How to make magical madeleines
The recipe is a surprisingly simple cake batter – the only trick is to beat the eggs for long enough so that they incorporate plenty of air, and then to chill the batter for a few hours before baking. And yet when it comes to taste, these pastries are right up there with macarons, eclairs and other more elaborate creations.
There are many different variations on the basic madeleine recipe. Some call for honey, browned butter, lemon rind or various other flavours. I have opted for an almond flavoured madeleine but you can experiment by adding other flavours instead of the ground almonds.
Ingredients (makes about 18 madeleines):
1 cup cake flour
2 tbsp ground almonds
1/4 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
140g unsalted butter, melted and cooled for a minute or two
You will also need:
1. Grind the flour and the almonds together in your food processor (if you have one), to make sure the flour is nice and fine.
2. Beat the eggs, yolks and sugar together until the mixture is pale yellow and fluffy – this will be about 1 minute if you are using a stand mixer on low or about 3 minutes by hand.
3. Gently fold in the flour, almonds, baking powder and salt.
4. Add the melted butter and vanilla extract.
5. Refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight if possible.
6. Preheat your oven to 180°C.
7. Butter and flour your madeleine pan, then fill the shell shapes with batter.
8. Bake for about 8 minutes or until the centres are puffed up.
9. Invert the pan onto a cooling rack. You don’t need to wait for the cookies to cool in the pan.
10. Repeat steps 7-9 until all your batter has been used.
If you were wondering who first decided to give Madeleine cookies a makeover with a shell shaped mould, the answer is not entirely clear. Some people speculate that it started when the cookies were given as souvenirs to pilgrims in Santiago de Compostella, the reported final resting place of St James. The pilgrims often wore cockle shells around their necks because the shells were found in the place where St James’s body was brought ashore.
Whatever the reason, these cookies are certainly pretty to look at and tasty to eat. With some cute packaging, they could make great gifts this festive season. That is, if you manage not to eat them all before you wrap them! Happy madeleine making, friends.