An Advantage of Being Small

April 29th, 2009

I’ve been acquiring many strange and sometimes useless tools and ingredients along my journey to pastry chef-dom. While I am still without a proper full-sized cake pan, I have a giant cupcake-shaped pan (which to me looks more like a chef’s hat – it’s not the two-piece Wilton one everyone is used to seeing), a clunky rose-shaped bundt pan (never used for fear of how much buttering and flouring would be necessary), a pan that makes ice cream cone-shaped cakes (I hate that thing, anyone wanna trade funky-shaped cake pans?), mini springforms, oblong ramekins, etc. There was one funky (and somewhat more useful) pan that I was coveting every time I went to a kitchen supply store, and I finally bought it.

Hello friends!

Hello friends!

I had never tasted a madeleine until my most recent trip to New York. The one I had was good, but nothing inspirational. However, I had no tea to go with it when I ate it. It was also big. Well, normal-sized. But big for me. So I bought a mini-madeleine pan.

See? The perfect size!

See? The perfect size!

I wasn’t sure what flavor I wanted to make until after I got home from shopping one day. And by shopping I mean spending money I currently can’t replenish on an assortment of things only I would buy, like cacao nibs, dried rosebuds, loose teas, dried chamomile…You know, necessities.

Anyway, I was refilling the little tin of chamomile when I happened to think of the madeleine pan. I had already decided that I was going to try to make madeleines that would specifically pair with certain kinds of tea, and happened to have a couple Meyer lemons bumming around the fruit drawer in the fridge. Chamomile and lemon are a great combination, and I figured the floral qualities of the Meyer lemon would compliment the relaxing flowery flavor of chamomile.

See? They ARE perfect! They fit in the spoon...

Place one in the spoon...

I wasn’t really sure how to get the chamomile flavor into the madeleines. I didn’t want to end up with little bits of dried flower throughout, so I decided to try and steep the chamomile in the melted butter.

...dunk them under the surface...

...dunk it under the surface...

The chamomile flavor is there, but very faintly. The Meyer lemon took front and center immediately after baking, but after letting the madeleines rest overnight it mellowed out.

...now eat! And repeat! A lot, because they're tiny!

...now eat! And repeat! A lot, because they're tiny!

So what tea pairs best with these tasty little bites? Chamomile, of course!

And I do recommend making little ones – I find this is a daintier and neater way to eat something that would otherwise become very crumbly and leaky if you couldn’t balance it on a spoon.

Meyer Lemon Chamomile Madeleines

Mmm, calming.

Mmm, calming.

  1. 1/2 cup (1 stick)unsalted butter
  2. 2 tsp dried chamomile flowers (about 24-30 blossoms)
  3. 1 cup AP flour
  4. 1/2 tsp baking powder
  5. 1/8 tsp fine salt
  6. 3 eggs
  7. 2/3 cup sugar
  8. Zest & juice from 1 Meyer lemon

Cut the butter into eight pieces. Place the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Once it is melted enough that a pool of butter has formed on the bottom, add the chamomile. Continue to heat, stirring gently, until the butter is completely melted. Remove from heat and set aside to steep and cool while you prepare the other ingredients.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt, then set aside. With a stand mixer or a handheld electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar on medium-high until they are tripled in volume, about 5 minutes. The batter will form thick ribbons when you lift the beaters. Add the zest and juice and beat just to incorporate. Sift a small amount of the dry mixture over the egg mixture and fold in to lighten the batter. Repeat with the rest of the dry mixture in small amounts. Fold carefully and don’t overmix the batter.

Strain the cooled butter into a bowl. It doesn’t have to be large, you won’t be using it for much. Add a small amount of the batter and whisk thoroughly to lighten the butter. Fold the butter into the rest of the batter in thirds. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes (some recipes say hours to overnight, but 30 minutes to an hour worked fine for me) until somewhat firm. Preheat the oven to 375. If you have a nonstick madeleine pan, just grease it with a little butter for flavor. If you are like me and bought the cheapo but still perfectly good shiny regular metal pan, grease and flour each little scallop like your life depends on it (it’s actually kind of fun). If using a big (regular) pan, drop a tablespoon of the batter into the middle of each scallop. If using a mini pan, do slightly less than a teaspoon. Bake 7-9 minutes for minis and 11-13 minutes for regular-sized madeleines. They will be golden and spring back when you poke them. Immediately remove them from their molds by rapping the mold against the counter sharply and turning them out onto a cooling rack (this part is the most fun next to eating them). Allow to rest overnight for maximum flavor development, and consume within a few days, or freeze up to 1 month. Store in an airtight container.

I’m really happy with how these turned out, and am very excited to experiment with flavors. I have another flavor combination (to pair with green tea!) rattling around in my head, so expect more of these little guys soon.

2 Responses to “An Advantage of Being Small”

  1. Carolyn Jung says:

    I admit that I usually prefer “chewy” as my texture of choice in cookies. But I’ve developed a new-found taste for madelines. I think what I like about them is that they may be a cookie, but really, they have the texture of cake. So it’s almost like you get to indulge in a big taste of cake in a little cookie.

  2. I’m small too and I think small is better! :) Love the sound of those flavours and intensifying it with chamomile tea too!

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