White Chocolate + Orange Madeleines
A Short History & Recipe by Hannah Abaffy, Milk + Honey the Bakery
For those of you who have tasted a madeleine, it may come as somewhat of a surprise to hear that one bite of this simple, albeit delicious cake, could summon forth a deluge of memory that would result in the longest novel ever written. At 1,267,069 words set into 7-volumes and reportedly never finished À la Recherche du Temps Perdu or Remembrance of Things Past, was the loquacious Proust’s crowning achievement in an already sterling career.
“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 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 invaded my senses.”
If a spoonful of tea-soaked madeleine crumbs can do all this for a 17th century Parisian neurotic, imagine what two or three freshly baked ones can do for you?
A Literary Cookie
Despite the true origin of the cake, madeleines had been around for sometime before Proust, however, until the author waxed eloquent about the bivalve shaped cookie it’s hard to say how common they were outside of France. As Marcel’s literary stamina began to receive recognition across Europe, so did the madeleine. The charming little scalloped cakes were elegant and now with their added literary clout unstoppable. Already commonplace in France they spread across Europe and can still be seen today in some of the finest patisseries.
Like anything in France involving food, there is a certain amount of ritual involved in the eating of madeleines. The cookie is at its finest when eaten alongside a cup of our favorite Tuscan Sunrise Espresso. With its blend of spices and orange, the Tuscan brings out the citrusy element in the madeleines and the marriage of flavor has the power to ‘invade the senses with exquisite pleasure’.
White Chocolate + Orange Madeleines
½ sticks unsalted butter, melted 1 ½ cups cake flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon coarse salt 3 large eggs
large egg yolks
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon orange blossom water
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
teaspoon grated orange zest
Tablespoons fresh orange juice (roughly one orange)
2 cups (11 oz) white chocolate, melted
-Small, delicate, and finicky, there are many things that can go wrong when preparing madeleines and so it is best to go into the kitchen well-prepared and armed with a few tricks to produce the perfect madeleine.
Butter two madeleine pans and set aside.
In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer add eggs, yolks, sugar, orange blossom water, vanilla, zest, and the fresh orange juice. With the whisk attachment, whisk on med-high for five minutes, or until pale in color and thickened slightly. Mix in the melted butter.
-Every madeleine calls for a relatively large amount of melted butter. By browning the butter, you add a nuttiness that heightens the flavors and unleashes wells of repressed memories at the first bite. However browning butter can be tricky, and can very quickly go from just toasted to burnt. Those who don’t feel confident in their browning abilities can simply melt the butter. However, I was once told “we must do brave things in the kitchen” so I encourage everyone to at least give it a shot.
Using a large spatula fold in the dry ingredients to the egg mixture. When combined, set aside to rest for thirty minutes.
To make madeleines you need special scalloped baking trays. I encourage you to buy two as most recipes will produce two dozen and to wash, dry, and butter the molds twice quickly becomes tiresome.
When the batter has finished resting preheat your oven to 375F and fill your trays 3/4 of the way full.
-Some insist that a true madeleine will have a pronounced bump on the back, I personally prefer a more svelte madeleine but who am I to argue with tradition? In order to achieve that height try freezing your madeleine pans prior to filling them and letting the batter rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, and if time and patience allow, as long as overnight.
Bake cookies 7-8 minutes rotating halfway through until the edges are crisp. Let cool for several minutes in the pan before removing.
While the madeleines are cooling, heat up the white chocolate on top of a double boiler adding a couple tablespoons of coconut oil if it seems too thick. When the chocolate is thoroughly melted, dip half the madeleine into the chocolate at an angle and place on a sheet of clean parchment paper. Shave a small amount of orange zest over the still melted chocolate for garnish. Allow the chocolate to set up before serving.
Madeleines keep very well sealed at room temperature for 2-3 days.