Madeleines have a bit of a reputation. The ideal has been outlined so specifically, it’s hard to imagine topping it:
No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory – this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, contingent, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy? I sensed that it was connected with the taste of the tea and the cake, but that it infinitely transcended those savors, could, no, indeed, be of the same nature. Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend it?
Never underestimate the power of cake.
The perfect madeleine is meant to be moist on the inside, golden brown on the outside, and formed with the perfect camel’s hump. This does not always happen. Madeleines have a reputation for going dry and crumbly, not lifting into golden humped glory, and sticking like a desperate ex to the pan. How do you prevent these cake-tastrophies (sorry sorry sorry)? By having a bit of patience and planning.
Tips for perfect madeleines:
1. Room temperature, fresh eggs (these provide lift, structure, and richness).
2. Gently adding the flour and butter, so as not to deflate the thickened eggs.
3. Grease and flour your pans well. (This will allow the madeleines to dislodge easily. NEVER pull at them, always tap the pan to release)
4. Chilling the batter and the greased and floured pans. (This helps the madeleines puff up)
5. Preheat the oven thoroughly, and for extra insurance, add a baking sheet or pizza stone to place the madeleine tray on. (The heat from the tray will help add to the lift of the madeleines)
I love brown butter (obviously) and rose anything, so I mixed the two together for these delicate, delicious little cakes. If you don’t feel like it, you can lose the glaze all together, though I do think it helps them stay fresher longer.
For 24 cookies
9 tablespoons (1 stick plus a tablespoon) unsalted butter, browned and cooled to room temperature, plus additional melted butter for preparing the molds
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup white sugar
1 large pinch kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting trays
1 teaspoon double acting baking powder
INGREDIENTS (ROSEWATER GLAZE)
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon rosewater
3 tablespoons milk
1 drop pink food coloring (optional)
chopped up organic rose petals (optional)
Brush the indentations of a madeleine mold with melted butter. Dust with flour, tap off any excess, and place in the fridge or freezer. In the bowl of a standing mixer (or with an electric hand mixer), whip the eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla for 5 minutes until pale and thickened.
Whisk together the flour and baking powder. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour as you sprinkle it over the batter. Drizzle the browned butter into the batter, a little at a time, while simultaneously folding to incorporate the butter. Fold just until all the butter is incorporated.
Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (Batter can be chilled for up to 12 hours.)
To bake the madeleines, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Plop enough batter in the center of each mold that you think will fill it by 3/4′s (it’s about a tablespoon and a half on my trays). Do not spread it.
Bake for 9 to 10 minutes or until the cakes just feel set, (press the cakes lightly with your finger and if it bounces back they’re done. If it stays indented, give it another minute in the oven). While the cakes are baking, make a glaze in a small mixing bowl by stirring together the powdered sugar, rosewater, milk, a drop of pink food coloring and water until smooth.
Remove from the oven and tilt the madeleines out onto a cooling rack. The moment they’re cool enough to handle, dip each cake in the glaze, turning them over to make sure both sides are coated and scrape off any excess with your finger. After dipping, rest each one back on the cooking rack, scalloped side up, until the cakes are cool and the glaze has firmed up.
Glazed madeleines are best left uncovered and eaten as soon as possible after they’re baked.