What would we do without lemons? They provide an acidic component to almost anything that comes out of the kitchen. They balance the sweetness of pies, cakes, and cookies. Their tart flavor sharpens and adds complexity to seafood dishes, marinades, dressings and mayonnaise. It’s no secret; I adore lemons. I squeeze lemons into my water, sprinkle their zest into all manner of dessert, and even use them to brighten copper cookware. When life gives me lemons, I make lemonade.
Take the humble madeleine, made iconic by Marcel Proust in Rememberances of Things Past. As far as cookies go, this one is the last one I’d line up at the bakery for. Pretty scalloped shape aside, the madeleines I have encountered have been so-so. Moist and delicate, to be sure, but bland enough to have me reaching for a Toll House chocolate chunk macadamia nut cookie.
That was, until I discovered this recipe for Lemon Madeleines. The bright quality of citrus and the slightly bitter zing of the lemon zest play off the richness of the butter and egg yolk. Just the idea of them had me at my local cook shop, buying what I never thought I’d ever purchase–a couple of madeleine pans to add to my ever growing collection of bake ware.
I found this recipe in an old issue of Martha Stewart Living: April, 2003. Promising myself I wouldn’t buy any more cookbooks until I’d cooked my way through my old ones, I started looking through some of the magazines I’d been holding onto. I’m glad I did. Now I can have my own madeleine memories.
Martha Stewart’s Lemon Madeleines
Makes 2 dozen
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted
1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1) Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly butter two madeleine pans and set aside.
2) Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
3) In another bowl, beat the eggs, yolks, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, and zest until thick and pale, about 5 minutes. Beat in the melted butter.
4) Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
5) Pour batter into the prepared pans, filling until three-quarters full. Bake until cookies are crisp and golden around the edges, about 7-8 minutes.
6) Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool before inverting cookies onto a serving platter. Dust with icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar) if desired.
It’s important to let the batter rest; do not omit this step. This allows the flour to absorb the liquid and results in the moist crumb that is the hallmark of a madeleine. Also, be careful not to beat the batter. Gently fold, as beating the batter will develop the gluten and create a denser cookie.