Monday, November 8, 2010

Chickadees and Fluff-Filled Chocolate Madeleines

Feeding Chickadees

 Do you ever think
This could be your last week?
Last day?
Last moment?
What do you dream?
Would you change anything?

What would be on your
day-to-day to-do list?
What would be on your
life's to-do list?

Which one will you do?

There's always
hair to wash
mundane things.

I want to
Splash in puddles
Get muddy
Dance in the rain
Do something I've never done.

And dream
Of what is
And what could be.


Life is transient,
always re-focusing
changing aperture.
But it's always about the light.
Capturing the right light.
Moving to find it.
Or sometimes patiently waiting for it to
change its angle
or find you.

waiting for

Chocolate Madeleines

Reflections on life and Madeleines somehow seem to go together. Maybe it's because when we think of Madeleines, we remember Marcel Proust’s autobiographical novel, Remembrance of Things Past, which begins with his mother serving him tea and "those short, plump little cakes called petits Madeleine’s, which look as though they had been molded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim's shell."

As the narrator begins to eat his Madeleine, dipping it into the tea, he is overcome with memories and he becomes aware that the simple Madeleines bear “. . . in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.”

However, as charming as that recollection is, according to Patricia Bunning Stevens:

“Madeleine’s had existed long before Proust’s boyhood. Numerous stories, none very convincing, attribute their invention to a host of different pastry cooks, each of whom supposedly named them for some particular young woman. Only three things are known for sure. One is that Madeleine is a French form of Magdalene (Mary Magdalene, a disciple of Jesus, is mentioned in all four gospels). Another is that Madeleines are always associated with the little French town of Commercy, whose bakers were said to have once, long ago, paid a "very large sum" for the recipe and sold the little cakes packed in oval boxes as a specialty in the area. Finally, it is also known that nuns in eighteenth-century France frequently supported themselves and their schools by making and selling a particular sweet.

Commercy once had a convent dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene, and the nuns, probably when all the convents and monasteries of France were abolished during the French Revolution, sold their recipe to the bakers for an amount that grew larger with each telling."
---Rare Bits: Unusual Origins of Popular Recipes, Patricia Bunning Stevens [Ohio University Press: Athens] 1998 (p. 178)
Whatever its origin, these delightful pastries have become a national treasure for the French and I was thrilled, in June of this year (2010), to experience eating an authentic Madeleine in Paris, France.

I also love making Madeleines myself and have experimented with various versions. They are not only fun to make and tasty, but they are also dainty to eat. Not nearly as messy as our ever popular cupcake.

This recipe is for Fluff-Filled Chocolate Madeleines, from Dorie Greenspan’s book, Baking: From My Home to Yours.

The photo of the Fluff-Filled Chocolate Madeleines is taken against a backdrop that is actually a table runner of riddles; not exactly the Proust Questionnaire, but definitely a conversation starter!

Recipe for Fluff-Filled Chocolate Madeleines

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the Dip
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 and 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Click here for the recipe and method.

This antique Madeleine pan was given to me this summer
by my mom and dad to mark half-a million visitors to my blog.
Thanks to everyone for stopping by!
It's been a great ride!
Live well!

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    Sara said...

    Gorgeous! These look soooo delicious. :)

    Chelsea said...

    I've been dying to try Madelines! I'm getting my grandma's Madeline pan the next time I'm home, this will be the first recipe I try :)

    lis said...

    what a beautiful pan!

    Lynda said...

    Thank you for being so open by sharing your feelings in your poem. It is very moving and makes me want to cherish every day and every moment.

    Anonymous said...

    Beautiful post - and I've never made homemade mandelines - I need to find a pan - stat!

    Anonymous said...

    I love how your blog is filled with poetry and the history of everything you make. I'm sure these madeleines won't disappoint when I try them out!

    Chats the Comfy Cook said...

    How did I miss this recipe in Dorie's book? I thought, I read it forward and backwards. This sounds like I want to try it.

    Your antique pan is gorgeous. I don't even have a madeline pan. The only time, I made them, I used a mini muffin pan.

    Anonymous said...

    I LOVE that pan. And your poem. It's nice to see how people use different writing styles on the same topics. Very tasty looking madelines as well!

    Unknown said...

    Beautiful post, and gorgeous madeleines. I'm lusting over that pan, WOW! And congratulations on half a million <3