Madeleines are one of my favorite ways to have cake: they're shaped like cookies, which makes them like a portable version of a cake, and they're so toothsome and fluffy, all at once. I realized recently to my surprise that I have never actually posted a madeleine recipe publicly before, even though I've been making them for years and years! So, for my Anthology Magazine Blog post this month, I decided that this situation must be remedied.
I've made madeleines in so many different flavors before--saffron, berry, pumpkin, etc. etc.--but for my first public post, I wanted to go with something much more classic. Because sometimes, you don't have to mess with a good thing. So here they are: vanilla bean and thyme madeleines. My base recipe also uses a bit of coconut oil, for just a hint of floral aroma from the coconut underlying the cake. You can find the recipe on the Anthology Blog here. (All blog posts that have Anthology recipes will be updated one month after the initial posting with the recipe here on desserts for breakfast.)
My favorite moment with these madeleines is when I took a box of them into work, and offered one to a particularly prominent scientist in my department. While most people focus on the pretty, scalloped side of madeleines (versus the humpy backside -- which reminds me, this would be my totally non-classy theme song for madeleines :P), my colleague took a madeleine and flipped it scalloped side down. Holding it sideways, he looked at me with a smile and said, "Look! it's like a little boat! Toot toot!" while scooting the madeleine over imaginary waves. When I grow up, I want to maintain that sort of child-like playfulness in creativity and imagination!
Also, I picked these "wild" roses from my backyard. I sort of love how delicately imperfect they were, so fragrant but at the same time, completely fleeting in their beauty.
In a few weeks, I'm headed to Hawai'i (Oahu and Kauai), ostensibly for a work-related conference! I am. so. excited. If you have any recommendations for places to see or eat on those islands, please leave them in the comments below! Thank you!
While cupcakes might be the most popular form of single-serving cakes, my personal favorite miniature-cakes are madeleines--a cake in delicately-scalloped cookie form. I love them for their startling simplicity: no glaze or frosting is necessary. All one needs for a beautifully delicious madeleine is quality base ingredients and a good cup of afternoon tea to enjoy them with.
For these madeleines, I wanted to strip down the dessert to its most essential ingredients, because sometimes simplest is the best: vanilla bean and thyme. Vanilla bean brings a classical sweetness to these madeleines, which is balanced by woodsy, savory notes from the fresh thyme leaves. My go-to base madeleine recipe also uses coconut oil, which gives these cakes just the barest whiff of coconut--you know, for that little, mysterious bit of je ne sais quoi.
Vanilla Bean and Thyme Madeleines
Makes about 48 madeleines
10 tbsp butter
½ cup coconut oil
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
¼ cup fresh thyme leaves
Melt the butter and coconut oil. Cool to room temperature.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract. Slice open the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the eggs. Reserve the shell of the bean for future use. Beat the eggs on medium high for about 5 minutes, until very light and fluffy.
While the eggs are beating, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a separate bowl. Mix in the fresh thyme leaves.
Once the eggs have whipped and have nearly tripled in volume, fold the flour mixture into the eggs in two additions, combining well after each addition. Then fold in the melted butter and coconut oil until well-combined, but do not overmix. Cover the batter and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Meanwhile, place the rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 400°F. Butter and flour the madeleine pans. Scoop about a tablespoon of chilled batter into each madeleine mold well. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately turn the madeleines out onto a wire rack to cool. Let cool completely before serving. The madeleines are best eaten the day they are made.