Madeleine: the famous cake-cookie.

As a wrap up to our French Week, I decided to end on a sweet note.  They also served to break in my most recent splurge, since these little guys require their own molded baking pan (thanks to Ace Hardware for a 20 percent off sale).  The light, tender, and slightly sweet goodness that this cookie embodies serves as a perfect compliment to sherbet, afternoon tea, or even your morning coffee.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

2 eggs
1⁄3 cup granulated sugar
1⁄4 tsp. salt
1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract
1⁄4 tsp. almond extract
1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
4 Tbs. (1⁄2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
and cooled
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting (optional)

Preheat an oven to 375°F. Using a pastry brush, heavily brush softened butter over each of the 12 molds in a madeleine pan, carefully buttering every ridge. Dust the molds with flour, tilting the pan to coat the surfaces evenly. Turn the pan upside down and tap it gently to dislodge the excess flour.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, granulated sugar and salt. Using a wire whisk or a handheld mixer on medium-high speed, beat vigorously until pale, thick and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts. Sprinkle the sifted flour over the egg mixture and stir or beat on low speed to incorporate.

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the lemon zest and half of the melted butter just until blended. Fold in the remaining melted butter.

Divide the batter among the prepared molds, using a heaping tablespoon of batter for each mold. Bake the madeleines until the tops spring back when lightly touched, 8 to 12 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and invert it over a wire rack, then rap it on the rack to release the madeleines. If any should stick, use your fingers to loosen the edges, being careful not to touch the hot pan, and invert and rap again.

Let the Madeleine cool on the rack for 10 minutes. Using a fine-mesh sieve, dust the tops with confectioners sugar and serve. Makes 12.

*(Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Foods of the World Series, Paris, by Marlena Spieler (Oxmoor House, 2004)).
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