I have fallen in love with the French cookie/cake called a Madeleine. They are small shell shaped cookies, but instead of the hard crunch of a cookie, or biscuit, they are made with light fluffy cake. I understand that you can get them in many flavors, but the only ones I’ve found have a hint of vanilla, or lemon flavor which is barely discernible on your pallet. I came across the DonSueMor Brand one day at Starbucks and they go so well with coffee that I can’t seem to keep from buying them whenever I’m there. At $2.00 for a bag of three, I thought it might be best if I learned how to make them to have around the house. Of course, this wasn’t a conscious thought that lead immediately to action mind you. This was one of those “wouldn’t it be great” thoughts that you tuck away and recall from time-to-time.
It wasn’t until I was watching the DVD of The Transporter that my little nurturing thought was moved into action. I was watching the movie when Lai bakes some Madeleines for our hero Frank Martin. As the two action stars sat there eating them and discussing their next move, I thought, “Man, wouldn’t that be great to enjoy a Madeline with my coffee?” I could just picture myself sitting at the kitchen table, overlooking the pasture that rests behind our home. Dotting the landscape are grazing cattle, some nursing their young, while I type away on my Alphasmart Dana. Every so often, I pause for a sip of coffee and a nibble of this French cake delicacy and look down at Gracie sleeping at my feet. Even now, this idea makes me close my eyes so I can savor the thought in my mind as if it were suckling a rich piece of chocolate, letting it melt and soothe my body.
Woah. Snap out of the vivid imagery and get to the point 😉
I needed to act on this gastronomic fantasy and the first step was to buy a madeleine pan. Much like a cupcake pan, a madeleine pan is what gives this tasty treat it’s unique shape. Lucky for me, Holly’s Mother and Grandmother are in town and the one thing that those three love to do is shop. So I asked Holly to find me a madeleine pan and like the professional shopper she is, she found one at Williams Sonoma as she was shopping at the Green Hills Mall later that day.
Armed with a pan, I did a Google search this morning in search of a recipe. I found one at about.com that seem to match what my taste buds recall and I went about making my first batch of madeleine’s. I’m not a great cook, but I’m not afraid of the kitchen either. If I have a recipe, I can usually prepare just about anything. I’ve never really done much baking though, so this was a bit of a new experience for me. Some of the techniques, such as folding, were a little unique, but thanks to many hours watching Food TV I was able to pull it off.
I followed the recipe to a “T” and after 15 minutes of baking, the madeleines were ready to come out of the oven. I had questioned some of the ingredients, or their quantities to be exact, but I figured the Internet knew more about baking than I did. As I pulled the pan from the oven I noticed that the consistency of the madeleines were not quite as fluffy as I would have liked. They seemed a little dense. I flipped the pan and tumbled the madeleines out onto a drying sheet. The shape was right and they looked good, just not quite as light I’ve seen them. Holly, Judie and Inez all gathered around to try my new fangled concoction. Nothing quite like cooking for an immediate audience.
I took my first bite and sent my taste buds into “microscope mode” to flesh out all the details of what I had prepared. They were ambushed, not with subtly, but with the overwhelming taste of egg. My madeleines tasted like a scrambled egg. Everyone seemed to agree and since they had never tried one before, asked me if that’s what they were supposed to taste like. I looked back and counted my eggshells to make sure that they matched the recipe and sure enough, they did. I explained that this was not the flavor I was going for and that this was as much of a surprise to me as it was to them. Luckily they still tasted good and it was breakfast time after all.
Holly made the comment that they weren’t sweet and were they supposed to have sugar in them. They did have 1/2 a cup folded in already, but I remember that the recipe called for sprinkling powered sugar on them. Dashing to the pantry and a kitchen drawer, I sifted powered sugar on top of the remaining madeleines in order to try and save my recipe. I felt like I was in ER and needed to shout “Clear!” as the powered sugar lightly covered my baking victims. Unfortunately my patient was DOA because all the powered sugar did was change the taste from egg to French toast.
We enjoyed the rest of our French toast madeleines and all had a good laugh. They may not have turned out the way I wanted, but they were editable and not without their own unique charm. Judie and I tossed around ideas on how to improve the next batch and my only conclusion was that I needed a better recipe. This was a perfect example of how you can’t trust everything you read on the Internet. I needed a trusted source for a good recipe, so I turned to FoodTV.com and found 3 or 4 receipes that looked like they could fit the bill. I decided on this one and will try making it tonight to see if I fare any better.
My little fantasy may have had the equivalent of a pie being thrown into its face, but at least it tasted good. I’ll keep at it baking away until I find the right recipe and combination of ingredients. It will make savoring my success all the richer. 🙂