Madeleines Hate Me

A couple weeks back, I learned that the boyfriend's mom loves Madeleines. She is super nice and kind of gave birth to the man I heart. Of course I had to take a shot at making them! Besides, they're just cute little French dipping cookies- right? No problem!

Yah right. Madeleines are punks. These little sponge cakes hate me. I have attempted to make them about four times now. Issues include: lumpy flour, unmixed butter, and air bubbles. I followed this recipe exactly from 101 Cookbooks but was not thrilled with the results. I cannot let it go if it comes out wrong- I have to know WHY.

So I sifted the flour and added it in gradually, folding along the way. Add the butter in a few table spoons at a time or it will sink to the bottom, dead-center in some weird pocket. To eliminate the air bubbles, I tapped the pan on the side of the counter a few times.

Note: for butter to cool back to room temperature- you need about an hour! So do that first thing or you'll find yourself begging the eggs to stay fluffy.

In my quest to understand the Madeleine, I came upon several different methods. The use of baking soda is controversial; mix the butter in while it's hot and let it sit for 2 hours; orange zest; almond flour; dipped in chocolate; glazed. Oh, and there's this whole thing about them baking with a hump in the back vs. not. There are just too many ideas floating around for such a simple cookie!!

This recipe turned out well... after much anguish and swearing. The next time I make Madeleines, I'm going to try this one from David Lebovitz to see if there's a difference by cooling the batter.

Best served immediately. They get harder in 2-3 days but can be treated like biscottis.

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (6 ounces)
2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter (for greasing pan)
4 large eggs
a pinch fine-grain sea salt
2/3 cups sugar
zest of one large lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Makes 2 -3 dozen regular Madeleines.

Do ahead: melt the 1 1/2 sticks of butter in a small pot over medium heat until it's brown and gives off a deliciously nutty aroma, roughly 20 minutes. Strain (using a paper towel over a mesh strainer) - you want to leave the solids behind. Cool the butter to room temperature.

To grease the pan, use some non-stick spray with flour in it or the good ol butter/flour treatment. Get in those ridges! A cute cheat is to use the paper towel you used as a strainer because it's already soaked in butter.

Put the eggs with the salt in the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment. Whip on high speed until thick - you are looking for the eggs to roughly double or triple in volume - approximately 3 minutes. Continuing to mix on high speed, slowly add the sugar in a steady stream. Whip for 2 minutes or until mixture is thick and ribbony. Now with a spatula fold in the lemon zest and vanilla (just until mixed).

Sift the flour. Sprinkle the half of the flour on top of the egg batter, and gently fold in. Add the second half and repeat. Now fold in the butter mixture, a few tablespoons at a time. Only stir enough to bring everything together.

Spoon the batter into the molds, filling each mold 2/3 -3/4 full.

Bake the madeleines for 12 - 14 minutes (7-10 minutes for smaller cookies), or until the edges of the madeleines are golden brown. Remove from oven and unmold immediately. Cool on racks and dust with powdered sugar.