There’s nothing traditional about putting either chocolate or orange into madeleines and it’s probably even more of a curved ball to sneak in both. But I had oranges (a bit of an orange mountain if the truth be known) and chocolate chips (no surprise there) and I wanted to make something quick and pretty for an ‘after-school-before-swim-gala’ snack for four giggling swimmer girls to snack on en route to the inter-school competition. Because we all know that swim galas are as much about the snacks as they are about the swimming – especially when you’re eight, nearly nine years old.
And when the swim gala means that you get to leave school early (even if it’s only 20 minutes early) well then, life is good. And if there’s a bit of a snack to enjoy in the car while you’re giggling with your fellow swimmers – then life is even better.
And what a lot of chatter and giggling there was too. It went something like this –
- A discussion around whose Mum has the oldest car. I always win that one.
- A chat about a girl who had been told off by the teacher that morning – then morphing into a debate about who was the naughtiest boy in the school. Turns out that the naughtiest boy in the school is guilty of talking loudly and chatting while the teacher is speaking. Heavy stuff.
- And then an exploration of who has the best sleepwalking story. Gotta say that Hella will always win that one … taking a shower in her sleep and not even waking up. Try to top that one if you can.
- Obviously there was a bit on hairstyles – this is 4 girls after all.
- And then a deep and searching question – would you rather receive 100 dirhams (about £20) each day for the rest of your life or 1 million dirhams in one go? There was a bit of pondering before the answer …“1 million dirhams seems like TOO much money, so I’ll go for 100 dirhams a day”. Who says Dubai children are not grounded?!
- …. followed by a vile and disgusting burp coming from my darling daughter (a side effect of older brothers I fear) which, of course, caused much hilarity.
- And finally a debate about which teacher they hoped to get next year.
In summary, it’s a whole different world from driving a bunch of boys around. Apart from the burping.
So back to the Chocolate Orange Madeleines … Traditionally, madeleines are lemony, but I do find that lemon as a flavour is a bit iffy with children (well my children anyway) – hence the orange and definitely the chocolate.
So what is great about these little beauties?
- They are easy to make. To be honest, when I researched making madeleines, a few sources described them as being ‘tricky’ and ‘not for the novice’. Gotta say, I don’t agree. Maybe the technique that I’m using is unconventional, but it’s straight forward and it works for me.
- Madeleines are seriously pretty – especially with a sprinkling of sugar (they transport me to a Parisian pavement café). They’re great for little fingers and ideal for when the vicar comes to tea – or anyone else come to think of it. Oh and great for pre-swim gala snacks of course.
- I think as a bonus they also make you look terribly accomplished. It’s that fancy scallop shape. I’m sure of it.
- No need for paper cases (a.k.a less used wrappers to get rid of). Of course, a madeleine tray is needed. Mine is of the silicon variety, which equates to no cakes getting annoyingly stuck. With the inny-outy shape and all those grooves, I don’t think I’d consider anything else.
- They taste super gorgeous. Madeleines are not a light and airy cake – traditionally they don’t contain any raising agent apart from the air that you beat into them – but when I asked Hella to describe the texture of them, she pondered for a while and then settled on, “Yummy”. Can’t say fairer than that.
- They are at their best when they are straight out of the oven and ideally should be enjoyed the same day. I’m not sure you’ll have the problem of having too many hanging around, but if you do, they go down a storm the following day dipped in a hot coffee.
- The flavour is there for you to play with. Lemon is traditional. Orange is lovely. Adding chocolate chips works well. Be creative.
- And of course, if your name is Madeleine, or if Madeleine is your middle name (like Hella) they are EVEN more special.
So the girls had giggled, they had chatted, they had snacked – all that was left was the swimming. And did they swim? They only swam their team to victory. That kind of tremendous result deserves celebratory ice lollies all round. Life really is good.
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup caster sugar
- 1 cup plain flour (plus about a tablespoon extra to prepare the tin if yours is a metal one)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- the grated rind of 1 orange
- 150g (5oz) unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon orange juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup dark chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons caster sugar
- Whisk the eggs and sugar together until they are very light and fluffy - I used an electric hand mixer here. Now beat in the flour, salt and the orange rind.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan. Now watch what happens here .... As it is melting, you will get a foam developing on the surface of the melted butter. This will then subside and you will get a very fluffy layer of foam developing. Underneath this the liquid will start to turn brown. This is what you want and you are looking for a nice toasty brown colour (you will need to move the foam to one side to see the colour changing). Don't let it burn OR bubble over here - if in doubt, less brown is better than more.
- Now take the butter off the heat. Put a tablespoon of the melted butter in a dish (to butter the moulds) and pour the rest into a bowl. Chill the melted butter in the fridge until it is cool.
- Now prepare your trays. If your trays are silicon, it's enough just to brush them with some of the reserved melted butter. If they are metal, add your extra tablespoon of flour to the melted butter and brush this mixture onto the madeleine trays to prevent them from sticking.
- Preheat the oven to 190ºC, 375ºF (gas mark 5).
- When the butter is cool (stick your finger in it to be sure), add it to your mixture along with the orange juice, vanilla and the chocolate chips. Mix everything well and then let the mixture rest and thicken a bit while the oven is heating up.
- When the oven has reached temperature, add a tablespoon of the mixture into each scallop of the madeleine tin and bake for 13-15 minutes or until they are springy to the touch and golden brown around the edges.
- Remove the madeleines from the oven and tip them onto a plate, with their fluted side facing upwards. While they are still hot, sprinkle with the extra 2 tablespoons caster sugar to give a delicious sugary coating.