January 13, 2016

Meyer Lemon Madeleines

Happy New Year!  I hope everyone is enjoying the start of the new year.  I am excited about my first post of the new year: Meyer Lemon Madeleines.

Before I tried them, I used to think that madeleines were seashell-shaped crunchy French butter cookies.  Since I tend to prefer cookies with chocolate, I don't ever really remember eating them.  That changed a few years ago after I received a madeleine pan from one of my sisters, who enjoyed getting them as a treat at Starbucks.  It was not until making them that I discovered that these are not cookies but rather unique little cakes that are golden and slightly crispy on the outside but spongy and soft on the inside.  When I previously made madeleines, they were good but usually quite dry by the next day, so I was never eager to bake them often---until recently.

Over Thanksgiving, my family met up in Las Vegas.  While in Vegas, my parents and I dined at the Robuchon Restaurant at the MGM Grand.  Joël Robuchon is a French chef who was named the "Chef of the Century" from Gault Millau and was awarded Meilleur Ouvrier de France (France's Best Craftsman).  He has written several cookbooks and owns restaurants around the world, with a total of 25 Michelin stars (the most of any chef in the world!).  

Suffice to say, dinner there was a true gastronomical adventure.  Every course was a work of art and meticulously plated.  The food was refined with a unique and amazing profile.  As classy as it sounds, the bread cart contained the best carbs that I've ever put into my mouth.  Additionally, there was a separate cart for the butter that contained a tower of rich, creamy butter from Brittany, France, and the butter was carved and plated with a touch of salt.  ;-)

Dining at Robuchon was a very special evening with my parents, and this dinner was the best meal that I have ever had.  As a parting gift, we received a lemon blueberry cake.  Even after bringing it back to Denver, it stayed perfectly moist and flavorful.  I was so impressed by Robuchon's cuisine, techniques, and style that I immediately ordered his cookbook the Complete Robuchon.  What better place to start, right?

There are many different ways to bake madeleines.  Some recipes call for whole eggs, and some only use a mix of egg whites and yolks.  I've made madeleines with clarified butter to bring out the nuttiness of the butter.  Most called for granulated sugar and a drizzle of honey.

When I stumbled across Robuchon's madeleine recipe, I was surprised to see that it was completely different from other recipes that I've tried, as it uses confectioners' sugar, egg whites, and almond flour.  Robuchon's recipe resulted in madeleines that were simply exquisite and the best that I have ever tried (or made!).  It is amazing how almond flour and whipped egg whites transformed this into something so special.  Since I had Meyer lemons on hand, I also added in zest from the lemons along with some juice.  Meyer lemons are a cross between lemons and oranges, but they are not tart as normal lemons and not overly sweet.

These little cakes are a divine treat to enjoy with a cup of afternoon tea.  They are definitely something to make for a special occasion or when you want to do something sweet for someone.  These madeleines also reminded me of the lemon blueberry cake from the Robuchon Restaurant, so making these madeleines will help me remember that special culinary experience.  C'est bon!

Meyer Lemon Madeleines
Yields 1 dozen

1 stick (110 grams) butter, plus extra butter for greasing the madeleine pan
1/3 cup (45 grams) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting the greased madeline pan
1/4 cup (40 grams) finely ground almond flour
3/4 cup (110 grams) confectioners' sugar
3 large egg whites
1/2 tbsp. honey
3 tablespoons Meter lemon juice
Grated zest of one Meyer lemon

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat.  Once melted, remove from heat and set aside to cool.

While the melted butter cools, coat the madeline mold with the extra (unmelted) butter, and sprinkle with flour.  Tap the pan and shake the flour around to spread evenly, and pat out any excess. (I would suggest doing this over your kitchen sink so you don't have an extra mess with flour on your counter.)

In a medium bowl, use a whisk to mix together the all-purpose flour, almond flour, and confectioners' sugar.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites until they become fluid.  Then, add in the flour mixture and mix until full combined.  Slowly stir in the melted butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, honey, and continue to whisk until the batter is smooth.

Spoon the batter into the madeleine molds so that they are almost filled to the top.  Refrigerate for at least one hour.

While the madeleines firm in the fridge, preheat the oven to 400ºF.  After an hour, bake the madeleines for 12 to 15 minutes, until the lightly golden and firm to the touch but still tender.  Remove from pan from the oven and lightly tap the pan on the counter to loosen the cakes from the mold.  Tip them onto a cooling rack.  If needed, use a small spoon or knife to loosen any madeleines stuck on the pan.

Serve warm or at room temperature.  When the madeleines have cooled, you can keep them in a sealed container.

Source: The Complete Robuchon

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