Today’s post is brought to you by my love of madeleines. Madeleines, if you don’t know of them, are little lemon-scented cake-like cookies. They are traditionally baked in special pans that give them a shell form. They are simple and yet elegant. I like to make them plain or with half dipped in chocolate. Either way, they are winners.
The batter for madeleines is supposed to rest in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before you bake them. And, you can keep the batter in the fridge for at least 2 days. This makes them nice and easy to have on hand for unexpected guests or unexpected cravings. When I want to dip them in chocolate, I just melt some chocolate chips, dip the madeleines in, and then cool on a piece of wax paper. Easy and quick and show-stopping. Seriously. People love them. I love them. Personally, I could eat them every day with my tea.
The writer Marcel Proust made madeleines famous as evocative of childhood memories in his book, Remembrance of Things Past (or In Search of Lost Time). The main character takes a bite of a madeleine as an adult and is overtaken by the memory of the madeleines he ate in childhood–when they were given to him by his aunt after she dipped them in her tea (actually a lime-blossom tisane). Because of Proust, madeleines can be described as “cookies with the greatest literary clout.” (quote is from:”Fare of the Country; of Madeleines and Memories,” by Patricia Wells).
The history of madeleines and their name is much debated. They are said to be named after some Madeleine or another. In one story, the Madeleine was a young servant girl who made the cookies to lift the spirits of the deposed Polish King Slanislas Leszcznski, who went to France to seek refuge there. Another version has a different Madeleine baking them for pilgrims who came to pay their respects at the burial site of Saint James (Saint Jacques) in Spain. The scallop shell, on which the the shape of madeleines is based, is the traditional symbol of Saint James (Jacques).
This recipe for madeleines is adapted from Paris Sweets: Great Desserts from the City’s Best Pastry Shops, by Dorie Greenspan–one of my baking goddesses. It’s a lovely and simple recipe. It requires the use of a madeleine pan in order to give them their distinctive shell shape.
Classic Madeleines, Gluten-Free
-adapted from Paris Sweets, by Dorie Greenspan
Special Equipment Needed
Note: This recipe uses my gluten-free flour mix:
Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix (mix together and store in a cool, dark place):
1 1/4 C (170g) brown rice flour
1 1/4 C (205g) white rice flour
1 C (120g) tapioca flour
1 C (165g) sweet rice flour (also known as Mochiko)
2 scant tsp. xanthan gum
(you can also use the gluten-free flour mixture (not baking mix) of your choice–just be sure it contains xanthan gum. Or, you can add 1/4 tsp. xanthan gum per cup of gluten-free flour. If you use bean flour, it will add a bean taste to the madeleines)
3/4 C (105g) Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix
1/2 tsp baking powder
5 TBL (70g) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 large or extra large eggs, room temperature
1/2 C (95g) granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Optional: 1/2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted to dip cookies in
extra melted butter and tapioca flour for pans
In a small bowl, mix together flour and baking soda, set aside.
In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and the sugar until they are light in color and have thickened–3-4 minutes. Beat in vanilla and lemon zest. With a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture, then fold in the butter.
Cover the batter with plastic wrap, making sure the wrap touches the surface of the batter to create an airtight seal. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. Chilling helps the batter develop the characteristic crown, known as the “hump” or “bump.” You can keep the batter chilled in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
When you’re ready to bake the madeleines, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Brush melted butter on the madeleine molds and dust with tapioca flour, tapping out the excess. Fill each mold with batter, stretching it so it covers the length of each mold. Don’t worry about smoothing out the batter–it will become even as it bakes.
Bake for about 11-12 minutes–until the underside is golden brown and the tops spring back when you touch them. Remove cookies from the molds onto a wire cookie sheet to cool completely.
For chocolate-dipped cakes:
-melt about 1/2 C of chocolate chips in a double boiler until just melted
-take the pan off of the heat and tip to the side, so the chocolate pools to one area
-dip half of each cookie lengthwise in the chocolate and put on wax paper to cool completely
Makes about 20-24 cookies
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