Confession time! A few years ago I worked at Williams Sonoma as a culinary instructor. This meant I would teach classes, and sometimes cook things for demonstration to serve guests as they shopped around the store. The day I remember most vividly was the day after Chuck Williams passed away. Yes, the founding father of the WS enterprise passed away at the age of 100 and I just happen to work at one of his stores when this happened. The charm of it all was that to honor his passing, the manager asked me to bake madeleines which were Mr. Williams’ favorite baked good. Well, these also happen to be one of my favorite baked goods, so I was thrilled to be assigned this task.
I had actually never baked madeleines before but Williams Sonoma has numerous recipes for the little cakes on their website. It only made sense that I would choose Chuck Williams’ Favorite Madeleine Recipe, so I printed it off and began baking away. The recipe was so simple, I couldn’t really believe these special treats aren’t being baked on a weekly basis in homes all across America! Really, the only trick is the scalloped or fluted shell-shaped pan required to get the signature look, and while that may be a road-block, the recipe itself was a synch.
While working there, I took full advantage of my employee discount and bought myself two madeleine pans so recently I decided to play around with a Valentine’s version by adding beet puree to turn them a beautiful red hue. It took a few tries to get the right color without compromising the texture of the cake itself, but I think I nailed it! Just check out the color of the batter. I mean, gorgeous, right?!?
One of the most fun parts about working at Williams Sonoma is having access to all the ingredients and tools they sell in the store, so cake flour and orange-water were no issue for me at that time. However, I don’t keep either of these on hand in my home pantry. So, for this version, I started with the Classic Lemon Madeleines Recipe; also on their website. One thing I learned while working there is they have good, reliable recipes! In this particular case, I left out the lemon because I didn’t want anything covering up the flavor of the beet. To be honest, the beet flavor isn’t all that strong, but it’s really the color that captures my heart anyway! <3
In the spirit of Valentine’s day, a sweet sprinkle of powdered sugar seemed like the perfect finishing touch! These little cakes look beautiful and are addictively delicious. Package them up to take to work and share with your colleagues, or pass some around to your neighbors. They are a delightful way to share some love this Valentine’s Day!
With a Valentine’s Day twist, this recipe has been adapted from the Williams Sonoma Classic Lemon Madeleine Recipe.
- Prep Time: 10 Minutes
- Cook Time: 12 Minutes
- Total Time: 22 minutes
- Yield: 12
- Category: Dessert
- Cuisine: French
- 3 tablespoons blended beet (buy 2 small beets, about 2 ounces each)
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons softened butter for brushing pan
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted (plus more for dusting the pan)
- Confectioners’ sugar for dusting (optional)
Option to do ahead: Make the beet puree. Here’s how:
- Peel two small beets and roughly chop. Should yield about 2/3 cup. Place in a Vitamix container, or in a blender. Add 1/2 cup of water. Turn motor on low and slowly increase speed until beets begin to pulverize. If necessary, stop and scrape down the sides so large chunks aren’t sticking to the container. Blend again until mixture is fairly smooth. This will yield more than you need for the recipe, but all the more incentive to make a double batch of madeleines!
Now, to make the madeleines:
- Start by preheating the oven to 375 degrees.
- Place 4 tablespoons of butter in a microwave-safe dish and heat on high in short 20-second increments until melted. Allow to cool slightly.
- In the bowl of an upright mixer, measure the eggs, sugar and salt. Turn on to medium-high speed, and beat vigorously until mixture is light, fluffy and very pale yellow in color, about 3-5 minutes.
- While the eggs whip, use a pastry brush or paper towel to heavily coat each of the 12 molds in a madeleine pan with softened butter (not the melted butter). Be sure to butter every ridge. Sprinkle the molds with flour, then tilt the pan from side to side, shaking flour into each little nook and cranny. Flip the pan upside down over the sink to shake out any excess flour.
- With mixer on low speed, add vanilla and almond extracts and 3 tablespoons of beet juice/puree.
- Turn off the mixer. Stir the mixture with a spatula to ensure the beet juice isn’t settling on the bottom. Sift 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of flour directly over the egg mixture, then beat on low speed just until incorporated.
- Use a rubber spatula to gently fold in 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. Fill the molds pretty fully as the batter doesn’t expand much during baking. Bake the madeleines until the tops spring back when lightly touched, 8 to 12 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven. Set a bakers rack over the top, then flip the rack and the pan together to invert. Rap the back of the pan to release all the little cakes. Allow the madeleines to cool on the rack until no longer warm to the touch, then sprinkle with a dusting of powdered sugar, if desired.