Madeleines (the cake/cookies, not the little missing girl)
December 10, 2007
"She (Marcel's mother) sent for one of those squat plump little cakes called "petites madeleines," which look as though they had been molded in the fluted valve of a scallop shell … 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 …"
Although his description sounds like an orgasm, the real controversy surrounding Proust's passage about the madeleine isn't his sensual language, but rather, the fact that his madeleine sounds like it was a stale shortbread cookie rather the moist cake-like treat we are familiar with.
Putting Proust's failed recollection aside (and his stale madeleine for that matter), I tried my hand at making a batch and they lived up to their hallowed description. If you drink coffee or black tea, there can be no better match than these cake-like cookies. I simply couldn't make enough - they lasted about 2 days before they mysteriously disappeared from my countertop.
The following recipe is again, adapted from Once Upon a Tart. I suggest that if you want to try to make this recipe, you double check for all the ingredients and tools. A madeleine mould is a must. I have a plain old-fashioned tin one, I don't like teflon. You also need a cooling baker's rack. This prevents the madeleine's from over-baking in the hot mould. Finally, if you can procure a local honey that is has not been pasteurized to death, it will really contribute to the flavor. I managed to get some honey produced by my boyfriend's grandpa who raises honey bees in the backyard full of mint, lavender, and rose plants. The honey has a cloudy appearance and an essence of all the herbs the bees feed on to produce the honey.
Tools you will need:
- one or two madeleine moulds
- cooling rack
- shaker or mesh strainer for sprinkling powdered sugar
- optional pastry bag
- pastry brush
- 6 tbsp butter (4 for the recipe, and 2 reserved for brushing on the mould)
- 1 1/2 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 c sugar
- 1 tbsp packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- confectioner's sugar for dusting
Step One: melt 4 tbsp butter over low heat in a small pan. Once melted, remove from heat and stir in honey and vanilla, leaving to cool.
Step Two: Beat the eggs and sugars in a bow at high speed until the mixture turns foamy and light (about 5 minutes)
Step Three: In a separate bown, whisk flour, baking powder and salt together. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wen ingredients using a spatula. Add the cooled butter/honey and continue mixing until fully incorporated.
Step Four: Cover bowl and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Step Five: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Brush the madeleine mould generously with barely melted butter, and around the mould as well.
Step Six: Either using a pastry bag or a spoon, fill each mould three quarters full. I advise that you fill the top of the mould as it expands when baking.
Step Seven: Bake for 8-10 minutes or unti ljust golden brown. Remove immediately and set on cooling rack. After a few minutes, turn the mould over and empty the cookies onto the cooling rack. Dust with powdered sugar and eat warm (it's the best).
Repeat and eat, and eat again!
Date and Cherry Granola Bars
December 03, 2007
You will need:
- 2 c rolled oats (not instant)
- 2/3 c wheat germ (I used Bob's Red Mill all natural wheat germ, found in the heart of a wheat berry)
- 1 1/2 c walnuts, chopped
- 1/4 c packed brown sugar
- 1/2 c honey
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 c chopped dried dates (buy them cheaper whole, remove the stones, and chop them up yourself)
- 1/2 c chopped dried sour cherries (buy these in bulk)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees; grease a small 9X9 cake pan with butter.
Step One: toast the oats and wheat germ on a cookie sheet for 15 minutes, stirring them every five minutes. Toast the walnuts for 10 minutes, also stirring every five minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Reduce oven heat to 300 degrees.
Step Two: In a stock pot, combine the butter, honey, sugar, salt, and vanilla over medium heat. Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon so it does not boil or simmer until the ingredients are all incorporated and the sugar appears dissolved (about 8 minutes).
Step Three: Combine the oats and wheat germ in the pot, continuing to stir. After the dry ingredients are coated with the wet ingredients, remove the mixture from the stove and add in the dried fruit, stirring well.
Step Four: Pour the mixture into your greased cake pan, and with wet hand, press the mixture down. Bake at 300 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Cut into squares and store in a ziplock bag or other air tight container in the refrigerator (remember it has butter). Eat for breakfast and stop starving yourself.