So it's the holiday season, and I'm finally home, which means that I'm not going to be far from my baking. While all of my blogosphere peers are busy cooking and baking up a whole holiday storm, I must limit myself to a few choice items to make, as not only is my family small (not enough people eating it means I'm eating too much of it!), but my time here is limited too. I was browsing around when the most enticing photograph of madeleines came across my screen and I decided that I must venture forth and make these pretty little French seashell-shaped cookie/cakes. The prep work that went into researching and getting ingredients for this recipe was a bit more than usual, but it wasn't really a tough recipe to execute by any means. The most important things I needed were madeleine pans (they have little seashell shaped molds on them… see below), coconut cream, and green tea matcha powder. I guess by now you must have guessed the three varieties of madeleines I attempted… original, coconut, and green tea flavored. Ah, but I have yet another trick up my sleeve… lemon glaze! :) These were really some amazing cookies, crunchy on the outside, soft and tender on the inside, and full of wonderful aroma and flavor. Best enjoyed fresh and still warm, they would be perfect with a cup of coffee or tea, any time of day. Enjoy!
3 large eggs, warmed to room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
2/3 cup granulated sugar (I used 1/2 cup, since I wanted to glaze the tops)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
(Optional additions – amount given for a for whole batch, adjust accordingly)
– For coconut madeleines: 3 tbsp coconut cream (the solid white kind, not the sugary translucent one), 3 tbsp shredded coconut.
– For green tea madeleines: 1 heaping tbsp of green tea matcha powder
– For lemon glaze: 3/4 cup powdered sugar, 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, 1 tbsp water (adjust as needed to obtain desired consistency)
1. Melt butter on medium heat in a small saucepan, and boil until butter turns into a light brown, stirring constantly. This may take about 5 minutes or so. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature while you continue with the recipe. This step is called making "brown butter", and what you get is a melted butter that is brown in color, has a lot of small brown flecks, and smells deliciously like toffee. Mmm…
2. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, and coconut flakes or matcha powder if making flavored madeleines.
3. With an electric mixer, beat together eggs and sugar on medium-high speed, until the mixture becomes pale and frothy and triples in volume (about 5 minutes). When you lift the beaters thick ribbons will fall from them and sit on top of the mixture for several seconds before disappearing. Add in vanilla and almond extracts, and beat on medium just to combine with egg mixture.
4. Add a small amount of the flour mixture into the beaten eggs, and fold in gently with a wooden spoon. Add the remaining flour in 3 batches, folding in each time just until incorporated. Do not over-work the batter or the madeleines will become tough.
5. Now stir a little bit of the batter into the cooled brown butter, then add the butter into the batter in 3 batches. Again stir just until incorporated. (At this point, you may add the coconut cream and stir in until evenly distributed if desired.) Pictured below are regular, green tea, and coconut madeleine batter, respectively.
6. Cover and refrigerate batter for at least 30 minutes (up to 12 hours).
7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease two 12-mold madeleine pans with butter and dust with flour, or spray molds with cooking spray, or simply use non-stick pans. (I bought non-stick pans, but I also sprayed on some butter-flavored cooking spray).
8. Remove batter from refrigerator and drop by tablespoonfuls into the center of each mold. Do not spread the batter out to fill the molds, just leave it mounded in the centers and it will spread out on its own. In doing so, you are also able to create the classic "hump" on the backs of the madeleines that make them so unique.
9. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the sides start to turn golden brown and just begin to pull away from the sides, or when the tops spring back to the touch. I was able to just tilt my pan and watch all the beauties slip out onto my cooling rack. If you didn't use non-stick, try rapping the baking sheet against the counter to loosen the madeleines.
10. While the madeleines are cooling, stir together all the ingredients for the lemon glaze. After the cookies finish cooling, drizzle a thin layer of glaze on each cookie, and set flat and upright on cooling rack to allow glaze to harden (keeping the madeleines from tilting can be tricky, especially with that hump on the back, so try your best with the balancing act. It's not that big of a deal.) You can also serve these with a dusting of powdered sugar, or drizzled with chocolate or with the tips dipped in chocolate. But whatever you do, be sure to try one fresh out of the oven without any toppings, just to get a feel for the amazing crunchy exterior and the fluffy soft interior, as well as the decadent buttery flavor. Just heavenly…
Finally, the original flavor was of course quite wonderful as well, though it definitely needed the glaze to give it an extra push. The hint of lemon and the added sweetness of the glaze gave is a wonderful finish with every bite. Of course, in anticipation of the glazing, I did reduce the sugar in the original recipe from 2/3 cup to 1/2 cup. Thus, if you are just making unglazed madeleines, make sure you use the full amount of sugar to get enough sweetness. These are best eaten the day they're made, otherwise they will lose some of their wonderful crispiness. Of course, by the second day, they're also fantastic for dunking in coffee or tea :) I'm planning to make a batch of coconut and green tea madeleines to bring to a Christmas dinner party tomorrow. I hope everyone else will love them as much as I do!
Happy holidays everyone!