These are little cakes from Commercy in North eastern France. Madeleines were made famous by Marcel Proust in his novel 'Remembrance of Things Past' in which he wrote: "She sent out for one of those short, plump little cakes called 'petites madeleines', which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim's shell. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses....".
They are normally baked in shell shaped moulds, a small muffin tin will do, and served with coffee. Traditionally they are made with ground nuts, honey and vanilla but can be flavoured with spices as below, lemon, orange, chocolate, orange blossom, hazelnuts......
- 55g plain flour
- 250g caster sugar
- 50g ground almonds
- 240g butter
- 3 tblsp honey
- 6 egg whites
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp 5 spice
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
Melt the butter in a sauce pan and continue to cook until the butter foams, keep on heating until the butter goes quiet and has turned a light brown colour.
Take off the heat, add the honey so it melts and leave to cool until blood temperature.
Place all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix in the butter and honey mixture.
Beat in the egg whites one at a time. The whites do not have to be whipped.
Put the mixture in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up.
Meanwhile set the oven to 180°C. Grease and flour the tin thoroughly as the mixture has a tendency to stick, and stick hard.
Three quarter fill the mould and bake in the middle shelf of the oven until golden brown and cooked through, about 10 to 14 minutes depending on the size of the mould.
Madeleines are also used for petit fours which use a tiny mould and are cooked in 7 to 8 minutes.