Santanna Salas, executive pastry chef at Haven Gastropub in Orange and Pasadena, knows that a madeleine should be a delicate sponge cake on the inside, with an oh-so-subtle lightly browned crust on the outside. She says that the classic French cookie should be served warm, fresh from its special pan clad with rows of scallop-shell indentations. She uses silicone pans because they are easier to clean and once baked, the madeleines pop out more easily.
Dipped into hot tea or coffee, or served with ice cream or whipped cream, or simply noshed plain and simple, madeleines are divine.
But she takes them over the top, serving them on Haven’s Cookie Plate along with three additional freshly-made, still-warm cookies: her nutter-butter cookies, her version of Oreos and her rendition of chocolate chip.
See Santanna’s secrets for her delicious madeleines in this short video.
Many of her dessert creations venture to the road less traveled. They are unexpected yet irresistible, such as her pots du crèmes topped with slivers of candied butternut squash or the now-banned foie gras cheesecake that has received rave reviews from coast to coast.
Here is her recipe for madeleines that are flavor-boosted with the addition of lemon and orange zest. If you have a Microplane zester, it is perfect for removing just the outside of the citrus that is rich with fragrant oils; the device leaves behind the bitter white pith.
Yield: about 3 dozen, but number depends on size of molds
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon softened unsalted butter
2 cups plus 1/3cup granulated sugar
6 large eggs
Minced zest of 1 orange
Minced zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons (or to taste) vanilla extract
Nonstick vegetable spray
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place flour and baking powder in a bowl; set aside. In the large bowl of an electric mixer using the flat paddle, cream the butter and sugar on medium-low speed until light in color and fluffy. If you take a pinch of the mixture between your thumb and finger, you can feel only a slight graininess.
3. On slow speed, add eggs one at a time, beating about 10 seconds between additions. Add dry ingredients and mix on slow speed just until blended. Add zest and vanilla; mix just until blended.
4. Spray madeleine pans with nonstick spray. If using silicone molds, set them on a rimmed baking sheet. Either spoon batter into molds filling them half full, or use a pastry bag with a small plain tip to half-fill each mold (watch the video to see how easy this is).
5. Bake in preheated oven until lightly golden and madeleines feel spongy and spring back when poked with a fingertip, about 12 minutes for medium-size molds. Remove from oven. Remove cookies using a small palette knife or butter knife to pry them out, using caution not to burn your fingers and place on cooling rack. If left in the pan to cool, they will be troublesome. They are best eaten warm, but cooled on rack, they can be kept for 2 or 3 days stored in an airtight container at room temperature. (Am I kidding? At my house they are gone in hours!)
Source: Santanna Salas, executive pastry chef Haven Gastropub, Orange and Pasadena
A quick tip from Melissa’s …
Muscatos, Melissa’s signature table grapes, are so delicious they make other varieties seem ho-hum in comparison.
Available from late July through October (with a lapse mid August), the Black Muscato is my favorite grape, although the red and green varieties are delicious as well and are close runner-ups. They have such rich, deep jammy flavor. Sweet and yes, jammy.
This year the Black Muscato grapes brixed around 22, whereas most table grapes brix around 16. Sugar levels are measured with a brix refractometer, a devise that measures sugar levels. Darn impressive, right?
My favorite way to serve Melissa’s Black Muscato grapes is with a slab of Roquefort cheese, toasted walnuts and thin baguette slices slathered with a little good olive oil and toasted.
Muscato table grapes are sold at Gelson’s, Bristol Farms and often at Mother’s Markets.
Toast walnut halves or pieces on a rimmed baking sheet in a 350-degree oven until nicely browned, about 5 minutes. Turn on the oven light and keep an eye on them because they can go from nicely toasted to black in the wink of an eye. If you don’t like walnuts, substitute you favorite nut!
Just don’t forget the Muscatos.