Delicate madeleines, like the other cookies in this section, arenít easily categorized. These French tea cookies resemble tiny sponge cakes, yet they are not baked in a cake pan. Instead they are formed in small shell-shaped molds that each produce a single portion. But no matter what you call them, the result is an ethereal dessert, especially when eaten soon after they cool.
Traditional madeleine pans are made of tinned steel and are available here at Cooking.com. A pan for standard-size madeleines like those shown on the next page typically has 12 molds, each 3 inches long from the top of the shell to its base. Before baking, the molds must be brushed with melted butter or margarine so the fragile cookies will release easily after baking.
Madeleines will be especially light, airy, and moist if you keep two simple hints in mind when you prepare them. First, beat the sugar and eggs thoroughly (at least 5 minutes or more) until the mixture makes a thick, satiny ribbon on the surface of the batter when the beaters are lifted. Second, blend the batter with care so it doesnít deflate, especially when folding in the dry ingredients.
With a pastry brush, completely coat each madeleine mold with melted butter or margarine, making sure that each groove is coated so the finished cookies wonít stick to the pan. Or spray with nonstick spray coating.
Folding Flour into Eggs
Sift one fourth of the flour mixture over the egg mixture. Gently fold by cutting down through the center with the edge of a rubber spatula, coming across the bottom of the bowl, then lifting up along the side of the bowl in one smooth motion.
After the cookies have finished baking, let them cool in the pan for 1 minute. Loosen each cookie with a knife or skewer, then lift it out of the pan and place on a wire rack.
Sifting Powdered Sugar
Place all the madeleines ridged-side up on the rack. Spoon some powdered sugar into a fine-meshed sieve or perforated canister and tap it to lightly dust the tops of the cookies.