No Dessert for Me, Please: Madeleine Recipe
I seem to have misplaced my sweet tooth. I don’t know where it went, but I recall it leaving me about three or four years ago. I just stopped wanting sweets in general. I must admit, this isn’t a great loss—in fact, it’s rather lucky. Not craving desserts or sweets is an easy way to cut out extra calories. I am the last person to save room for dessert or spend my money that way. As my mother said, “I’d rather have more food than dessert”. Hear, hear.
The only disadvantage I have noted is I never think about making dessert when having a dinner party. I forget that most people are rather addicted to sugar and simply need their dessert. I personally would be happy to end things with a cheese plate. Apparently, I am fairly alone in this camp, at least on this side of the globe. In France, thankfully I fit it just fine. As a result, I am often scrambling last minute to think up some kind of sweet treat that I can whip up with items already in my pantry, and mighty quick at that. I have a couple of go-to recipes that bore me now. So I needed something new.
I recently read a little article about madeleines and it reminded me of my renewed opinion on the subject. Up until a few years ago, I found them dull, dry and generally disappointing. But after a lunch at La Mère Brazier in Lyon with mes copines Canadiennes I was converted. We had a prix fixe 3-course lunch where none of us ordered dessert. We did, however, order coffee, and with it arrived a large assortment of unrequested sweets. Dutifully we all tucked in so as not to offend the chef (who is a Meilleur Ouvrier de France, and you really don’t want to piss one of those guys off…). One of the items was a piping hot honey and fromage blanc madeleine. It was miraculous: crispy on the outside, light, fluffy and moist on the inside. It was like no madeleine I had ever tried and I have now given this understated little cake a second chance. While I still don’t like dessert after a meal, this little pillow is perfect for coffee in the morning or an afternoon cup of tea. But it’s also ideal for dinner parties. You can whip up the batter in advance and bake these puppies off last minute. How easy and how perfect for those of us not willing to spend our time or energy creating desserts we have no interest in actually eating. Served with a little ice cream on the side, c’est magnifique. Give them a whirl!
A quick and easy dessert. Baked off fresh right before serving is best and easy to do. This recipe is courtesy of Daniel Boulud printed in Bon Appetit (February 2015), but I added a little vanilla. I love vanilla... and I think it makes it just that much tastier. I found this recipe made 22-24 regular size madeleines.
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup all-purpose our, plus more for dusting
2 large eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon or orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla paste* (if you have, if not any good quality vanilla)
6 tablespoons (3⁄4 stick) unsalted butter, melted, warm
Nonstick vegetable oil spray or softened butter
Special Equipment: Three 20-cake mini madeleine pans or two 12-cake regular madeleine pans.
Whisk baking powder, salt and our in a small bowl.
Whisk eggs, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, honey and lemon zest in a medium bowl until smooth. Whisk in dry ingredients until just incorporated, then whisk in melted butter until smooth. Transfer batter to a pastry bag or resealable plastic bag and chill at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400°. Lightly coat madeleine pans with nonstick vegetable oil spray (or soft butter) and dust with our, tapping out excess. Snip end off pastry bag (or 1 corner of a resealable bag) and pipe batter into each mould, filling two-thirds full.
Bake madeleines until edges are golden brown and centers are puffed and lightly spring back when gently pressed, about 5 minutes for mini and 8−10 minutes for regular cakes.
Tap pan against the counter to release madeleines. Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm.
The batter can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.
* Vanilla paste is essentially a small jar of scraped-out vanilla pod, so you get the benefit and potency of fresh vanilla with a pretty speckled end product.