Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Marvelous Madeleines

A plate of fresh warm Madeleines straight from the oven is one of the loveliest ways of ending a meal. Even if you've had a few courses, there's always room for one tiny madeleine. I recall an evening I had recently with some friends at Biff's Bistro in Toronto. One of the items on the menu caught my eye — Basket of à la minute baked madeleines. I don't normally have dessert, but a fresh basket of madeleines! This I had to see. 

The madeleines arrived piping hot, enshrouded in a white folded napkin atop a silver tray. Well, I was impressed. The madeleines were peaking through the white folds and the fragrance was, oh my — sweet, buttery and lemony — all in one. And the texture was so delicate, it just melted in your mouth. Needless to say, I have made Madeleines a great number of times, most notably after dinner parties. And they're so easy to make. I prepare the batter ahead of time and just pop them in the oven 10 minutes before I want to serve them — out they come, golden, puffy and perfect. I even fold a crisp white linen napkin, place the little lovelies inside, and serve them à table just like at Biff's.

Makes about 20

3 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup plain flour, sifted
1/2 tsp baking powder 

pinch of salt
9 tbsp salted butter, melted; plus 1 tbsp for buttering molds

1 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon
icing sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 400°F. 

Melt the butter. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until creamy. Then add the vanilla, lemon zest and pinch of salt. Mix flour and baking powder together in a small bowl, and gradually add it to the batter; beat just until blended. Gradually add the cooled melted butter in a steady stream, beating just until blended. 

Cover and refrigerate until required. 

Liberally brush the ridges of a Madeleine tin with melted butter. Dust with flour tapping of any excess. Fill the molds not quite to the top and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until they are puffed up and golden. Remove from the oven, take them out of the tin, dust with icing sugar and serve immediately. 

They won’t last long!