Tuesday, October 6, 2009

7th grade chef

I encourage my students to learn to cook.  We do not teach home economics at my school and I firmly believe that everyone, boys and girls alike, should learn his or her way around the kitchen.  My own two boys, however, are not the least bit interested... They tell me they are eaters, not cookers (just like their dad!).  Maybe someday.
The deal I have with my students is that they can make something for their classmates or for their families.  Something French.  Parental help is fine, but they must be involved in the process as much as possible.  I give them extra credit points for their efforts.  They bring me the recipe and briefly explain the process to their classmates.  And if we are lucky, we get to sample the finished product.  Let's face it.  Savoring a madeleine au chocolat makes French class a bit more interesting, n'est-ce pas?
Just as looking at Paris Breakfasts posts once in a while sweetens up a lesson plan. Carol, the PB blogger and artiste extraordinaire, is in Paris at this very moment... snapping up photos of macarons and hopefully taking in the magnificent view of Paris from the top of La Tour Eiffel at dusk as I suggested!  It is her 120th birthday -- not Carol's,  the Eiffel Tower's!
A madeleine is a small cake baked in a special  pan that gives it a shell-like shape.  Its flavor is similar to that of pound cake, but lighter.   Marcel Proust in À la recherche du temps perdu (Remembrance of Things Past) wrote this about madeleines--
"She sent out for one of those short, plump little cakes called petites madeleines, which look as though they had been molded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim's shell.  And soon, mechanically, weary after a dull day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake.  No sooner had the warm liquid, and the crumbs with it, touched my palate than a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place... at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory..."
So, here is the recipe.  Make them and who knows?  Maybe someone will give you extra credit of some sort...  or the day's problems will wash away as you nibble on one of these delicious cakes- ces gâteaux délcieux.

Chocolate Madeleines

(yield 36 madeleines)

3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa
Pinch of salt
4 large eggs
1 c. vanilla sugar
12 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Butter for buttering the madeleine tins

1.  Sift together the flour, cocoa and salt.
2.  Place the eggs and the sugar in a large bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk until thick and lemon colored.  Fold in the flour, then melted butter.
3.  Butter the madeleine pans, then spoon in the batter, filling each one about 3/4 full.  Refrigerate the filled madeleine pans and the remaining batter for one hour.
4.  Heat the oven to 425 F.
5.  Bake the madeleines just until they are firm and puffed, about 7 minutes.  Turn them immediately from the molds; wipe out the molds, let cool and continue baking the madeleines until all of the batter is used.  The madeleines are best when eaten slightly cooled or at room temperature the same day they are made.

Bon appétit, mes élèves!  Merci, Alexandre!

recipe from http://www.epicurious.com
Marcel Proust translation by C.K. Scott-Moncrieff found at:

1 comment:

Lisa@Pickles and Cheese said...

I still have a gift certificate to Williams Sonoma that my daughter gave me for X-mas last year. Hmmm, I might have to go and pick me up that Madelaine pan I have had my eye on!