Saturday, February 21, 2009

snowy day Madeleines…

All day I watched the snow falling.
It continued drifting and sifting outside my window, coating the trees and the nearly frozen creek with a perfect blanket of confectionery white. It was as though a deranged baker went happily mad with his stash of powdered sugar.

The powdery snow made me crave a sweet vanilla cake, covered with snow-like powdered sugar. My favorite tiny vanilla cake has always been the French Madeleine.

OK, I have a very active imagination and easily influenced, especially when it comes to sweets.

Madeleines are perhaps most famous outside France for their association with involuntary memory in the Marcel Proust novel, À la recherche du temps perdu (Remembrance of Things Past), in which the narrator experiences an awakening upon tasting a madeleine dipped in tea:

“She sent out for one of those short, plump little cakes called petites madeleines, which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim's shell. And soon, mechanically, weary after a dull day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake.

No sooner had the warm liquid, and the crumbs with it, touched my palate than a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place…at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory…”

But, I was not the large-near-natural seashell size Madeleine that I so often purchase from Fauchon when I am in Paris…


I wanted the tiny, pop-in-your-mouth instant gratification in-one-single-bite petit Madeleines covered with snowy confectioners’ sugar. So, I pulled out my new petit Madeleine pan and got to work.
I hope you enjoy this simple and elegant recipe for mouth-watering sweet, (but not too sweet) mini-cakes that are perfect with a cup of hot tea on snowy day.

Snowy Day Vanilla Bean Madeleines
(Adapted from a recipe in Ina Garten’s, Barefoot in Paris )

1 1/2 tablespoons melted Butter, to grease the pans

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted Butter, melted and cooled

3 extra-large Eggs, room temperature

2/3 cup Sugar

1 ½ teaspoon pure Vanilla Extract

the scrapings of one whole Vanilla Bean

1 cup all-purpose Flour

1/4 cup Cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher Salt

Confectioners' Sugar


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Thoroughly butter and flour the Madeleine pans.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed for 3 minutes, or until light yellow and fluffy.

Add 1/4 pound of butter and mix.

Sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt, and stir into the batter with a rubber spatula.

I found that refrigerating the batter for 20 minutes before filling the Madeliene pans (and between each batch) makes it much easier to portion the batter into the petite Madeline pans.

With a teaspoon, drop the refrigerated batter into the pans, filling each shell almost full.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until they spring back when pressed.

Tap the Madeleines out onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper and allow to cool.

Then dust them with Vanilla confectioners' sugar (see recipe below).

This recipe makes about 100 petit Madeleines (or about 45 of the larger size if you must).

vanilla confectioners sugar

In a sugar shaker combine powdered sugar with a vanilla bean pod that I had been previously scraped of the seeds for perhaps another recipe.

Dry the vanilla bean well so that it is brittle and break it into 1-inch pieces.

I let mine sit in a dry place in my kitchen (on top the stove) for a few days.
When it is brittle, add these vanilla bean pieces to the confectioners’ sugar.

Let this mixture sit for at least a week or longer and you will be rewarded with confectioners’ sugar that is deliciously perfumed with vanilla that has many uses.


5 Star Foodie said...

These look wonderful!

Phil Lowe said...

You know how much I love madeleines Terrie. i normally introduce almond essence in mine. must try vanilla next time. I also made a big batch on Saturday too! How strange is that? They will last me all week in the sealed tubs I put them in.

Peter said...

Your small madeleines really look excellent! I quite like also the Spanish magdalenas, quite different, but nice for breakfast! I wonder why they got the same name.

chez aurora said...

Hi Terrie, love your snowy day post, what a cozy comforting way to spend the day! It's a coincidence you posted this ... I was just in Wm. Sonoma looking for a madeleine pan (I didn't see any!) Thanks for your recipe, will try them someday!


Terence said...

Lovely. The "snow dusted" madeleines are presaged by the snowy scene outside.


jeanette mistress of longears said...

It's been too long since I made them!