With every day and every week that passes, I get more eager. I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas to come, counting down the days until school lets out and then counting again until Christmas Eve. “Just a few more, a few more, any minute now!” Only this year, even though ‘tis the season, I’m not waiting for Christmas. I’m waiting for something else.
To be completely honest, we didn’t expect it to take this long. By now we thought we’d be well on our way to crystal clear Bahamian waters, if not already swimming in them. But then again, we didn’t expect Barrett’s father to die. And we didn’t expect to get in a car accident. We didn’t expect that, on top of all that, Boat would need her own physical tune-ups at the boat yard, with half a dozen people working on her. The anchor windlass, the radar dome, the new lines that have to be installed by climbing all the way up the 60-foot mast and, hmmm, yeah, I’ll pass on that particular job. 😉
But here we are. And I’m eager for something, anything, to shift and for this journey we’ve waited so long for to finally begin.
Originally, I’d slated today’s baking project to take place in our Boat. I wasn’t sure exactly where we’d be but I knew that this was going to be our first Christmas on Boat and thus the first time I’d bake holiday cookies on Boat and I had big plans for it. I imagined sticking the Madeleine tray in the drop down refrigerator to get the molds icy cold, a trick that some say makes their bumps more pronounced. Pouring nutty browned butter into a bowl of light-as-air, spiced-with-everything-wintery Bob’s Red Mill super-fine cake flour. Spooning a single heaping spoonful of the thick batter into the pre-chilled molds and then watching the light, fluffy, but crackly-on-the-edges Madeleines come to life in our CNG-heated oven. I envisioned a small Christmas tree sitting on our salon table, lit with twinkling lights, and our three empty stockings hanging somewhere from the life lines while carols streamed through the speakers of the right side of our salon. (Don’t ask about the left side speakers—just know they’re on the ever-growing list of repairs.)
But like all of the other setbacks and changes, this project needed it’s own adaptations – not to the recipe, that part was nailed, but to the setting. You can’t style and bake and photograph in a Boat that currently resides in a boat yard, at least I don’t think our friends down at the boatyard, Rob and Charles, would appreciate it if I did. So you won’t see the mini swivel stove or the beige corian countertops in these photos, much to my dismay. Instead, you’ll see my mother’s bayou-front house, where Boat is usually docked.
And in the making of them – twice on her sparkly marble-topped counters and in her double-sided stainless steel oven, once served fresh-from-the-oven alongside several glasses of frothy and very-boozy eggnog while sitting around her floor-to-ceiling fireplace – they became something else. Was I bummed, sad even, at the delays and the causes for those delays? That this project, like our lives lately, was forced to alter course, to adapt to what is? Of course, I’m only human, and a slightly Type-A one at that. But if the holidays are about sharing, about appreciating what is, about finding moments of joy even through sadness and imperfection, then maybe this particular project – these gingery, spiced madeleines – happened just as they should have.
This post is part of my dear friends’ Holly and Natalie of The Modern Proper’s #calmandbrightcookienight! Check out their post here for all kinds of holiday cookie inspiration from some of my favorite bloggers. (And also, feel free to debate about whether the madeleine is a cookie or a cake. I say cookie, all the way.)
This post was sponsored by the good folks at Bob’s Red Mill, whose super-fine cake flour made these cookies the perfect texture, with a soft, tight crumb. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own but these cookies are just for you.
About the recipe
This recipe can easily be doubled. If you end up doubling, simply place the shell tray back in the freezer for about 15 minutes before baking the next batch. While madeleines are best eaten fresh from the oven, they can also be stored in an airtight container for 2 days. I recommend re-heating them in a microwave for 10-15 seconds before serving.
Brown Butter Gingerbread MadeleinesPrint Recipe
- 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened, for greasing the pans
- 2 tablespoons of Bob’s Red Mill Ultra-Fine Cake Flour, for preparing the pans
- 1 stick of unsalted butter, melted and browned just until toasty
- ⅔ cup of dark brown sugar
- ⅔ cup of Bob's Red Mil Super Fine Cake Flour
- ⅓ cup of all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon of ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon of ground nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons of ground ginger
- 2 large eggs
- 1-1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
Prepare pans w/ butter and flour by using your fingertips to rub flour into each and every crevice of the shell. This part is important for making cookies with the deep scalloped edges that madeleines are known for. Sprinkle cake flour in each shell and then, over a sink, gently rotate the pan and pat it on its edges so that the flour dusts each mold evenly. Place Madeleine tray in the freezer for at least 30 minutes while you prepare the batter.
Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until it just begins to turn a golden color and becomes fragrant and toasted. Be careful not to let the butter burn--it’s better to under brown than over brown.
Mix together the dark brown sugar, cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger in a medium size bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs by hand for 4-5 minutes until eggs are frothed. (You can also whisk the eggs in a stand mixer at medium-low speed for 3-4 minutes if you prefer.)
Combine the flour mixture with the egg mixture. Add vanilla extract and melted brown butter, stirring gently until just combined. Do not overmix. Cover mixture with plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Remove madeleine tray from the freezer and drop 1 tablespoon of refrigerated batter into each mold. Use the tip of your index finger to smooth the batter into the mold, making sure it reaches the edges. For the “prettiest” madeleines, don’t let batter overflow outside of the shell’s border. With that said, if you do, don’t worry. I’ve made that mistake before and it turned out not to be a mistake at all – sure, they didn’t look as picture perfect, but it also created a crispy extra bit that I liken to crème brulee topping, that was much loved. (And if I were making them only for myself and for Barrett, I’d make them like that!)
Bake for 12-14 minutes, remove from oven and gently bang bottom of pan on the countertop to loosen the madeleines from their molds. Invert pan onto dish towel and eat warm.
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