Madeleines were made famous by a passage in Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust. I want to distance myself from the pretentious claim ‘I am baking a literary reference, don’t you see the significance?!’ and just tell you that I was looking up ‘tea party’ recipes and madeleines seemed to be the most enticing treat. It required an adventure! I had to actually seek out a scallop shell pan!
In the spirit of Proust however, I will share the passage:
“No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory – this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. … Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend it? … And suddenly the memory revealed itself.”
So there you. Maybe this recipe will call up all kinds of exciting involuntary memories for you as well.
Anyways, Madeleines are little french butter cakes that are served with tea. They are often flavored with lemon and feature a dense, soft inside with a very thin crust.
Petite Madeleines (as adapted from Bon Apeitit magazine)
2 free range eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 T. lemon juice
1 pinch salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
10 T. unsalted butter, melted but cool
1 T. butter for pan
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
With a mixer, beat eggs and sugar to combine. Don’t overmix. You will ruin everything. These are delicate little cookies. Be delicate. Add vanilla, lemon juice, peel, and salt until incorporated. Gradually add flour until blended. Finally, pour the melted butter in the mixture slowly. I find it useful to use a rubber spatula at this point to gently fold the butter in.
In the madeleine pan, rub the butter on each scallop shell. I know what you are thinking. Just use more butter for the pan. Don’t worry about it. These are butter cookies, after all. Gently spoon about one tablespoon of the mixture into shells. They don’t rise much so don’t worry about filling them too high.
Bake for 12-16 minutes or until golden on the edges. Cool in pan for 5ish minutes and gently remove with a spatula or butter knife. If you buttered the pan, this should be relatively easy
Finally, use a shaker or just your fingertips to add a light coating of powdered sugar to your treats. Serve with coffee or tea or munch on them between meals. 🙂 Go out and conjure up all those forgotten memories.