Rosewater Orange Madeline Cookies

A perfect treat for tea or afternoon snacks, the Madeline is the quintessential American idea of a French café cookie, though they originated in Commercy and Liverdun in the Lorraine region of France. Marcel Proust famously adored the petite cakes, and is widely credited for bringing them to the mainstream. There are no similar examples, of which I am aware, of any author’s intrinsic connection to any baked good.

The debate over how a proper Madeline ought to taste, and the texture of a traditional, Proustian cookie is heated, fueled by his description of the cookie as dry and crumbly. Some argue that eaten on their own, a ‘real’ Madeline should taste dry and almost dusty – the act of dipping in tea yields sumptuous results for these purists. Most recipes include a higher ration of butter, eggs and sugar than would be expected in a dry, powdery cookie, and the common process of combining these ingredients encourages the development of gluten which further prohibits a delicate, dry crumb.

Reading into this debate disappointed me: my Classic Madeline Cookies do not exemplify the traditional standard that Proust allegedly enjoyed. My displeasure was short-lived, however, since I enjoy my own Madelines very much, and have never had a single complaint against them. Really, how often does anyone find fault with home-made cookies born from a quality recipe, regardless of its authenticity?

In the spirit of enjoying baked goods despite their historical accuracy, I adapted my recipe to yield a different flavor combination. Aiming to elevate the simple elegance of the lemony original, I combined three aromatic flavors: orange, rosewater and almond.

These cookies come from a slightly thinner batter than their predecessors, but their flavor is far more developed and nuanced. With the almond lurking subtly in the background, the first bite flows from buttery to floral to orange. The romantic pairing of these flavors makes these a perfect, simple cookie to make for special occasions.

As with the Classic Madeline Cookies, start by beating together the sugar, eggs, salt and flavorings. Add the flour and mix to combine before adding the butter. Spoon the batter into the Madeline tins and bake at 375° for ten minutes or until the cookies are slightly browned around the edges and puffy in the middle. They could not be any easier.

I use a hand-held mixer, but a whisk works just as well to combine the ingredients. With either method, try to blend the ingredients as efficient as possible to avoid overworking the dough – mix just until thoroughly combined at each step to produce the most tender cookies.

Rosewater Orange Madeline Cookies

Based on the recipe for my Classic Madeline Cookies, adapted in turn from Bon Appetit Magazine, I changed the flavorings of these French favorites to produce a buttery cookie, soft and chewy with a crisp outside, but scented with orange zest, almond extract and rosewater. The romantic pairing of these flavorings yields a delicate cookies with layers of aromatic flavor.

2 large eggs

2/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon rosewater

½ teaspoon almond extract

Zest from one medium orange

A pinch of salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

10 tablespoons butter, melted

  • Preheat the oven to 375° and liberally butter the shell-shaped indentations in a large Madeline pan.
  • Beat the eggs along with the sugar, rosewater, almond extract, orange zest and salt. Stir in the flour just until the dough is well-combined.
  • Gradually blend in the melted butter until smooth.
  • Spoon one tablespoon of batter into each indentation and bake for 10 minutes or until the Madelines are puffed and golden around the edges. Cool them in the pan for five minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

Yields about two dozen cookies

30. March 2012 by Matt Jackson
Categories: Cookies, Shaped Cookies | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 comment

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  1. Pingback: Classic Madeline Cookies | The JB Kitchen

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