Saturday, September 17, 2011

30 Before 30: Making Madeleines

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I'm not exactly sure how this obsession started. I've been aware of madeleines for quite some time. However, I think the first time I tried them was... from Target. No, no, you heard me right. With the bullseye and the dog. I know. It's weird. I mean... TARGET??? My typical Target was remodeled as their "P-Fresh" concept, which includes the fuller grocery section. One day, I noticed a little Archer Farms package of madeleines. Six little spongey shell-shaped confections squished in a plastic container. For some reason I just couldn't resist. I knew they wouldn't be the epitome of French pastry and they probably wouldn't be the ideal way to introduce myself to these little things but... I don't know. I had to do it. In my cart they went, and in my belly they were later. A few seconds in the microwave, a dip in some milk, et voila. It was a little bit magical. Ever since, I was determined to try making them myself.

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Knowing I would need the special pan, I had it on my Amazon wish list just for future reference. However, Martha Stewart must've read my mind (doesn't she always???) because madeleines were featured in the September issue. That was all the motivation I needed. I ordered the pan and once I had enough free time, I whipped up my first batch of batter.

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They were actually pretty easy. There's a lot of folding involved while you're mixing the batter, so you need some patience. You also have to plan ahead, as the batter needs to chillax in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Once you make the recipe, you'll understand why it needs the standing time. Between the six eggs and the two sticks of melted butter, there's a lot of fat and grease that needs to be absorbed in the dry ingredients. I made the batter Saturday night, wrapped the bowl in plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge until Sunday morning for some weekend morning delights.

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From Martha Stewart, Sept 2011 Issue

2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
6 large eggs, room temp
1 c granulated sugar
2 tbsp packed brown sugar (Martha says light, I used dark)
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted, plus more for buttering the pan (softened)
1 tbsp + 1 tsp honey
3/4 tsp vanilla extract

1. Whisk together dry ingredients—flour, baking powder, and salt—in medium bowl.
2. With an electric mixer on high speed, whisk together the eggs and sugars until pale and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Should be at the "ribbon" stage. For more info on this, check out the issue. The magazine has two pages of helpful tips that I'm sure I can't legally copy into this post. So just take my word for it. Check it out.
3. Sift in flour mixture in 2-3 additions, folding in after each addition. You have to fold the batter as opposed to stirring it to keep it the right consistency.
4. Fold in the melted butter, then honey & vanilla.
5. Refrigerate batter for at least 2 hours, and up to 2 days (covered, of course).
6. Preheat oven to 350°. Let batter stand at room temp for 10 minutes.
7. With a pastry brush, generously coat the pan with softened butter.
8. Scoop the batter into a pastry bag or plastic bag w/ the corner snipped (about a 1/2" opening). This is such an easy way to transfer the batter to the madeleine pan. Fill the molds 3/4 full. Trust me, they'll puff up.
9. Bake on the middle rack for 8-11 minutes, or until a pale golden.
10. Immediately shake the madeleines out of the pan onto a rack to cool. Wash the mold and repeat until all the batter is gone.
11. When cooled, sift with confectionary sugar, or top with a tasty glaze.

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Martha recipes crack me up b/c half the time I yield way more than the recipe says. The magazine says I should have 32 madeleines in the end. However, I ended up with 46. If you squeeze the piping bag right, you could probably get 48 for an even four dozen. Since I had so many, I jazzed a few up with different glazes! On the left, the standard madeleine sprinkled with confectionary sugar. Then, strawberry rose glaze. Next, salted maple vanilla bean glaze (a concoction using the surplus maple vanilla bean frosting used on bacon cupcakes for the wedding) topped with roasted pecans (a request from George), and then a straight-forward lemon glaze with lime zest (hey, I had them left from the wedding this weekend).

Strawberry Rose Glaze
2 tbsp strawberry puree
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp rose water
2-3 tbsp confectionary sugar
dash of heavy cream, if you have it

Combine all ingredients in a small wide bowl, mixing until uniform. Heat in the microwave for a few seconds to help, if need be (like 8-10 seconds). Dip madeleines in glaze when finished.

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