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour [for a poofier madeleine, chill at least 3 hours and up to overnight -- mine sat overnight].
To bake the madeleines, preheat the oven to 350° F. Brush the indentations of madeleine mold with melted butter [yes, even if you have a nonstick!]. If using a pan that’s not nonstick, brush with melted butter and then dust with flour, tapping off any excess. Place the prepared pan immediately into the freezer to set the butter, at least 5 minutes.
Plop batter in the center of each indentation to fill them 3/4 full. Do not spread the batter.
Bake 10-11 minutes or until the cakes just feel set. Remove from the oven and tilt the madeleines out onto a cooling rack. Best served warm from the oven, but will keep in a tupperware container on the counter for a few days if they last that long. If desired, dip half of each madeleine in chocolate ganache and let set a few minutes before eating.
*Ironically — and completely unplanned — supper was jumbo sea scallops followed by the madeleines as dessert. Ha!
**If doing by hand with a spatula, it’s nice to have a helper adding the butter while you hold the bowl with one hand and fold with the other. Obviously this is not always an option, so there are two options: 1) Put the bowl back on the stand mixer and attach the paddle. Dribble the butter in by hand while the mixer runs on the lowest speed; or 2) Stabilize your bowl by rolling a kitchen towel up into a log, wrapping it into a coil as wide as the bowl’s base, then setting the bowl onto it to nest it in place. Dribble with one hand and fold with the other!