For some reason I miss Paris an even more unhealthy amount when fall rolls around. (Spoiler alert: you'll probably hear this again come spring). Maybe it's because I spent my fall semester there, but I think it's largely due to the grey, cool, cozy weather that rolls around this time of year. Paris is known for this weather and it's part of what makes it so special. The grey skies somehow make the architecture look more stunning and the Parisians look more chic (surprise surprise).
For those of you who are a little confused as to what a madeleine is, you're not alone. A madeleine is a small, rich, sponge cake that's baked in a shell shaped mould. They originated in Northeastern France and are not particularly sweet, but perfect for dipping into tea. I always forget that we have these madeleine baking sheets tucked away in our kitchen. They may not see the light of day very frequently, but when they do it's a special treat. Madeleine's are the perfect snack for when 4pm comes around, especially if you're having a visitor for tea. I used Ina's coconut madeleine recipe, with a couple adjustments (scroll down).
Even Proust loved madeleines!
No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory – this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. ... Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend it? ... And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before mass), when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom, my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane. The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it. And all from my cup of tea.
—Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time
1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter, to grease the pans, plus 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Thoroughly butter and flour the madeleine pans.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed for 3 minutes, or until light yellow and fluffy. Add 1/4 pound of butter and mix. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt, and stir into the batter with a rubber spatula. Stir in the coconut.
With a soup spoon, drop the batter into the pans, filling each shell almost full. Bake the madeleines for 10 to 12 minutes, until they spring back when pressed. Tap the madeleines out onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper and allow to cool. Dust with confectioners' sugar, if desired.
If you are looking for a little bit of a sweeter taste, I would use a full cup of sugar. I also dipped mine in dark chocolate (because why not). To do this I used a double boiler and melted about 2 cups of semi sweet chocolate chips, also adding a dash of cream. Then I dipped the cooled madeleines into the chocolate on a diagonal.