The recipe for this week was supposed to be the perfect madeleine, but here’s the thing: Hungry Sofia uses Julia Child’s recipe for les madeleines de Commercy. They are perfection (as if I doubted Julia Child). Why double-up when she’s already done all the work?
Like Proust’s enchanting The Cookie illustrates, madeleines have a power to recall “things past.” Their particular flavor clears out the other thoughts clogging your mind & leave you with comforting, simple nostalgia. The unique shape, a pearl resting on a clam, seems to envelope all the moments of past madeleines.
In France, many of our staples are lacking in the baking aisle, making it an adventure to find their equivalents or–more excitingly–venture into recipes that require what the French consider staples. One of the main items on that list, as ubiquitous an image as a bottle of vanilla, is the cobalt bottle of fleur d’oranger, orange blossom water or extract*. The fragrance is almost overpowering, a veritable perfume, but this is the secret of true madeleine flavor.
I recommend, when you make your madeleines, omitting vanilla & lemon, replacing lemon with the zest of a large, fragrant orange.
Much like Proust, I’ve gone far too long on a subject that was not my true intention. We’re going to a wedding this weekend. A friend has volunteered to take over much of our life–bunnysitting & CSA-gathering. I asked what dessert she would like as payment, & she asked that it have fruit in it. I wanted to create a true American-style cookie that has the elegant flavors, without being overdone or pretentious, that I find in madeleines.
Berries are bursting into season here, & when I saw tiny black raspberry at the grocery I knew I needed them. Feeling inspired, I grabbed some slivered almonds & creamed honey. (I was excited to find this site that explains creamed honey. Fascinating stuff. Check it out.)
I decided to use the Sunday tea-time flavors in the classic oatmeal cookie. The mix of sugars made a dough so creamy I wasn’t sure I’d have any left to bake. (Jenn, if you’re reading this, I promise I didn’t double-dip into your cookie batter!) Here they are, almond-raspberry oatmeal cookies.
- 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) of room-temperature butter (I used Earth Balance)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup cream honey (or regular honey)
- 1/4 cup vanilla sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup flour
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup slivered almonds (or whole almonds, chopped)
- 1 cup black raspberries
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Wash your berries well. Those guys get hit hard with pesticides, if you’re not buying organic!Prepare cookie sheets. Oatmeal cookies don’t usually stick to my cookie sheet, so I didn’t use parchment. Use your judgment. (That stuff’s expensive, so I use it as sparingly as possible.)
- Beat butter until creamy (30 seconds). Add sugars & honey. Beat until well incorporated & creamy (a minute).
- Add soda, powder & salt. Beat until incorporated (a minute). Scrape sides occasionally, to keep it all mixed in.
- Add the flour & mix well, scraping sides & bottom to ensure that it’s all incorporated.
- Add almonds & oats. Stir with large spoon or spatula until it’s really well mixed around–you don’t want any plain cookies!
- When it’s mostly mixed, add in the berries. Stir until evenly distributed. Try to be gentle, but don’t worry about mashing them up. It adds nice color, juice & flavor.
- Plop onto your cookie sheet in rounded tablespoons. Leave a good amount of space between cookies, because they like to spread.
- Bake seven minutes, but check vigilantly! They should be golden at the edges & look almost not done in the middle. Remove them from the tray immediately. The residual heat in the cookie will help it finish setting all the way, but I let mine go a minute too long & burnt the lil’ guys. (More for me!)
- Allow to cool completely, & eat loads of them before anyone asks you to share! Store the rest in an airtight container, then offer them to people saying you only made a small batch.