Friday, May 13, 2016

Orange Madeleines

What's not to love about a madeleine? Soft and buttery, light and moist, these airy little cakes are a blissful bite of magic. Can you tell that I'm a fan? Yes, a fan, but a very recent fan.

I sampled my first-ever madeleine last month, at home in my own kitchen. Some unremembered online post, or maybe a Pinterest pin or two, caught my fancy and prompted an Amazon purchase of nonstick madeleine pans. I've always thought of madeleines as fussy, intimidating cookies; difficult to master, even a bit daunting to attempt. Hey, they're French! Company in the kitchen would make the activity fun no matter what the results, so Hilary joined me for the baking adventure.   

We used the recipe that came on the pan's cardboard wrapper, but incorporated some tips from a Mark Bittman post. We rested the batter for an hour and chilled the pans and the batter, but ignored Bittman's caution to avoid overbeating the batter. Did it make a difference? Who knows, but our results were judged a 5-star delicious success by all taste testers. 

How could I have ignored these iconic French treats for so long? Sweet, but not too sweet. Crisp edges surrounded soft interiors. The citrus flavor was subtle but evident. These delicious little scallop-shaped cakes have shot to the top of my Favorite Sweets list, though we can't wait to try some other flavor combinations as well. Almond, lemon, lavender... What's your favorite madeleine?

Orange Madeleines
(recipe from Chicago madeleine pan package)

Yield: 24 Madeleines

2/3    cup flour
1/4    teaspoon baking powder
1/2    cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
2       large eggs, room temperature
1/2    teaspoon orange extract
1/2    heaping teaspoon grated orange peel
1 cup powdered sugar
Topping: sifted powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray the madeleine molds with  baking spray. (I used Pam+flour spray.) Hold in the fridge until ready to fill.

Sift together flour and baking powder in a small bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat eggs, orange extract and orange zest on high speed for 5 minutes. Gradually beat in powdered sugar; beat another 5 minutes or until thick.

Gently fold in flour mixture, then melted butter. Mix until smooth. Chill in the fridge for an hour.

Spoon or pipe the mixture into the cups, filling about 3/4 full. Bake approximately 8 minutes, or until edges are light brown. Be careful not to overtake.

Cool in the pan around 1-2 minutes. Tap on the counter to loosen the cookies, or loosen with a knife, then invert pan on a rack. When cool, sprinkle the tops with powdered sugar.

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