3-23-10

A CHEAPSKATE’S CARDAMOM MADELEINES

MAKES 12

This recipe is really part 2 of yesterday’s post: the treats I should have been dipping into my chai. In fact, I made the batter last night with that plan in mind — but then I got distracted by email and dinner plans and J came home and we had some wine, and well, before I knew it, I was asleep. Luckily (?) today is just as dreary as yesterday — and therefore just as deserving of cookies. And because this is a batter that happens to improve with chilling, the rest overnight didn’t hurt it one bit.

The concept is straightforward madeleine — those buttery, light puffs made immortal by Proust — spiked with a heavy-handed dose of freshly ground cardamom and a splash of orange flower water. The result is fragrant and toothsome and just barely sweet. I dubbed mine the cheapskate’s version because, as you can see from the picture above, I balked at shelling out $20 for an aluminum madeleine pan at my local chichi cookware shop, and decided instead to improvise a similar effect using tiny fluted mini-tarlets (which, by contrast, cost 35 cents apiece). The results weren’t traditional, but they were still delicious — which is damn near close enough for me.

1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground cardamom
1/2 cup sugar
7 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon orange flower water

1. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl whisk together the eggs, cardamom, and salt until the mixture is combined and quite frothy, about 3 minutes. Add sugar to the egg and spice mixture, and continue whisking. Next, pour half the melted butter into the egg and sugar mixture, stir to combine. Then sprinkle in half the flour mixture, and stir. Repeat again until you have added all the butter and flour to the egg mixture. Mix again, then drizzle in orange flower water. Stir a final time, the cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator. Chill for at least one hour, or overnight.

2. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Generously grease and flour a madeleine pan — or if you are going the cheapskate route, 12 mini tartlet molds, arranged on a baking sheet. (I cannot stress enough the importance of thoroughly buttering and flouring your tins: you will NOT be able to get the madeleines to pop out in one piece if you cut corners here.) Remove the chilled batter from the refrigerator and spoon it by the teaspoon into the prepared molds. Don’t worry about filling them neatly or completely: the madeleines will fill out and puff slightly as they bake. Bake for 10-12 minutes until light gold and just crisp around the edges. Set on a rack to cool for 15 minutes, and then gently tap them from their molds. If any of the madeleines stay stubborn, just give them a little prying with the dull edge of a butter knife.

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