Catholic Recipe: Madeleines
"In culinary lore, Madeleines are always associated with Marcel Proust, whose autobiographical novel, Remembrance of Things Past, begins as his mother serves him tea and "those short, plump little cakes called petits Madeleines, which look as though they had been molded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim's shell." The narrator dips a corner of a little cake into the tea and then is overwhelmed by memories; he realizes that the Madeleines bore "in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast tructure of recollection." ...But Madeleines had existed long before Proust's boyhood. Numerous stories, none very convincing, attribute their invention to a host of different pastry cooks, each of whom supposedly named them for some particular young woman. Only three things are known for sure. One is that Madeleine is a French form of Magdalen (Mary Magdalen, a disciple of Jesus, is mentioned in all four gospels). Another is that Madeleines are always associated with the little French town of Commercy, whose bakers were said to have once, long ago, paid a "very large sum" for the recipe and sold the little cakes packed in oval boxes as a specialty in the area. Finally, it is alow known that nuns in eighteenth-century France frequently supported themselves and their schools by making and selling a particular sweet...Commercy once had a convent dedicated to St. Mary Magdelen, and the nuns, probably when all the convents and monastaries of France were abolished during the French Revolution, sold their recipe to the bakers for an amount that grew larger with each telling." Rare Bits: Unusual Origins of Popular Recipes, Patricia Bunning Stevens [Ohio University Press:Athens] 1998 (p. 178)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and lightly flour Madeleine pans. In top of a double boiler over hot water, beat eggs and sugar together to warm mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. Then set top of double boiler over cold water. Continue beating egg mixture for 5 more minutes, or until light and fluffy.
Remove bowl from water and gently fold in flour until just combined. Stir in butter and vanilla. Place one tablespoon of batter into each Madeleine tin. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden. Cool for one minute, then remove from pans carefully. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar just before serving.Recipe Source: Information from Various Websites