Madeleines are somewhat like rich little sponge cakes in the shape of a shell and hail from Northeastern France. In Remembrance Of Things Past, Marcel Proust famously reminisced about dipping them into his tea as a child and using them to contrast involuntary memory with voluntary memory.
No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory – this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. … Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend it? … And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before mass), when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom, my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane. The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it. And all from my cup of tea.
These little cakes are certainly memory inducing and best eaten right out of the oven. Nothing in the food realm quite cheers my husband like a plate of Madeleines dusted with powdered sugar. He dips them in his coffee and I dip mine in hot chocolate, but whatever you choose to dip them in, I’m sure they will bring a smile to your face as well!
adapted from: Barefoot In Paris
makes: 24 Madeleines
1 ½ tablespoons melted butter, to grease the pans
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornstarch (or tapioca starch)
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. kosher salt
1/3 cup shredded coconut (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Thoroughly grease 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 the butter and mix. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt, and stir into the batter with a rubber spatula. Stir in the coconut, if using.
With a spoon, drop the batter into the pans, filling each shell almost full. Bake the Madeleines for 10-12 minutes, until they spring back when pressed. Tap the Madeleines out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and allow to cool a bit. Dust with confectioner’s sugar, and serve with coffee, hot tea, or cocoa.