Monday, November 30, 2009

Scalloped deliciousness

"I raised to my lips a spoonful of the cake . . . a shudder ran through my whole body and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place."- Marcel Proust, Swann's Way

You've maybe seen them in local pastry shops, or even in little celophaned packets at Starbucks. The small, yellow, scalloped cookies. They have a nice buttery crisp at the edges, and often a hint of lemon when you bite into the spongy goodness. These are madeleines.

Madeleines are very simple, and therefore are very versatile. You can leave them plain, and have a small cookie akin to pound cake, or you can add lemon zest or even orange zest for a small burst of flavor. They also work well dipped in either dark or milk chocolate, adding something a little extra to the already wonderful flavor.

And now on to the recipe!

For these delightful treats, you will need:

2 large eggs
2/3 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of grated lemon peel (or orange peel)
1 pinch of salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
powdered sugar (optional)
1 madeleine baking pan*

*A note on the baking pan: In all likelihood, you don't have one yet. I didn't have one either until I decided to try to make these. If you have a kitchen supply store near you, they should have them, and if they don't, check online. It's relatively easy to find them.

To start, preheat your oven to 375F. Take your madeleine pan and generously smear butter into each of the little forms (I used a paper towel to do this, although you could likely use a basting brush as well if the butter is soft enough). Sprinkle flour on top of the butter. The butter will help the cookies brown, and the flour makes it easier to pop them out of the forms after baking.

Beat the eggs and 2/3 cup of sugar in a large bowl, just to blend. Add in the vanilla, lemon (or orange) peel, and salt. Once blended, add in the flour (be careful to add slowly, or you'll end up with flour all over the place). Once these ingredients are blended, add the cooled melted butter until blended (when I make these, the butter doesn't always blend in at first. I have found that if you let it set for about 10 minutes, the batter will soak the butter up, and you'll be good to go).

Once all your ingredients are mixed, spoon a small amount into each of the indentations. Make sure not to put too much batter in each indentation, this batter does sort of poof up a bit. Bake in the preheated oven until the visible parts of the cookies are a light golden brown, around 10-16 minutes, depending on what sized madeleine pan you're using (I used a small one, and it took about 13 minutes). Set the madeleine pan aside to cool for around 5 minutes, then gently pop the cookies out of the pan. Repeat the buttering and flouring of the cookie pan between each batch.

Once the cookies are cooled, you can sprinkle powdered sugar on them to garnish, or dip the ends in melted chocolate. If you're going to dip in chocolate, wait til the next day, since this will let some of the excess moisture evaporate from the cookie, and keeps them from getting too soggy once the chocolate is on.

In an airtight container, these should last at least a week before getting stale (if you can keep from eating them that long, that is.)


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