Monday, January 17, 2011


These delicate little shells are basically my favorite cookies (besides my grandmother's pastries), so it's long past time I made them. I bought myself a madeleine pan before Thanksgiving, but hadn't gotten to use it until now. I also got to use the completely amazing zester I got for Christmas. It did such a good job with so little effort that I seriously considered taking a photo of the pile of zest. I used this recipe, because it was the first one I found that used whole eggs instead of just the whites (I never know what to do with leftover yolks, and I hate to waste them). It was very easy and the madeleines turned out beautifully. They even posed prettily for my Martha-Stewart-esque-except-for-crappy-camera-quality photo.

- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (plus another tbsp or two for greasing the pan)
- 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (plus a bit to dust the pan)
- 4 large eggs
- pinch of fine-grain sea salt
- 2/3 cup sugar
- zest of one large lemon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- powdered sugar

Brown the butter by cooking it over medium heat until the milk solids and salt turn brown on the bottom of the pan and the butter gives off a nutty smell. Whisk or swirl the pan every so often to make sure it cooks evenly. Strain well (through a very fine sieve or cheesecloth) and set aside to cool. I ended up with a little under a cup full.

Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Butter each hollow in the pan (it's easiest to put the pat of butter on the end of a fork) and dust with flour. Shake off excess flour and wipe off the edges of the pan.

Crack the eggs and use an electric mixer on high speed to beat them with the salt until they've doubled or tripled in volume (three or four minutes). Continue beating and add the sugar in a continuous stream. Continue beating until the mixture thickens a bit and the ripples following the beater last for a second or two.

Gently fold in the lemon zest and vanilla. Sift flour onto the top of the mixture and fold in until just mixed. Follow by folding in the butter mixture and stirring carefully until the batter is even. Use a tablespoon or soup spoon to drop batter into the pan, filling each mold about 3/4 full. Bake for about 12 minutes or until the edges are crispy, remove from the pan immediately (they should come out easily). Cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

The recipe made 32 cookies in my pan. I'm going to take most of them in to work tomorrow, and give the rest to some neighbors who keep bringing Kelly and me delicious baked goods. I can't wait to try making these in some other flavors. I also recommend using the madeleine pan to make corn muffins (my mom used to do this) or anything else that needs crispy edges to be perfect.

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