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Madeleines

Yield:12 madeleines
This is one of my favorite French cookies, second only to French meringue cookies.  I used to make them as a kid for my father who enjoyed them as well.  They do require the purchase of a Madeleine mold (tin or silicone, I recommend silicone).  This recipe comes from the book Paris Sweets by Dorie Greenspan.  The finished Madeleines may be either dusted with powdered sugar or dipped in chocolate or eaten plain.  Guess which way I like them!

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp double-acting baking powder
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1. Sift together the flour and baking powder and set aside.  Using a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar together on medium-high speed until they thicken and lighten in color, 2 to 4 minutes.  Beat in the vanilla.  Switch to a large rubber spatula and stir in the lemon zest.  Gently fold in the dry ingredients, followed by the melted butter.  Cover the batter with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal, and chill for at least 3 hours, preferably longer--chilling helps the batter develop its characteristic crown, known as the hump or bump.  (The batter can be kept tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.)

2. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  If your madeleine pan is not nonstick, generously butter it, dust the insides with flour, and tap out the excess.  If the pan is nonstick, you still might want to give it an insurance coating of butter and flour.  If it is silicone, do nothing.  No matter what kind of pan you have, place it on a baking sheet for easy transportability.

3. Divide the batter among the molds, filling them almost to the top.  Don't worry about smoothing the batter, it will even out as it bakes.

4. Bake large madeleines for 11 to 13 minutes, small ones for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cookies are puffed and golden and spring back when touched.  Pull the pan from the oven and remove the cookies by either rapping the pan against the counter (the madeleines should drop out) or gently running a butter knife around the edges of the cookies.  Allow the madeleines to cool on a cooling rack.  They can be served slightly warm or at room temperature.