Chocolate & Vanilla Mini Madeleines

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As well as my usual Christmas presents of cookbooks and history tomes (A History of the Viking World, anyone?), I was lucky enough to pick up a couple of new bits of baking kit. Among them, a silicone Mastrad mini madeleine pan. So, obviously, I had to test it out for you all.

Madeleines are one of the most unassuming delicacies you’ll find in Parisian patisseries, but that buttery nuttiness and beautiful shell-shape arejust too good to resist. I mixed up two flavours – vanilla and chocolate – and made a nice little batch of each, plus some marbled ones. I’ve included the recipe for vanilla ones below, but to make them chocolate, simply take 10g each out of the almonds and flour and add 1 1/2 tablespoons of cocoa powder. Madeleines this size are perfect to pop one on your coffee saucer – though, to be honest, you’re probably going to end up eating at least three.

Ingredients
125 butter
100g icing sugar
40g ground almonds
40g plain flour
3 egg whites
2 teaspoons clear honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Extra icing sugar for dusting, or chocolate for dipping if you prefer

Makes: around 40 mini madeleines, or 12 large ones

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Method
First, liberally greasing your madeleine tin with a little butter or margarine and set aside.

Madeleines get their moistness and golden colour from beurre noisette; a technique that roughly translates as ‘brown butter’. To make it, melt the butter in a non-stick saucepan over a medium heat, then continue to heat gently until it turns a beautiful golden brown (being careful not to let it burn). Pour the butter through a sieve to strain it and leave to cool completely.

In the bowl of a standing mixer (or a mixing bowl with an electric beater), whisk the egg whites, vanilla extract and sugar together until light and at least doubled in size.

Sift the almonds and flour into the bowl and gently fold together. And I mean gently; to get the light crumb of a madeleine you need to avoid developing the gluten.

Next, pour over the beurre noisette and honey and fold together. Cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate for 40 minutes.

Spoon into the moulds, filling them almost to the top around the edges. Don’t be afraid to mound them higher in the middle; that gentle dome on the bottom is part of the madeleine’s charm.

Refrigerate again, uncovered, for about 20 minutes to let a skin form. While you’re waiting, preheat the oven to 170°C fan. Bake the madeleines for 8-10 minutes (10-15 if you’re making large ones) and then turn out onto a baking tray immediately.

Repeat until you have used all the mixture, then decorate with a dusting of icing sugar or half-dip them into a little melted chocolate. If you want to make marbled ones, simply spoon a little of each mixture into the moulds and swirl together one at a time. Then serve up with your mid-morning coffee or, for an extra-decadent treat, dip them in hot chocolate.

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