A few days ago, I was paging through ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’ by Julia Child, paying special attention to her chapter on desserts, and I noticed that the French seem to love the combination of almonds and apricot. Well, at least Julia uses it in a lot of her baking.
So, since I own a Madeleine pan, which I bought a few years ago for only a few bucks, I decided to make almond and apricot Madeleines. Because I thought it would tie in nicely with the whole French theme… AND because Madeleines, which are just tiny, shell-shaped cakes, are fun to make and delicious. And deliciousness is my thang!
Here’s how I made them…
If you’ve never made brown butter before, you can check out a detailed tutorial here. Once you’ve browned yourself some butter, set it aside to cool slightly while you proceed with the Madeleine batter.
Start by whisking together an egg and granulated sugar until the mixture has lightened in color. Add all-purpose flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt and whisk until combined. Then, add another egg and whisk again until smooth. That’s weird right? Adding a second egg after you’ve mixed in the dry ingredients? But hey, this recipe works, so I’m not complaining…
Anyway, add a dash of milk to the brown butter you’ve set aside to cool, then drizzle the mixture slowly into the batter, whisking continuously until smooth. Mix in a little vanilla and almond extract and that’s it! It shouldn’t take you more than fifteen minutes!
Oh, and about the almond extract, I only add a little… I think almond extract is very potent, and I didn’t want it to completely overpower the delicate flavors of the brown butter and the vanilla. Remember, you can always add more extract after tasting the batter if you prefer a more distinct almond flavor.
OR… if you don’t like almond extract to begin with, just don’t add it. Add more vanilla extract. Vanilla Madeleines are delicious. Or hell, make peppermint Madeleines for all I care! If it makes you happy, go for it! I’m not so sure I would like them, but we can’t all like the same things, right?
Once you’ve whipped up the batter, it’s important to allow it to rest. Resting the batter for 50 minutes at room temperature and chilling it in the fridge for another 10 minutes is what creates those cute little humps on top of the Madeleines.
And Madeleines are all about the humps, apparently…
Anyway, after resting, divide the batter over the molds of a buttered Madeleine pan, filling each mold almost to the top. Don’t worry about smoothing out the batter; it will even out in the oven. Sprinkle the batter with some shaved almonds and bake for 9-12 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of one of the Madeleines comes out clean.
Now, to remove the Madeleines, you need to work fast. Once the Madeleines are done, remove the pan from the oven and invert it over a baking sheet. Rap the pan gently onto the counter or the baking sheet and the Madeleines should fall right out. Unfortunately, this trick doesn’t quite work with cold or even warm Madeleines, so it’s important that you do this the second the Madeleines come out of the oven.
After that, you simply brush the shell-sides with a sweet apricot glaze made from apricot jam and a bit of water. The fruity tang of the apricot is great with the buttery Madeleines and rich almond taste! I’m not so sure it would pair well with peppermint, so if you’re going the peppermint route you may need to think of a different option…
Allow the Madeleines to cool slightly and serve immediately, if possible. Madeleines are at their absolute best when served still a bit warm from the oven!
- 90g (or ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, cubed
- 2 large eggs
- 100g (or ½ cup) granulated sugar
- 90g (or ½ cup + 2 tablespoons + ½ teaspoon) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- pinch of table salt
- 1½ tablespoons milk
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- 2 tablespoons shaved almonds
- 3 tablespoons apricot jam
- 1 tablespoon water
- First, brown the butter by placing it in a small saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring until the butter has melted. Crank up the heat to medium-high and allow the butter to come to a boil. The butter will start to sizzle and splatter violently as the water evaporates. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the sides of the pan every now and then to keep tiny splatters of butter on the sides of the pan from burning. After a few minutes, the milk solids in the butter will start to brown and the butter will start to smell nutty and delicious.
- Remove the butter from the heat and immediately pour it into a heatproof container to cool. If you were to leave the butter in the pan, the residual heat from the pan would burn it. Set the butter aside to cool while you make the batter for the madeleines.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together one egg and the sugar until foamy. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and whisk until incorporated. Whisk in the remaining egg until the batter looks smooth again. Then add the milk to the cooled (but still melted) brown butter and drizzle the mixture into the batter, whisking continuously.
- Finally, whisk in the extracts. Set the batter aside for 50 minutes at room temperature, then place in the fridge to chill for another 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, preheat the oven to 390°F and adjust oven rack to middle position. Butter a Madeleine pan and divide the batter among the molds, filling them almost to the top. There’s no need to smooth the batter, as it will even out as it bakes. Sprinkle over the shaved almonds.
- Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven, invert the hot pan over a cool baking sheet or a wire rack and gently rap the pan against the sheet/counter/rack to get the madeleines out of the pan. Set the madeleines aside to cool.
- Combine jam and water in a small saucepan and heat, stirring, until the jam loosens and melts into the water. Remove from the heat. Using a pastry brush, brush the shell-side of the madeleines with the glaze.
- Serve warm or at room temperature. Madeleines taste best on the day they’re made, but you can keep them, stored in an airtight container, for another day or two.