It is a truth universally acknowledged that all posts about madeleines must contain a reference to Proust. Because everyone (even people who have never actually read a thing by Proust) know that he had a serious thing for these little shell-shaped pastries.
High-brow literary references aside, there's a good reason that madeleines inspire such adoration. They're neither cookie nor cake, but somewhere in the middle, and utterly perfect for dunking into a mug of hot tea.
The original lemon-scented version may be quite lovely... but it also lends itself to pretty much infinite adaptations depending on what's tickling your fancy at any particular moment in time. (Like those strawberry lemonade madeleines I shared a couple of years ago.)
Maybe it's because I've been obsessed with Mexican hot chocolate lately, but I couldn't resist trying a spicy cocoa variation, especially since Valentine's Day is right around the corner... because doesn't your favourite person deserve a treat that's as sweet and spicy as they are?
(And yes, that also applies if your favourite person is you. Treat yo' self!)
So I took my basic batter recipe, and gussied it up with all my favourite Mexican spices - cinnamon, vanilla, ginger, and a dash of chipotle for heat.
What you get is a little pastry that's thin and crispy around the edges, tender and soft in the middle, with a rich chocolate flavour and just enough heat to make your tastebuds perk up and pay attention. It's the complete opposite of Proust's memory-inducing concoction, but in the best possible way - where the original is delicate and ethereal, this one is complex and layered.
You can omit the chipotle if you're a wuss and can't handle the heat, but I really don't suggest it... the heat is what makes these little pastries so incredibly addictive.
Not sure if Proust would approve, but I most certainly do.
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- ⅔ cup sugar
- Pinch salt
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup flour
- ⅓ cup cocoa powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp chipotle powder
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 9 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
- Brush the madeleine mold with melted butter, making sure to coat all the nooks and crannies of the shell shape. Lightly dust with flour and then tap off the excess. Place in the freezer to chill while you prepare the batter.
- Using a mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, and salt for 5 minutes, until pale yellow and thick. Beat in the vanilla extract.
- In a second bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, spices, and baking powder. Sift into the eggs, a little at a time, folding in as you go.
- Fold the butter into the batter, a few spoonfuls at a time. Continue folding for a few more strokes, until all the butter is incorporated and you have a thick, glossy batter.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour. (The batter can rest for up to 12 hours at this point.)
- Preheat the oven to 425F.
- Remove the madeleine mold from the freezer. Drop a spoonful of batter into each indentation, just enough to fill it about ¾ full (I used about 2 tbsp for a full-sized madeleine pan). Do not spread.
- Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, or until the middle springs back to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for a few minutes,then unmold and let cool completely on the rack. Madeleines are best eaten the day they're made, but leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for another 2-3 days.