I found this recipe in a magazine a couple of years ago. Madeleines are little French shell-shaped cake confections dating from around the 19th century, and their origins and name are slightly unclear. This air of mystery makes them all the more charming to me. I have been meaning to bake them ever since I cut out the recipe, and even bought a madeleine tin at the time, but for some reason just never got round to making them.
I love to make tiny confections to gift to friends and family when I visit them. It’s such a special and glamorous gift. I always adorn them with fresh rose petals to add to their glamour. In Ayurveda, the sweet taste symbolises love and kindness, and all things related. Love is soft, unctuous, healing, grounding and stabilizing.
Too much sugar, of course, is not good for our health, but denying ourselves a little bit of a sweet treat every so often is equally damaging for our emotional health. That’s why I love to make individual cakes like these. They are a bite-sized dessert to be enjoyed with a glass of mint tea at the end of a meal, offering all the goodness of the sweet taste and its transference of love, without causing us any ill-health effects.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a madeleine tin. I made my first batch in a mini cupcake tin, as I couldn’t find my two year old still unused madeleine tin, and they turned out perfectly formed and delicious. So if you have a mini cupcake tin, don’t go out specially to buy a madeleine tin, unless you think you’ll be be making these little beauties regularly. Although I do think you will, once you realise how easy, yet hugely impressive they are. Once I’d located the tin, I made the correct shaped ones the following week, which I have to say, were exquisitely perfect, both in taste and form.
Makes around 18
You will need a 12 hole madeleine tin or mini cupcake tin
100g unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for the moulds
Put the eggs and sugars in a large bowl and, using an electric hand whisk, mix until fluffy. Add the rest of the ingredients and whisk again or mix well with a wooden spoon. You should have a thick batter. If it is too thick, add a splash of milk. Leave to rest for 20 minutes. In the meantime heat the oven to 170C fan or 190C non-fan. Brush the moulds of the madeleine tin with a little melted butter, and coat with a very light sprinkling of plain flour (I first put a teaspoon of flour in a tea strainer and shook it over each mould, adding a little more flour as required).
Spoon the batter into the 12 moulds. You will need to bake them in 2 batches. Place the first batch in the oven for 10-12 minutes until they are golden brown. When slightly cooled, remove onto a cooling rack.
While the second batch is cooking (there will be enough batter for around 6 more cakes) place the sugar and lime juice in a small saucepan over a low heat. Let it bubble for a couple of minutes or more until it becomes a syrup. Remove from the heat.
Once all the madeleines are cooked and slightly cooled on the rack, brush the rounded ends with some syrup and dip into dessicated coconut.
The madeleines should keep for around a week in an airtight container, but are best enjoyed on the day they’re baked.