Monday, September 24, 2012

CINNAMON COCOA MADELEINES & HONEY MADELEINES

YAWN

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?" 

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?" 

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet. 

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It's the same thing," he said.” 
 – A.A. Milne 


Oh, those little habits of everyday life. It all starts with breakfast. Wake up first thing in the morning, out of bed with the sun and stumble into the kitchen, sometimes warm and cosy, other times chilly and less than welcoming. Automatic reflexes, we reach for the small pan, fill it halfway with tap water and place it squarely on the front burner; the milk pot, heavier, weightier, gets a splash or two of milk, enough for one, and balanced behind on the back burner. Three heaping scoops of coffee, heady fragrance filling the room, spilled into the filter sitting atop the old, stained ceramic coffee pot. We’ve always been a filter family and always will be. Force of habit, you know.

And then one sits down to table. Drops into the chair, not quite awake before that first drop of liquid energy passes the lips and slithers down the gullet, just the right amount of burn and sizzle to kickstart the body, get the blood moving, rev up the moxie! But (wo)man does not live by coffee alone! What to eat with that cuppa? Foodstuff to carry us through to lunch, fuel to get the work done. The most important meal of the day. This may very well be the most vital question of the day! I know that the wrong breakfast, simply missing one key element of that start-of-the-day ritual, can throw us completely off track, wreak havoc with the rest of the long, hard day ahead of us. And don’t we all need to wake up to the same thing every single morning? Force of habit, indeed. But more than that. Like waking to the same tone of the same alarm, the same series of gests always in the same order, the same taste of the same toothpaste in our mouth, the scent of the same soap rubbed into our skin; we need our regular morning routine or something is thrown off kilter. And that begins with breakfast.




Over the years, that ritualistic menu, the tidbits placed upon the table early every morning, may have changed, yet for wide swathes of time, the same treats are found on the counter, on our plate, repeated over and over again, fingers grabbing and wrapping around the same delicacies. Something inside must be satisfied, a basic need that only very specific foods can fill. We eat the same breakfast every day. At least I do. Force of habit.

Growing up, I would go through long, long periods of time eating bowls of cold cereal, always the same, day after day until I began craving another. And that other new cereal would replace the first day in and day out, tweaking me awake each and every morning for months on end. And cold cereal would then morph with absolutely no rhyme or reason into chocolate poptarts or warm toast slathered with salted butter and dusted generously with cinnamon-sugar. But whatever the food of choice, there it was, on the breakfast table, my own morning routine, a quasi-religious communion every single calendar day.

As I grew older, left home, wended my way to France and married, the same morning ritual continued. Although the food changed, milk became instant coffee became filtered topped with a froth of hot milk, café au lait, if you please, the necessity to wake myself up each and every day with the same choice of carbs didn’t vary one iota. For several years, I just had to bite into a chunk of fresh baguette, buttered and jammed, dunked into said mug of steaming coffee. Not a croissant, nor a slice of brioche, nor chocolate cake. Only a chunk of baguette, buttered and jammed. A move to Italy changed all that once again, and we stockpiled boxes of prefab cakes, individually wrapped, with the familiar little logo of the White Mill on the package. For weeks and months it would have to be Nastrine, then I would empty one box of chocolatey Trancini until the craving, the need to start each morning with a Ciambellina or two would hit me. Each one of us would have our own preferred cake or cookie, and rarely would we tap into someone else’s box. Nope. It always had to be the same thing.

Then back to France. Oh, we found similar kinds of cakes, but that didn’t last very long. A change of culture naturally meant a change of breakfast food, and to each his or her own. And for the last I-don’t-know-how-many years I have eaten two – and only two – sweet little pains au lait with cherry jelly every single morning. Nothing else will do. Oh, on the occasional trip out of town, my pains au lait will happily be replaced with chunks of bakery-fresh baguette, but in my own home, in my own kitchen, those delicate, moist, brioche-like rolls are an absolute must or my entire day is ruined.



My husband, on the other hand, is a bit less rigid. If I have baked a cake, layer cake, quick bread or coffee cake, or cookies, a fruit pie or tart, he’ll dig in. But when no home-baked goods are to be seen, he reaches automatically for the bag of store-bought St. Michel brand Madeleines. Once in a blue moon, he’ll slice them in half lengthwise and smear each half with jelly, but usually two, three or four bright yellow vanilla Madeleines are simply dunked into his bowl of black coffee.

