French Madeleines

By Mary

As everyone in America is well aware, we’ve been experiencing some extreme, record breaking cold weather in Wisconsin. It’s difficult, it’s gloomy, and yes it has been very cold. For the last week, we’ve been perpetually hunkered down and focused on staying warm, keeping the wood fire going, keeping the baby happy, and the animals well fed, warm, and safe in the barn as we head into lambing season.

What a surprise it was to me on Monday morning when I heard a loud pounding on my door. Now, I’m the last home on a dead end road, so unannounced visitors are few. I opened the door to find a poor postal service employee with a package in his hand. He asked me how I was. I replied “Much better than you!” He agreed, as he informed me he’d already been stuck in the ditch once that morning. I signed for the package as hurriedly as I could so he could scurry back to his warm vehicle. Coming back into the house, I wondered who could possibly be sending me a box.

The box was from my dear friend Havilah who grew up homeschooling with me here in Wisconsin and is now the co-owner of the wildly successful Blue Fox tour company in Paris, France. This box made my day, or quite truthfully, my week. In the depths of this 20 below cold snap, I was given warmth and cheer. If any of you recall the famous Christmas barrel (and turkey!) that came in May to the Wilder family during The Long Winter, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, you can imagine how I felt. This package was just as delightful to receive.

Upon opening the box I discovered it was full of French chocolates and a recipe to make madeleines, as well as a madeleine baking tray. This week there has been so much chocolate consumption in my home, and I’ve been churning out madeleines for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

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Many thanks to Havilah for her delightful and timely gift. As this season of cold continues, I encourage all of you to lighten your spirits. May we all find joy in the simplicity of friendship and food.

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French Madeleines

You will need:

1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 ½ tsp lemon zest, finely grated

1 cup all purpose flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

3 large eggs, at room temperature

¾ cup granulated sugar

½ cup confectioners sugar, sifted

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To begin:

  1. Cut the butter into tablespoons and place in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, reduce heat to low and continue cooking, until the solids sink to the bottom of the pan and turn golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and pour the browned butter into a small cup.
  2. Stir the vanilla and lemon zest into the butter, then set aside to cool
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside till needed.
  4. In a different bowl, beat the eggs at medium speed while gradually adding the sugar. Once all of the sugar has been added, increase the speed to medium high and continue whipping the mixture until it’s very thick and pale in color, about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the mixture off and, using a spatula, fold in the flour mixture in 3 additions, stirring just until combined. Fold in the butter mixture.
  5. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, up to 2 days.
  6. 30 minutes before you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Generously brush the molds of your madeleine pan with butter, then lightly dust with flour.
  7. Spoon level scoops of the batter into the center of each mold. You don’t need to spread the batter.
  8. Bake for 12 minutes, or until their little “bellies” have risen and they’re golden brown.
  9. Cool madeleines in the pan placed on the cooling rack for a minute or two, then gently remove them from molds.
  10. Dust with confectioners sugar and serve with coffee or tea.

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