Mad for Madeleines

Author: Kirsti Kay, Dessert, Food, Food & Drink, Recipes, Sweets

Some people are born to sing or paint or play music. I was born to feed people. When I have friends over for dinner, I can’t help but make everything from scratch. I love orchestrating an evening from start to finish: flowers, table setting, music, cocktails and the food—lots of food. Planning a dinner party fills me with happy excitement. I get giddy poring through cookbooks and files of recipes; pairing dishes that complement each other, that will look pretty together on the plate and, most of all, will taste amazing.

Mad for Madeleines 1I spend more time on the dessert than anything else. Sometimes I wish I could just go to Costco and get one of their giant pies. They are delicious and pretty and no one would care that I didn’t make it. But I am a Sugar Nerd and buying a prefab dessert would be tantamount to lip syncing on SNL. Even though the dessert is the most time-consuming element of my dinner parties, it’s my favorite part.

Then one day, everything changed. I came across a recipe for Daniel Boulud’s madeleines. A madeleine is a miniature French butter cake baked in a shell-shaped mold. I had never been a big fan of them—the ones I ran into were usually dry and bland. But the thought of serving warm little cakes, hot from the oven and dusted with powdered sugar, tantalized me. So I made them the next time we had friends over for dinner.

Mad for Madeleines 2I have to add an “Ooh la la!” for emphasis here. We all kind of lost our minds. They were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside—lusciously buttery and not too sweet. The four of us ate every last one. We didn’t care. Everyone got a kick out of getting something hot from the oven and the house smelled so good! The best part: they took me ten minutes to make and I got just as many oohs and aahs as I do when I spend two days making dessert. I was liberated! These little babies are now my go-to dessert. Sometimes I serve them with fresh berries, other times with whipped cream. Most of the time, I already have the ingredients on hand—no more searching out hard-to-find things like almond paste or powdered egg whites! It’s also the perfect dessert for guests who are gluten-free. Just substitute the all-purpose flour with gluten-free flour. They are just as delicious. Please indulge me one last time: “Ooh la la!”

Now, when people are coming over for dinner, the only dessert decision I need to make is if the madeleines should have lemon, orange or grapefruit zest. Take that, giant Costco pie! I dream of you no more! Well, maybe I do when I take that nap with all the free time I have now. Those French know how to live! I truly get to have my cake and eat it, too. Ooh. La. La.

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MADELEINES (adapted from Daniel Boulud)

Mad for Madeleines 3INGREDIENTS
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp kosher salt
¾ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 large eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp light brown sugar
1 Tbsp honey
2 tsp finely grated lemon, orange or grapefruit zest
6 Tbsp (¾ stick) unsalted butter, melted and warm

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
Powdered sugar

Special Equipment: 1 madeleine pan (with 12 cake molds)*

INSTRUCTIONS
Whisk baking powder, flour and salt in a small bowl. Whisk eggs, sugar, brown sugar, honey and zest in a medium bowl until smooth. Add dry ingredients and whisk until just smooth. Whisk in melted butter. Pour batter into a large plastic resealable bag and chill for at least 1 hour. (DO AHEAD: Batter can be made the day before. Keep chilled until ready to use.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray madeleine pan with oil spray and dust with flour, tapping out the excess. Snip end off one corner of the plastic bag and pipe batter into the madeleine pan, filling molds two-thirds full.

Bake madeleines until the edges are golden brown and the centers are puffed up and spring back lightly when touched, about 7-8 minutes.

Release each cake gently with a toothpick or chopstick. Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm. Makes about 18 large Madeleines.

Receive tribute from guests.

 

*I like this madeleine pan, which can be purchased from Amazon.

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Nice Bundts

Author: Kirsten K., Entertaining, Food, Food & Drink, Sweets

In our health- and weight-obsessed culture, I find it amusing how often people feel the need to tell me about the desserts that don’t tempt them. Either they’ll mention that they have no desire for sweets—in which case I know immediately that we can never be friends—or they’ll say, “I like ice cream, but I couldn’t care less about cookies.” Or, “I love fruit desserts, but I can walk away from chocolate.” (Also not a candidate for friendship.) The one I hear most often is, “I have no interest in cake,” to which I respond, “Hello? Frosting.”

Nice Bundts 1Notwithstanding the whipped cream version (a betrayal!)*, I swoon over frosting. Vanilla buttercream on lemon cake, cream cheese frosting on carrot cake, chocolate ganache on anything—yes, please! Judging by the mountains I’ve seen atop bakery cupcakes and the increasing availability of frosting shots, I’m not alone. I have a friend who’s a talented cake decorator. She considered pursuing it as a career when her children were young, but decided to abandon it altogether when her daughter began to demonstrate an unhealthy obsession with frosting. The struggle is real.

A few years ago, a franchise of Nothing Bundt Cakes opened near my house and I began to receive coupons in the mail for a free Bundtlet. While I enjoy a good play on words, I might have chosen a different name for the chain, like Mind if I Bundt In?, A Bundt in the Oven, or the title of this post. I also have a touch of arachnophobia, and the ropes of frosting cascading down the sides of their Bundtlets remind me of nothing so much as the legs of a spider gripping its prey. Eek! Still, I’m not one to turn down a free offer of generously frosted cake, so I set out to redeem my coupon.

Nice Bundts 2There are some gift items for sale in the shop, but when it comes to the baked goods, it’s like the sign says. Kirsti’s guiding principle is: “Do one thing, do it well.” The shop carries only Bundt cakes in various sizes: 8″ and 10″ cakes, Bundtlets (single serving), and Bundtinis (bite-sized). All have the same cream cheese frosting. They come in a handful of flavors, including Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Red Velvet, and Cinnamon Swirl, with a special flavor every couple of months, but that’s as complicated as things get. I handed over my coupon and departed with my Bundtlet, feeling slightly guilty about getting “Nothing” for nothing.

In retrospect, I shouldn’t have felt remorse, because it was clearly a well-thought-out plot to take my money. One bite of their signature frosting and I knew I was in trouble. The cake itself was quite good, baked to perfection and super m-word (I am forbidden from actually using that word on this blog, due to my co-swooner’s extreme aversion), but let’s be honest: cake is just a delivery system for frosting, and this frosting is superbly balanced in every way—soft and creamy, rich and buttery, sweet and tangy. I am gainfully employed and this shop is one mile from my house. You do the math (i.e. addition of pounds, subtraction of dollars).

Nice Bundts 3I regularly enjoy half a Bundtlet with my afternoon tea. The frosting-to-cake ratio is extremely satisfying, particularly if you let the cake reach room temperature so that the frosting becomes smooth and spreadable. Kirsti likes to offer a tray of Bundtinis on the dessert table when she’s having a party. Convenient and portable in their sturdy paper cups, they are just the right sweet bite to carry around as you mix and mingle. For my birthday a couple of years ago, I decided to invite people over for dessert, at which I served a 10″ Bundt cake. It was the best turnout I’ve had in years.

Visit the Nothing Bundt Cakes website to find a location near you and pop in for a sample. You can also follow them on Facebook or sign up on their website to receive updates about special promotions and coupons. Over time, this can save you a Bundtle—and that’s the icing on the cake.

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Stuff Worthy Of Our Notice™ in this post:

Nothing Bundt Cakes

 

*There are few things I can get more whipped up about than whipped cream frosting. If I don’t feel the grease on my lips, it isn’t frosting!