Sunday, January 29, 2012

I'm Changing My Name to Madeleine

You can never have enough Madeleines.  That's what I always say.  Well, that's what I say now that I promised to test several recipes against one another.  I must admit, I loved pulling that pretty little pan o'scallops out again.  Along for the ride, our faithful little scale to keep us honest. And a few new friends: my awesome basting brush and some wooden spoons.  Sorry, Bessy.  (That's what I call my 16-year old Kitchenaid Classic stand mixer.)  This one calls for some old fashioned sweat.  For good luck, the cutting from my Great-Grandmother's Christmas cactus looks on from the sunny window.

Hello, Again, Hello.
I chose this second Madeleine recipe because it had a decidedly different method of mixing from the first "easy" one, and it also originated with Julia Child.  Both of which really mean the same thing - it's done the hard way.  I'm not afraid to hand mix things, don't get me wrong.  But a cake?  Texture depending upon my arm strength?  Heh.

Will I faint while mixing "vigorously"?

Will everyone be getting Madeleine shaped paperweights for Valentine's Day this year?

Here's the thing.  The instructions say early on in the first mixing to "beat vigorously with a wooden spoon to blend into a heavy cream - if very stiff, add a little bit of the remaining egg, one droplet at a time."

One droplet?

Okay let's just be intimidating, shall we?  Because everyone knows that when I followed this recipe my mixture was nothing I imagine to be a heavy cream and was indeed quite stiff.  I swear, you guys, I really put forth the muscle with the wooden spoon.  I even did some yoga breathing beforehand to focus my core.

If the result is so sensitive as to be thrown off by a single droplet of egg...well, there ya go.  Julia, I love you but wow you were so fussy testing in France, weren't you?

Cut away to Julia in her Paris kitchen: standing over her bowl of eggs, flour, and sugar, loaded eye-dropper in her WWF wrestler-strong hand...

Bah.  Anyway, I added some additional egg and it loosened up enough for me turn my prayers to the melted browned butter which now needed to be stirred over cold water until cool but still liquid.   

Did I mention how much I love lightly browned melted butter?

Someone needs to invent perfume that smells like that.  Oh wait, Paula Deen may already have those rights...I digress.

The resulting batter looked and smelled lovely.  A bit more lemon fragrance came through this time.  This batter rested in the fridge for the hour as called for.  This stuff was thick like cookie dough, guys.

My hubby was so cute standing on a chair taking this picture.  My very own Paul Child.

Despite the viscosity of this batter it spread within the first four minutes of baking to entirely fill each scallop.  By the time they were eight minutes in, the humps were large and well-formed and the edges were already browning.  I had a feeling like I could have taken them out a minute or two shy of the 15-minute bake time but I didn't.  I wanted to follow this to a "T".

I need to back up a bit here and mention that I have never used melted butter mixed with flour to coat a baking vessel before.  Usually I just use cold butter and then flour the pan, tapping out the excess.  I found this intriguing and came to a conclusion that Julia was not using a non-stick Madeleine pan, and as I recall she and Paul tested this on ribbed scallop shells - like from real scallops - with success.  I don't know if my non-stick pan needed all that fuss, but the scalloped sides were very browned and even and it was a heck of a lot easier to brush the pan with that liquid than to hand butter each shell and then mess with the flour.

I love the little discoveries!

End result, guys.
So Purdee!  No it's not crack in the spoon.  Might as well be...
Compared to the first recipe, these came out a bit different.  The outer shells (especially the ridged side that lived with the melted butter/flour goo) had a firm almost biscotti-like crunch.  The insides, in my opinion were a little dense but still nicely textured, even with some little holes through them.  This may have been my fault in the mixing because let's face it, I'm no Kitchenaid.

Given the two recipes, I think I prefer the ease of the first.  The end result seemed more tender and delicate.  However, that said, this second recipe were divine for dipping into some coffee or tea with their sturdiness.  Much more cookie like on the outside.

Satisfaction meter: I'm giving these a 5.  I had to work harder and found happiness in the different result.  Besides,
Aren't they magnifique?
Cutaway: a simple home cook completes her Julia Child recipe with a smile, finding only one garnish that could serve as an ode to the great American French woman ~

Julia always wore pearls in the kitchen.

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