Monday, March 01, 2010

Recipe: Chestnut Honey Madeleines

Delicious Chestnut Honey Madeleines....
Oh, if only it were so easy to get this result, but then they wouldn't taste so sweet!

It all started when Dad dropped off a care package including asparagus, chard and a cut out newspaper clipping, last week. The newspaper clipping was from the NY Times, February 1999, over 10 years old!
The article was about a new bakery in Brooklyn called Sweet Melissa Patisserie. The owner and chef created a favorite recipe for madeleines that uses a very special and rare chestnut honey and hazelnut flour. Fast forward to 2010 - chestnut flour is still rare!
The article didn't give a recipe, but I was dying to try it! The article stated that unlike traditional madeleines, "not all madeleines need to be subtle, spongy and slightly dry begging for a cup of steaming tea".

So, I searched for a recipe online. To my surprise and delight, I found out the Sweet Melissa has written a cookbook and she included her recipe for chestnut honey madeleines! Jackpot!
Well, not exactly "jackpot"... the recipe called for chestnut honey imported from Italy and hazelnut flour.
So, I went on a quest to find these ingredients. It took me 2 states and all morning, but I found them!
This chestnut honey is imported from Italy. Unlike infused honey (honey where a spice or fragrance is soaked in the honey) true chestnut honey is not made from chestnuts. In fact, chestnut honey is made by bees that pollinate the chestnut trees in various regions in Italy. Then, they go to their hives and carry on the chestnut blossom pollen. This flavors the honey. In fact, it REALLY flavors the honey. I found this jar of honey at the Hanover COOP and it cost me $12 for the jar of 14 oz. I expected it to be sweet and luscious. In fact it is bitter! Other suggested uses for it are drizzled on cheese and crusty bread.
The second ingredient is less rare, but still hard to find. Hazelnut flour. Now, it can be made by grinding hazelnuts, but it can be tricky to do. If you grind them too much, they turn to paste. If they heat up while you are grinding them, they turn to paste. I was relieved to find this 8 oz bag of hazelnut flour at King Arthur Flour in Norwich, VT for $7.95.
I headed home with my purchases, thrilled to start baking.

Here are the ingredients:
1/2 cup hazelnut flour
1 2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup + 1 T all purpose flour
13 T unsalted butter
6 egg whites
1 T chestnut honey - (other honey can be substituted)

Additional butter for greasing the madeleine molds.

Immediately melt the butter and let the solids brown slightly. Immediately remove from heat and remove from pan to let it cool, somewhat, still liquid. The recipe calls for straining it. I did, but the mesh strainer didn't catch anything. (Maybe, I was supposed to strain it through cheesecloth?)
Whisk the powdered sugar, hazelnut flour and flour until combined.

Whip the egg whites until foamy - not stiff.
Combine the flour mixture with the eggs. Drizzle in the melted butter and honey. Mix well.

The batter is NOT a cookie dough, it is more of a cake batter. Chill in fridge.
Grease the madeleine molds with additional butter. (I melted additional butter and painted it into the mold.) The recipe calls for greasing and flouring the molds. I just greased the silicon molds, I didn't add flour. If I used metal molds, I would definitely grease & flour them.
Spoon the batter into the pans about 7/8 full. The madeleines puff a bit, that is why I leave room.
Bake at 375 for 15 minutes for large madeleines, 10 minutes for tiny madeleines.
Remove from oven. Let cool in pan for 1 minute.
Flip over pan and if you are lucky, some will pop out. If they do not pop out, use a toothpick to pry them up.
Here are the cooked madeleines. Even though I used a silicon mold, they still became a little golden, which I prefer.
Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar.
Here is the little "to go" box I packed for Dad. After all, he inspired me to try these!

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