It might surprise you to learn that until this past holiday season, I did not own the proper equipment to bake my own namesake cookie. Thanks to the love of my life, that tragic situation has now been remedied.
I baked my first batch of Madeleines about a week ago, sticking pretty faithfully (for me, at least) to the Joy of Baking‘s recipe, and tried them out on my godmother Barbara, one of the founders of the now-ubiquitous Just Desserts. (No, she’s no longer an owner, so no, I can’t get you free goodies.) After receiving her thumbs-up and agreement that, as I suspected, I’d baked them about 30 seconds too long, I decided I was ready to… you guessed it… improvise.
Substituting unsweetened cocoa powder for some of the flour provides rich chocolate flavor while maintaining the characteristic genoise-like lightness you expect from a Madeleine cookie recipe. The fresh lemon zest doesn’t overpower the flavor, but rather adds the depth that really sends this little butter cake over the top.
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup white sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- zest of 1 medium lemon
Melt the butter and set aside to cool while you prepare your other ingredients. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt, and set aside. With a stand- or hand mixer, beat eggs until they begin to get frothy. Add sugar and continue beating at medium speed until the eggs have about tripled in volume and form a thick ribbon when lifted from the bowl. Add vanilla and lemon zest and beat just enough to combine.
Sift 1/4 of the sifted dry ingredients over the egg mixture and gently fold it in with a spatula, being careful not to over-mix. Fold in the remaining flour, then whisk a small amount of this batter into the cooled melted butter, then fold this back into the batter in 3 additions. Cover and refrigerate at least half an hour (up to 3 hours), until it firms up a little.
When you’re ready to bake, preheat your oven to 375°F. Grease two 12-cup Madeleine pans, and then dust with flour, tapping out excess. Don’t skimp on this step or your Madeleines will stick to the pan! Next, scoop the batter into the center of each cookie mold by the tablespoon. There’s no need to flatten it, as the batter will naturally spread. Bake for 9-11 minutes, until tops are springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and bang the pan on the counter to loosen the cookies. Immediately turn out on parchment paper spread over wire racks to cool. Best served on the day of baking.
While Madeleine cookies are slightly high-maintenance in that you need a special pan to bake them, in my opinion, they’re worth it. And it’s not just because they share my first name (correct spelling and all!). Now that I’ve got the equipment and mastered the technique, I see the opportunity to use Madeleines as a classic vehicle for all kinds of new flavor combinations!