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. . . .
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.
— Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past. (English translation, C. K. Scott-Moncrieff. London: Chatto and Windus, 1922)
This passage from Proust, perhaps the most famous words in all of French literature, has made these delicate little cakes immortal.
But I will confess that it’s not dunked in tea that I prefer nibbling madeleines. I’m more likely to be sipping a glass of Cognac or a chocolate martini when I enjoy them.
Undoubtedly though, there’s always a certain je ne sais quoi about biting into a madeleine. After all, a tiny cake that can inspire such revelations is definitely worth savoring.
These chocolate madeleines are a delicious take on the traditional vanilla or lemon ones. They might not trigger an involuntary memory, but they’ll surely make you reach for seconds… or even thirds.
Try them with this decadent chocolate-ginger martini with cayenne-spiked rim.
makes 1 dozen large madeleines
active time: 30 min
For the Madeleines
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa – sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- pinch sea salt
- 2 large eggs – at room temperature
- 1/3 cup organic sugar
- 1 tablespoon Godiva chocolate liqueur or Cognac
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the garnishes and equipment
- powdered sugar – sifted
- 1 non-stick Madeleine pan
- Wax paper or Silpat
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF (177ºC).
- Step 1: Melt butter in a small pan and transfer to a small bowl to cool. Very lightly brush the Madeleine mold with the melted butter, making sure butter doesn’t collect in the grooves, and dust with flour.
- Step 2: In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.
- Step 3: In a large bowl place the eggs. Whisk with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and thick (about 2 minutes). Slowly add the sugar, liqueur and vanilla and continue whisking at high speed until well incorporated.
- Step 4: Add half the flour mixture to the egg mixture. Fold it in carefully. Then add half the melted butter, folding carefully. Repeat again and fold until flour and butter have been just incorporated. Do not overmix.
- Step 5: Spoon the batter into the prepared mold. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and carefully invert onto a cooling rack lined with wax paper or Silpat. The Madeleines should pop right out. Once the Madeleines have cooled to room temperature, sprinkle them with the powdered sugar and serve.
- Cook’s note: The Madeleines are best eaten the day they’re made but will store up to 2 days in a sealed container at room temperature.
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Disclaimer: As always, my point of view is my own. I do not accept samples, and have no commercial relationship with any product, food or wine company.