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This week's French Garden recipe

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People who know me would tell you that it's hard to tell which I like more: gardening or cooking. I'd say it depends on which I'm doing at the moment. Anyway, French cooking and French gardening go hand in hand. For me, cooking is an on-going adventure. Join me here on my culinary explorations, where I share with you both my old favorites as well as new inspirations. It's my fondest wish that these recipes serve as a springboard for your own new creations.


02/28/2012
Chestnut-hazelnut madeleines (Madeleines à la châtaigne et aux noisettes)

Ingredients:

Makes about 15 standard-sized madeleines.

3.5 oz. unsalted butter
3.5 oz. powdered sugar
1.5 oz. fresh (not stale) chestnut flour
3 oz. whole hazelnuts
good pinch of salt
3 egg whites
3 rounded T. chestnut honey
1 T. Frangelico or chestnut liqueur

chestnut hazelnut madeleines

You will need a nonstick madeleine mold for this recipe.


Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Place the hazelnuts in the oven and roast until faintly colored and very fragrant--about 15 minutes.  Rub them in a dish towel to remove as much of their skin as possible.  Grind finely in a food processor or nut grinder.  Put through a coarse sieve and measure out 2 ounces finely ground nuts.

Melt the butter over medium low heat until the foam starts to subside and the butter turns a warm golden brown.  Remove just before this point as it will continue to darken off the heat.

Sift together the chestnut flour, powdered sugar, salt, and ground hazelnuts, or simply whisk together vigorously until all lumps have disappeared.  Beat the eggwhites until foamy and stir them into the dry ingredients, combining thoroughly.  Mix in the honey and liqueur.  Add the melted butter by pouring it through a fine sieve.  Combine very thoroughly.  Cover and allow to rest in a cool place at least 1 hour.  (The batter made be prepared up to 24 hours in advance.*)

Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Generously butter your madeleine mold, even buttering a bit of the flat part around each receptacle in case they overflow a bit.  Fill the molds 2/3 full.  Bake for about 15 minutes or until they have puffed bellies, are golden brown and deep brown around the edges**.  Unmold carefully, using a table knife to loosen each cake and arrange them on a plate to cool.  Serve with tea, fruit compote, or ice cream--heaven whichever you choose.  These are a perfect ending for a dinner with Corsican flavors...

*The longer you let the madeleine batter sit (up to 24 hours), the better the madeleines' bellies will puff.

**Don't underbake!  The edges must be dark brown and crunchy to contrast with the mellow rest of the cake!

Note:  It's true, you do have to like the flavor of chestnut honey to like these little cakes.  But if you do, you're in for a special treat.  The dark nutty taste and slightly gritty toothsomeness of these madeleines is addictive!

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