10 little shells in 2 straight lines, that’s how I made my Madeleines

So what it’s not pronounced Madeline, you understand where I’m coming from. One of my coworkers told me how much he loves these cookies, so I said one day I’d get around to making them. Since I’ve never had one myself, I read a bunch of different recipes and took the parts I liked from each of them to make the ultimate Madeleine. This recipe was adapted from Dorie’s book as well as Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook (thanks, Mom!).

Both these ladies have not only tons of fantastic recipes, but comprehensive tips to make sure your cookies come out looking and tasting professionally made. Though there’s some overlap in the recipes, each woman has her own take on most of them so you get to pick and choose what you like best, like I did.

Just one FYI, if you aren’t aware, these cookies require their own special molds for baking. They should be available at most specialty baking stores, and look like this. I got the regular metal, as opposed to nonstick, and I got the mini shells so I could make more of them to share. (Pix below)

And now, so you too can enjoy these light, lemony seashells, here’s my take on the classic Madeleine:

MADELEINES

  • 2/3 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour, not packed – I just processed some almonds I had in the house
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar – I used vanilla sugar for some extra flavor
  • grated zest of one lemon
  • 3 large eggs at room temp
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter – melted and cooled

First, melt your butter and set it aside to cool. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and almond flour.

Working in another bowl, it recommends the mixer but I’ll tell you why I didn’t in a minute, rub together the sugar and the lemon zest using your fingers. That’s right, massage it right in. You’ll be amazed at how much it brings out the lemon flavor, something about the interaction with the sugar releases more of the oils. It smells unbelievable. Now, I worked in a little mixing bowl because I had to leave mid-prep. I covered the little bowl with plastic wrap and left it for a couple of hours while I got my eggs to room temp. I figure it got to marinate a bit extra that way, though it wasn’t my original intention. Basically if you do it in a mixing bowl, you’ll use one less bowl!

Add your 3 eggs, and beat until light, pale, and fluffy. It will take a couple of minutes.

Next, add the vanilla and beat a little longer. Then, very gently, fold in the dry ingredients. I’ve never been so careful doing something, but since they’re such delicate little French cookies, I figured I had to! When that’s just incorporated, mix in the melted butter gently, by hand.

I didn’t take a picture of the batter because as you’ll see from pictures below, it just looks gross, nothing special.

Press plastic wrap all the way to the surface of the batter, and chill it in the fridge for at least 3 hours, or up to 2 days. I actually ended up leaving mine for 2 days. I’d intended to bring them somewhere the day I made the batter, they’re recommended best eaten the day you make them, but since my plans fell through I waited to make them until they could be enjoyed fresh. Dorie even suggests refrigerating the batter after you put it in the molds. I had too much batter and too few pans to do that, so I left it in the mixer bowl.

Fast forward 2 days, to me getting up obscenely early before work to crank them out. Preheat your oven to 375 F, and then get ready to portion out the cookies.

Make sure you grease and flour these pans before putting anything in them. Now this was a step in both recipes anyway, as it is in many recipes, but I felt with the detailing of the shell especially that there was a lot of room for the cookie to stick in the mold after baking. I just used a baking spray, but you can butter and flour the molds by hand if you have the time.

One recipe suggested piping the batter into the shells, while the other didn’t specify how to do it. I decided piping was the way to go, however, because it would allow for more exact portions and less cleanup. Boy, was I right. Although the first batch I overfilled the molds a bit, you can fill them until they’re halfway or almost full – but I did them to the brim, piping was way smoother than trying to plop a lump of spoon-shaped dough into the pan.

I imagine it took a lot less time to do it as well.

Before I put them in the oven, I placed the Madeleine trays onto another baking sheet. I was worried about them tilting on the wire racks in the oven. This also made it easier to take them out, since there’s not much handle room and I didn’t want to squish my shells.

Bake them, rotating halfway through, for 8-10 minutes. I actually did mine for 9 solid minutes after my first batch didn’t seem quite done at 8. Since you’re not letting the cookies sit and bake some more in the hot molds once they’re out of the oven, they need to finish baking inside. Let them.

After you take them out, however, you’ll want to immediately get them out of the molds. I, very awkwardly because of my huge oven mitts, held the mold with one hand and tapped the back with the other over a wire rack. Most of the shells slid out no problem. If they don’t, just use a butter knife to lift the edge.

Here’s my artistic shot of a lone shell that stuck. He later joined his brethren.

With the mini trays, which have 20 molds each, I made nearly 4 batches of cookies – that’s almost 80 cookies. Plenty to share around the office, even after putting a private stash away for my buddy the Madaleine lover.

They look so light and spongy, I can see why they’re best eaten fresh. I hope they bring a smile to you and  those around you, but that probably means you’ll have to share.

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