“And suddenly the memory returns.”
So writes Marcel Proust in “Remembrance of Things Past”. At the taste of “those short, plump little cakes called 'petites madeleines,' which look as though they had been molded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim's shell”, the speaker is transported to a world of warmth, of wonder, and of memory.
Food possesses this magic in spades. How often do we taste – or even more likely, smell – something that takes us back to childhood, to the people who we loved and whose kitchens we associate with the poignant moments of our pasts?
I grew up on Manhattan’s lower west side, on the edge of a neighborhood called the meatpacking district. When I lived there, it was teetering on the cusp of transitioning into the gentrified, high-end district is it today.
I can recall going for walks with my father, riding on his shoulders far above the cobblestone streets, and visiting one bakery in particular. Today, I wouldn’t be able to pick out the façade of this bakery out of a photo lineup, but I remember their madeleines. The small, French cakes fit perfectly into my toddlers’ hands, and their delicate vanilla flavor was pleasing to my childish taste buds. They were given to me in an open-mouthed wax paper bag: one for now, one for later.
These health-conscious madeleines are guaranteed to evoke the memory of every delicious, sugary little cake you’ve ever tasted - they’re so good you’ll forget you’re on a sugar-free diet. Moist and buttery, with a light flavor of vanilla and just a hint of lemon, my family and I all agreed these madeleines are a dead ringer for the originals.
2 cups almond flour
2 tbsp coconut flour
¼ tsp cream tartar
1/8 tsp baking soda
⅛ tsp salt
¼ cup + 2 tbsp salted butter, melted
3 ¾ tsp pure vanilla extract
2 ½ tsp liquid stevia
1 tsp lemon zest
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease the madeleine tin with butter and set it aside for now.
In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, coconut flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Stir to combine.
In a separate, medium-sized bowl, beat three eggs. To the beaten eggs, add the melted butter, vanilla extract, liquid stevia, and lemon zest. Stir these to combine.
Add the wet ingredients into the dry and mix them together into a sticky, wet batter. Spoon this batter into the individual molds on the madeleine tray. Each mold should have enough of the batter to fill it completely, with a little extra piled on, rising about ¼ to ½ inch above the rim of the mold. This, once baked, will create the classic “hump” characteristic of the back of the madeleine cookie.
Bake the madeleines for 13-15 minutes, rotating at the halfway point to ensure even baking. The cakes should not brown, but should feel springy to the touch.
So what are you waiting for? Get to baking; get to memory-making!