“I really shouldn’t have any of your black tea–it’s too strong. It made me feel bad when I had some yesterday.”
It was Sunday–we had just returned from lunch and I was taking orders for an afternoon pick-me-up. I admit that I am partial to strong black tea most of the time but I just smiled at his comment as if to say, “yes, dear”. I didn’t have the heart to tell my husband that all he had was about a half cup of my tea and I drowned it in milk–hardly enough to give him a caffeine-induced headache. Could he really have forgotten that he polished off most of these plump madeleines between sips of that “strong black tea”? What I’ve learned after a dozen years together is that some things are better left unsaid.
He did so well resisting the madeleines at first. He is desperately trying to lose eight pounds and I’m not exactly helping matters by keeping sweets around the house (let’s face it, it’s not helping me either). He turned them down and ate a banana instead. But he only lasted a half hour, poor guy. I prepared my cup of tea and left the kitchen for just a few minutes. By the time I returned half my tea was gone and so were most of the madeleines. I walked into the kitchen to hear him say, “These are too easy to eat.”
These chocolate madeleines from Pierre Hermé are indeed easy to eat. They are much plumper than other madeleines I see in stores and a lot more moist. An overnight chill of the batter ensures the characteristic rise of these classic French tea cakes (or are they cookies?) and while you may be tempted to skip this step altogether, I highly recommend it. The recipe called for lemon zest and while I used it, I did not taste it in the finished product at all. What you do taste is rich, chocolatey goodness. These madeleines are perfect with afternoon tea, but please don’t get carried away like my husband. Two or three will suffice for a satisfying chocolate fix.
- ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon (70 grams) all-purpose flour
- 3½ tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon double-acting baking powder
- ⅓ cup plus two tablespoons (90 grams) sugar
- Pinch of salt
- Grated zest of ¼ lemon (optional)
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 6½ tablespoons (3¼ ounces; 100 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
- Sift together the flour, cocoa and baking powder and set aside. If using the lemon zest, combine the sugar, salt and lemon zest in another bowl and rub the ingredients together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist, grainy and aromatic.
- Using a whisk, beat the eggs with the lemon-sugar mixture until blended. Squish the butter through your fingers and add to the bowl. You will be left with little clumps of butter in the mixture–this is okay. Beat in the butter with the whisk until it is evenly distributed. Whisk in the sifted flour mixture just until the flour is incorporated and mixture is smooth. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the batter and chill overnight. If you can’t wait overnight, chill the batter for at least an hour before baking.
- When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Butter a 12-mold madeleine pan then dust it with flour (even if you are using a nonstick pan) and tap out the excess.
- Divide the batter evenly among the madeleine molds–you don’t have to worry about spreading the batter on the molds, the heat will do that for you. Place the pan in the oven and use a wooden spoon to keep the oven door slightly ajar. Immediately turn down the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake the cookies for 13 – 15 minutes, or until the cookies are domed and spring back when pressed lightly. Unmold the cookies and transfer them to a rack to cool to room temperature.