My kitchen is not particularly large. This is perhaps not a unique problem for someone who rents an apartment in a city, especially if that city is San Francisco. But it has had a serious impact on my kitchen purchases over the last few years. Alarming quickly our cabinet filled with dishes, pantry goods, odd Tupperware lids, pots and pans, as well as my relatively small collection of bake ware. So when it comes time to buy a new piece, I always have to consider – how much do I want this and what else can I use it for?
This has led to several dilemmas where I want something that has only one purpose. Like a special pan to make Madeleine cookies. Light and chewy – they are really everything good about cake but in a cookie size with a beautiful shape. But I just couldn’t justify the space for something that only makes one thing.
I apparently talked about my love of Madeleines a lot because a few years ago some great friends bought me one for my birthday. And well, you can’t just throw away such a thoughtful present, right? I didn’t think so. So I decided that to make up for the fact that it had only one use, I would just make a lot of Madeleine cookies with it.
I can’t say that I’ve kept up that part of the bargain as well as I should. With all the other interesting dessert recipes to try (like a delicious pie I’ll be sharing soon!) there just aren’t as many Madeleines in my life as I’d like. That’s not to say I don’t make them a lot. I make Madeleines probably more than any other cookie so at this point I’ve learned the finer points of how to make these delicious “tumor cookies,” as a friend once called them.
The lemon is my favorite thing about Madeleines so I don’t fuss around with other flavors. There’s zest mixed into the dough and I also like some extra lemon flavor just before baking. I take toasted lemon powder (strips of lemon peel, pith removed, left to dry for a few days, toasted lightly for a few minutes, then ground in a spice grinder) and sprinkle it on the tops before baking. It increases the lemon flavor and aroma without the tartness that lemon juice would add. Normally I like a little tart and sweet but it just doesn’t work here – use extra lemon zest if you don’t want to be bothered making lemon powder. And if you don’t have the Madeleine pan, you can use a muffin tin instead and divide the batter evenly among the 12 cups. They won’t have the nice seashell shape but you’ll still get that sweet bump in the middle.
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
Makes 12 cookies
2/3 cup flour
¾ tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
½ cup sugar
Zest of 1 lemon or 2 tsp of toasted lemon powder
2 tsp vanilla
6 tbs butter, melted and cooled
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Put sugar and zest in a large mixing bowl and stir with your fingers until the sugar is fragrant. Working with a whisk, hand mixer, or stand mixer, beat in eggs until light and foamy. Whisk in vanilla, then flour mix, and then butter. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, 6 or 8 is ideal.
Preheat over to 400F. Butter your Madeleine pan/muffin tray well to ensure that cookies release after baking. Spoon the batter into the molds, making sure it’s evenly divided. Once all the batter is in, give the pan a little shake to ensure that the batter is evenly distributed in each mold. Bake for 10 minutes or until the top are puffed up and the edges of the cookies are a dark golden brown. Immediately remove cookies by turning the pan upside down and then place them on a cooling rack; use a knife to pry out any stragglers – removing them quickly ensures a crisp edge. Eat warm or at room temperature, depending on how you like your cake.