It was a regular weekend except that it was gorgeous outside. P. and I decided to go out for the day to walk and picnic on Plum island. Only an hour drive North of Boston, Plum island is a tiny paradise for anyone looking for a secluded spot away from the city. With magical natural salt marshes, a myriad of interesting birds and wildlife everywhere along orange-tinted sandy beaches, you can forget about daily worries and stress. It is simply beautiful up there at this time of the year. In the summer, we come here often to bike and swim, probably not enough this year. It was a little chillier than the previous days but nothing that would prevent us from having our picnic on the beach. We were determined to have it there.
When we arrived around noon, the sun was high and bright, still casting a beautiful shade of orange so typical of around here. It was playful as well, with rays of light dancing between the multitude of sand-colored wild reeds bordering the marshes, just what we needed to keep our bodies warm. Or maybe it was the walk we took that made us feel toasty. We packed a bag full of goodies, prosciutto sandwiches with greens and avocado, a carrot salad, salt and vinegar crisps — P.’s favorites, en bon irlandais — , a few local red apples and a tall thermos of green tea. But what would a picnic be if there were not any sweet little nibbles to go along with a nice cup of warm tea?
I do not need to introduce you to les madeleines, these delicious moist French tea cakes. Of course, Marcel Proust made them famous — merci ! — calling them coquillages de la pâtisserie (pastry seashells) because of the special tins in which they are cooked. There are so many possible flavors and variations nowadays that I am sure that if I decided to make one variant every week of the year, I would never get short of ideas on how to prepare them. For me however, they remain even more special if chocolate is on the ingredient list. I know, not very original, pretty traditional as a matter of fact, but what can I say, I am just a victim and can confess that I am a real chocolate addict, une vraie ! And pretty happy this way.
Ah les madeleines ! Le paradis !
Only a few ingredients are needed: butter, eggs, flour, sugar and an additional flavor of your choice. The more traditional recipes use lemon zest or orange essence, just as for the madeleines de Commercy, which were the first madeleines I ever tasted really, as they are a speciality from where I am from in France. How can you resist their buttery, moist and light texture? They are easy to make, require some patience if you want to maximize your chances to get them right but in the end, are worth every effort put into making them. I prefer my chocolate madeleines on the dark chocolate side, using a flavorful 70% cocoa chocolate — like Valrhona — , so I am always stingy with the sugar I add to the preparation.
I had not made madeleines in a while but got inspired to after seeing so many lovely recipes around on the foodosphere, enough to trigger my inspiration to bake some. My madeleines might not be the same as the ones Proust would have eaten but still. I packed a few of these delicacies in our picnic bag. No need to say that they were gone in no time. And now I know one thing: I will not wait to go the beach next to bake a new batch. I just do not know why I left them dans l’oubli (forgotten ) for so long!
- 3 eggs
- 3.5 oz all-purpose flour
- 4.5 oz fine sugar
- 3.5 oz dark chocolate (70 %, Valhrona)
- 4 oz butter
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Place the chocolate and butter in a bowl and melt over a pot of simmering water. Let it cool down.
- Sift the flour and baking powder and keep on the side.
- Place the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until thicker.
- Reduce the speed and add the sugar progressively. Increase the speed to high again and beat until lighter.
- Remove the bowl and add the flour and baking powder with a wooden spoon.
- Add the cool melted chocolate and butter and blend, not overworking the dough.
- Place the batter in the fridge for a few hours before baking (minimum 1 hour).
- Fill special madeleine molds 3/4 full.
- Preheat your oven at 430 F (220 C) and cook the madeleines for 7 mns first so that they rise nicely, then reduce the heat to 350 F and continue to cook for 4 more mns.
Note: These madeleines can be kept for a few days in an air-proof metallic box but are much nicer if eaten the day they are cooked.
- 3 oeufs
- 100 g de farine multi-usage
- 125 g de sucre fin
- 100 g de chocolat noir (70 %, Valhrona)
- 115 g de beurre
- 1 càc de levure chimique
- Mettez le chocolat et le beurre dans un bol et faites-les fondre au bain-marie. Laissez refroidir.
- Tamisez la farine et la levure et mettez-les de côté.
- Mettez les oeufs entiers dans le bol de votre mixeur et battez-les jusqu’a ce qu’ils épaississent.
- Réduisez la vitesse et ajoutez progressivement le sucre. Augmentez alors la vitesse du batteur à nouveau, et continuez à mélanger jusqu’à ce que la préparation soit pâle de couleur.
- Ajoutez la farine et mélangez à la main, à l’aide d’une cuiller en bois.
- Ajoutez le chocolat et le beurre fondus refroidis, en prêtant attention à ne pas trop travailler la pâte.
- Mettez la pâte au frigo pendant quelques heures avant de cuire vos madeleines (1 heure minimum).
- Remplissez des moules à madeleines au 3/4.
- Préchauffez votre four à 220 C et cuisez les madeleines pendant 7 mns pour qu’elles montent bien, puis réduisez la température du four à 180 C, en poursuivant la cuisson pendant 4 mns supplémentaires. Démoulez-les sur une grille.
Remarque : Les madeleines peuvent se conserver quelques jours dans une boîte métallique mais sont bien meilleures consommées le jour même !