Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Orange Pistachio Madeleines

I confess to having a bit of a thing for a certain Mr. Branson.

You see, I have recently discovered (and become smitten with addicted to) "Downton Abbey".  I know I'm a bit late to the party, but through the power of Netflix, Hulu and the PBS website I have managed to watch three seasons of the show practically without taking a breath.  I have always loved period dramas and especially early 20th century pieces when the women were required to wear the most fabulous hats.  I so wish I could have lived in a time when it was acceptable to wear hats on a daily basis (I'm a bit obsessed with the hats, I'm afraid) or when getting dressed for dinner was a decidedly formal affair.  So I suppose that I never really stood a chance at resisting this fabulous BBC export.
I also confess to having inadvertently absorbed a few of the old fashioned phrases into my own speech.  I pick up accents quickly, so watching the genteel lords and ladies for three solid days leaves me thinking and quite often speaking using their very formal vernacular.  My sons have started looking at me quizzically when I respond to their questions with answers like "I should think not!" or "That won't do at all!" (of course, spoken with a British accent in my own mind).  I think they believe I'm beginning to lose my mind.  But I don't mind their looks, I just love the way those phrases just roll off the tongue.  It's almost poetic.
I imagine these madeleines would be the sort of thing Mrs. Patmore would bake up for afternoon tea.  Lady Grantham and the other women of the family would sit and gossip while having their tea and snacking on a few sweet little cakes.  Divine.  At least, that's how I felt as I nibbled on my own madeleines while catching up on the latest happenings from Downton and sipping a cup of tea one quiet afternoon not too long ago.  Of course, these days madeleines are not reserved simply for lords and ladies, just ask my three year old son who gobbled up three or four of his own before rolling his eyes when I told him he'd had "quite enough of that, young man".

Orange Pistachio Madeleines
Makes 12 madeleines.  Adapted from this recipe of mine which was adapted from Martha Stewart.
For the printable recipe, click here.

These have become one of my favorite quick treats.  Making the batter is simpler and requires less equipment than mixing a cookie or cake batter, it only requires a quick pop in the fridge while the oven is heating up.  I thought I might regret buying a pan that I can only use for one thing, but I've since realized that it was a wise investment.

For the madeleines:
4 tbs butter, melted and cooled (plus more for brushing on the pan)
2 tbs honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange
1/4 cup very finely chopped unsalted pistachios (a mini chopper or food processor will do a great job)
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1/3 cup sugar

For the glaze:
1 tsp orange zest
1 tsp freshly squeezed orange juice
1/3 cup powdered sugar

In a small bowl, stir together the melted butter, honey, vanilla, and orange zest.  Set aside.

In a larger bowl, whisk together the flour,chopped nuts and baking powder.  Stir in the sugar and eggs.  Add the butter mixture and stir just to combine.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Much like popovers and crepes, the batter will bake better when chilled.

While the batter is chilling, preheat your oven to 425 degrees and prepare the madeleine pan by buttering the mold.

Spoon the batter into the molds so that each is about 3/4 filled.  Bake for 8 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned.  Be careful- the madeleines can go from just right to over-browned and dry very quickly.  Remove the pan from the oven and place on a baking rack to cool for a couple of minutes.  Once the madeleines are cool enough to handle, remove them from the pan and cool completely on the baking rack.

While the madeleines are cooling, make the glaze by whisking together the ingredients in a small bowl. If the glaze is too thick, add a few more drops of orange juice until it is smooth and has a slightly thin consistency.   Brush the glaze over the cooled madeleines and let set for about 10 minutes.

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