This week disaster struck. The tight schedule of renovations on the new apartment has meant no time, energy or focus to bake. We have been relying on packaged foods, or ready-made lasagnas, fresh pastas and cold cuts picked up on the way home after a morning or afternoon of tiring manual labor. Once every two weeks, son and I make the trip to the grocery store to stock up on staples, including two packages of pains au lait and a jar of cherry preserves for me, and a bag of St. Michel Madeleines for JP. And they were out of Madeleines. The following morning, this small detail having slipped my mind (I, after all, had my own breakfast.), he looked at me questioningly as I laid the breakfast table, as the coffee was dripping through filter into pot, and he asked “You didn’t buy Madeleines yesterday?” Oy!


And the point of the story is that I promised to make him Madeleines. And I did. Cocoa Madeleines with a hint of cinnamon and Honey Madeleines. A huge tinful of Madeleines to sate his morning craving, his breakfast appetite. And happy he was.

He that but looketh on a plate of ham and eggs to lust after it 
hath already committed breakfast with it in his heart. 
- C.S. Lewis 


Some like it hot, some like it cold, some drink coffee, some prefer orange juice. And you, dear reader, do you have one single particular food you absolutely must eat every single morning, day in and day out, in order to properly begin your day?

CINNAMON COCOA MADELEINES
Adapted from recipes in Madeleines et Financiers by Thomas Feller

Makes 12 large + 20 mini or 30 mini madeleines

2 large eggs
10 Tbs (140 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature + more for the molds
½ cup + 2 Tbs + 2 tsps (140 g) granulated sugar
½ tsp vanilla
Scant ¾ cup (100 g) flour
1 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
A pinch of salt

* For an added flavor boost, add 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier, Amaretto, Limoncello or Kahlua, or replace the ground cinnamon with 1 to 2 teaspoons instant, powdered coffee or espresso.

Separate the eggs, placing the whites with a few grains of salt in a very clean bowl, preferably plastic or metal. Beat the whites until soft peaks hold and then gradually add about 2 teaspoons of the sugar while you continue beating. Beat until stiff peaks hold. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl and using an electric mixer, beat the softened butter with the rest of the sugar until well blended and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks, the vanilla and a pinch of salt until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the flour, the cocoa powder and the cinnamon and beat in just until combined and smooth.

Fold the whipped whites, gently but firmly, into the Madeleine batter until completely blended in and no more white is visible. The batter should be thick and completely smooth.

HONEY MADELEINES
From recipes in Madeleines et Financiers by Thomas Feller 

Makes 12 large + 20 mini or 30 mini madeleines
2 large eggs
10 Tbs (140 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature + more for the molds
½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
2 Tbs liquid honey
Scant ¾ cup (100 g) flour
A pinch of salt

Separate the eggs, placing the whites with a few grains of salt in a very clean bowl, preferably plastic or metal. Beat the whites until soft peaks hold and then gradually add about 2 teaspoons of the sugar while you continue beating. Beat until stiff peaks hold. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl and using an electric mixer, beat the softened butter with the rest of the sugar and the honey until well blended and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks and a pinch of salt until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the flour and beat in just until combined and smooth.

Fold the whipped whites, gently but firmly, into the Madeleine batter until completely blended in and no more white is visible. The batter should be thick and completely smooth.

Prepare the Madeleines:

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Butter the indentations in your Madeleine molds/tins. I used large 3-inch long x 1 ¾-inch wide Madeleine molds (8-cm x 4 ½-cm) and round, shallow 2 ¼-inch diameter molds (6 cm). Making two batters, I filled the large Madeleine molds twice and the round molds once.

Prepare the two batters. Spoon equal parts batter – or one or the other – into the indentations not coming up higher than the edges of the indentations. You can marble the two batters by cutting a sharp knife through the two colors. Or you can make single flavor cakes.

Place in the preheated oven and bake: about 15 or 20 minutes for the large Madeleines, 10 to 15 minutes for the shallow, round tins. Remove the tins from the oven when the center of each Madeleine is set and puffed (slightly – with this recipe don’t expect huge, classic humps in the center) and the edges are golden. Allow the Madeleines to cool for a minute or two in the tins on cooling racks before popping them out, one by one, using the point of a sharp knife and a gentle hand.

Repeat with cooled tins, just wiped out and lightly buttered again, and the rest of the batter.

23 comments:

Robin said...

I can relate to your account of the crucial morning routine. If I don't start my day with my iced hazelnut coffee and mixed berry scone from Champignon I don't feel right. If mornings take me elsewhere I go later in the day to set things right. As it gets colder I'll switch to that delicious, creamy oatmeal with raisins and bananas that you remember.

Jamie said...

