Chocolate-Dipped Madeleine Recipe

The spongy, cake-like madeleine is a delicate cookie that derives from France. People have been dipping them in coffee or tea for centuries, all the while arguing over their exact history. No one knows precisely which real-life Madeleine made them or inspired them, but there are several competing stories of women named Madeleine who have served them to both kings and paupers alike.

Those who know a thing or two about the cookies may also tell you that a French author named Marcel Proust wrote about them in his novel, A Remembrance of Things Past. Since I've never read Proust, I don't really make that association when I hear the word madeleine. Instead, I am tempted to make another literary connection -- a decidedly less highbrow one -- of a book my mom used to read to me with cartoon illustrations on the cover of young girls who lived in Paris. They walked in "two straight lines" and wore matching yellow hats that were as bright and as round as the sun. 

This book was called Madeline and I asked my mom to read it to me tens of hundreds of times. I loved the story of this eponymous little girl because she was fearless and because she got to live next door to the Eiffel Tower, which was just about the coolest thing ever.

Even as a child, I sought refuge and inspiration through stories. I've been an English major and an English teacher and until the past year or so, I've always been a voracious reader, plowing through memoirs and novels as though they were my lifeline.

But this year, without even realizing it, I've been so busy and distracted and worried about my future that I haven't carved out space for reading books. I read blog posts and emails and news reports and recipes, but books have been demoted to a frivolous sort of hobby. Nothing I have time for in this frenzied life.

I forgot how much I missed them until this past week when my boyfriend gave me a book for my birthday. It's called Blood, Bones, & Butter and it's the memoir of a chef and restaurateur named Gabrielle Hamilton. It's pages contain some of the most magical storytelling I've encountered in ages. She writes of fireflies and lamb roasts, and spilled martinis in New York City dive bars. It's a book about survival, experimentation, and messy family ties. Reading it has renewed my spirit and reminded me that stories are something I need to make time for. They're more than a hobby; they're vital.

In a nostalgic sort of way, madeleine cookies give me that same reminder, which is why I thoroughly enjoyed making them this week. I hope they can be inspirational for you too -- in whatever way you may be needing it.

Chocolate-Dipped Madeleines
(adapted from the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook)

All-purpose flour       68 grams, or 1//2 cup
Baking powder         2.2 grams, or 1/2 tsp.
Kosher salt               1/4 tsp.
Eggs                         2
Granulated sugar       55 grams, or 1/4 cup + 1 tsp.
Unsalted butter          1/2 cube, or 4 Tbsp.
(at room temp)
Brown sugar             9 grams, or 2 tsp.
Clover honey            9 grams, or 1 1/4 tsp.
Lemon zest               1/4 tsp.
Melted Chocolate     3 ounces

Combine the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl, then whisk in the salt.

In a separate bowl, blend together the eggs and granulated sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for 1 minute. Increase the speed to high, and then whip for 4 more minutes until the color lightens and the batter doubles in volume.

Heat the butter, brown sugar, and honey in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat. Whisk to dissolve the sugar and blend everything together, then remove from the heat. This should only take about 1 minute, or so.

Take your flour mixture and fold half of it in with the egg and sugar mixture. (Check out this YouTube video if you need help with folding.) Once that has been evenly combined, fold in the other half of the dry ingredients using the same process, then add the warm butter mixture and the lemon zest. Keep folding the batter until it becomes smooth. Cover the batter with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If using a nonstick madeleine pan, simply coat it with nonstick cooking spray. If using a pan that isn't nonstick, you'll need to thoroughly butter and flour it to keep the batter from sticking. Either way, after you've prepared your pan, place it in the freezer for about 10 minutes to get it extra cold.

Use a cookie scoop to section small amounts of the cold batter (about 1 tablespoon) into the madeleine molds. Bake them for 8-9 minutes until the tops are lightly browned. Remove them from the pan immediately after taking them out of the oven and allow them to cool completely.

While they're cooling, you can use this time to melt the chocolate (if you're choosing to dip them in chocolate). Use your favorite type of chocolate chips -- milk, dark, semi-sweet -- and place them in a small sauce pan. Get out a large frying pan and cover the bottom of it with a generous layer of water. Place the frying pan on the stove top, and place the sauce pan in the middle of the frying pan so that the sauce pan is sitting in the pool of water. Turn the stove on to medium high, and continually stir the chocolate as it melts. Keep a close eye on the water in the pan below because you don't want it to start boiling, as it may get too hot and burn the chocolate.

Once the chocolate is fully melted and the cookies have cooled, line a tray with parchment paper, and take turns dipping each cookie in chocolate and placing the dipped cookie on the parchment paper. Wait until the chocolate has re-hardened, then enjoy!