Monday, August 13, 2007

Courtney's French Madelines

This weekend we had a visitor to our small apartment in the fog. My fiance's-mother's-friend's-daughter, Courtney, came to stay with us for a couple of days and escape the ragged heat of Sonoma County. Young Courtney is ten, so we got to take part in some fun kids stuff like checking out the Exploratorium, watching silly movies, and of course, cooking sugary treats. Before she came down the The City, Courtney mentioned that she liked to bake, so we looked through a few cookbooks and thought about what to make. Then, Courtney said she had never had a Madeline. Well, then, it was settled. Madelines it was. These sweet, buttery cakes are pretty easy to make, take very few ingredients, but are very delicate and need constant attention. Just a few minutes too long in the oven and they are toast. Literally.

Our little friend Courtney did all of the measuring and mixing, and we took care of anything involving sharp objects or hot scalding liquids. Once the batter was made, we greased the Madelines pan, and spooned in the batter for our first batch. Now, if you have never made Madelines before, (and this could be true of any cookie or small cake) you may want to burn the first batch intentionally. Because its gonna happen anyway. But if you do it on purpose, you can at least know how long it takes to get there and know when to pull them out the next time. Or just never take your eyes off of them. That might work too. So here it is, the recipe for Courtney's first French Madeline.

4 eggs
2 c. sugar
2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. melted butter (yes, that's right, 1 1/2 cups. That is 3 sticks of delicious, creamy butter.)
1 tbsp. vanilla
Confectioners' sugar

Start butter in the top of a double boiler and melt. Set aside to cool. Stir eggs and sugar into top of double boiler until creamy and lukewarm. Remove from heat and beat until cool; add flour gradually, mixing well. Fold in butter and vanilla.

Use special shell-shaped Madeline molds that have been buttered and floured (or small 1 1/2 inch muffin pans). Fill molds 2/3 full; fill muffin tins less than 1/2 full. Bake in a 425 degree oven for ten minutes or until lightly browned. The exposed tops should be white or light brown, but solid. If you are still unsure, use the edges of the cakes as a gauge: The browner the edges, the browner the soft shell-shaped bottom. Be careful, they burn fast. Dust cooled tea cakes with powdered sugar. Yield: 4-5 dozen.

For a tasty addition, peel two peaches or another slightly over-ripe fruit you may have in your fruit bowl, chop into chunks, and toss into the food processor. Puree'. Spoon in 4 - 5 Tbs. of sugar and mix. Serve the Madelines with the puree'.

We had a lot of fun mixing, spooning, burning and eating these wonderful little cakes and I am glad that Courtney got to try them for the first time with us. Thanks, Courtney, for helping me make one of my favorite treats. I hope you liked them as much as I do.