@Robin: Oh, Robin, your comment brought tears to my eyes! If I lived in NYC, you know I would change my habit in a flash to be able to have a café au lait and a scone or a bowl of oatmeal with you at Champignon every morning!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

We only have a morning routine on weekends or when we are on holiday. Otherwise, I never have breakfast (just a huge pot of green tea) and my BF generally eats his granola while standng up... ;-P

Lovely Madeleines! I bet they taste a hundred times better than the bought ones.

Cheers,

Rosa

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

Pooh's comment is one of THE best to describe me.

Your madeleines look fabulous Jamie. Now I must dust off my madeleine pan and get to work.
Sam

Terra said...

My friend found a madeleine pan at a garage sale, I thought that was the best find EVER! Love your mix of flavors, they sound delicious:-) Hugs, Terra

Helene Dsouza said...

I never ever say no to madeleines and I dont know anybody who doesnt love them. I want to try your cocoa madeleines, because I am just used to the ones from my family.

You know the Cassecroute bicuits Jamie? I used to have that for breakfast when I was small. =)

Erica said...

Those cookies look amazing and I love your writing style!

Maureen | Orgasmic Chef said...

I'm a breakfast failure after reading this. I never have the same thing two days in a row and sometimes nothing at all. Is it too late to create a routine? I kinda like the madaleines for breakfast idea.

Minnie@thelady8home said...

Madeleines are one of my most fav things ever. Those look so soft and delicious, I can feel them melting in my mouth.

We always had Sunday ritual while growing up. It would always be a special kind of noodles. I follow it now too. But now, it's the ony day we have bacon and eggs, so all of us wait for Sunday mornings eagerly.

Ivy said...

Since we moved my neighbour is spoiling us with free range eggs and I can't resist having a soft boiled egg with toasted bread and then a second slice of bread with butter, Greek honey, topped with smoked turkey and cheese! I have to get on the scale soon:)
I still haven't made medeleines and it's almost two years now since I bought the madeleine pans!! Now I have no more excuses to make some soon and pay back my good neighbour:)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I adore that snippet from Pooh! In fact I'm going to read it out to hubby who loved Pooh as a child :D And I'm intrigued to read that you have that every day too! Hope the renovations are going well?

Rambling Tart said...

That's one of my favorite Pooh and Piglet quotes. :-) Madeleines sound like a perfect morning tradition. :-) My morning isn't quite right without espresso, creamy and slightly sweet. :-)

Lora said...

I would eat these any time of the day. Yum!

Denise said...

I remember those lines from Pooh. I adored (and still do) Pooh and Piglet when I was growing up. Still brings a little tear to the corner of my eye when I read about them.

Now, I have to say, you are AMAZING. Re-doing a house and baking (still). LOVE IT!

xo

Junglefrog said...

Ah yes those morning rituals... Ours is very different from yours although it does involve coffee.. ;) For more then 20 years now we start our day with a cup of coffee in bed before rising (well obviously we have to rise to make the coffee) and some yogurt and fruit... I would like some of your madeleines though!

La Table De Nana said...

They are beautiful..We are such routine ritual people you have no idea:)I love breakfast..

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

My morning ritual involves coffee, 2 cups, right when I get up. But the breakfast itself will vary somewhat: eggs scrambled with bits of vegetable during the week, on most days. On the weekends I'm more likely to eat leftovers of whatever I made for dinner, even that involves hot and spicy dishes!

Lisa said...

The food may change but the routine did not. Although I love all breakfast food, I'm never hubgry enough in the morning to lay out a full breakfast table. Of course I will when I have children (knock wood), but for now it's a piece of toast or a smoothie. How I'd love your Madelines for breakfast! What a sweet gesture to make him two kinds since they were out of them at the store. That's love :)

Jeanne said...

LOL - I am also a breakfast creature of habit - well, r days of one habit and 2 of another: yoghurt with honey and museli with an apple on weekdays; toast with salted butter and jam on weekends. Clearly we have a pretty high boredom threshold ;) But I woudl break my routine for some of these babies...

simple recipes said...

Simple and delicious recipes

Cake Duchess said...

ah, Pooh-so sweet:)I have a morning ritual. I'm sure JP is thrilled when you bake him these delicious Madeleines. Hot out of the oven and divine!:)

Barbara | Creative Culinary said...

I have a very boring morning routine. Well, sort of a routine. Coffee and toast. Occasionally I will spice it up with homemade granola. When I see some of the breakfasts folks are enjoying I'm in awe. But...I could do these! I have a madeleine pan I have never used. Must change that huh?

Lorraine Joy Alegria-Vizcarra said...

I love these recipes.

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