I’m still prone to the occasional (and by occasional I mean roughly once a week) pathetic and helpless infatuation with some new pastry or confection. Until recently I’ve been crushing on the kouign-amann and the salt caramel coconut macarons at Honore Artisan Bakery in Seattle, but alas something shiny new and delicious caught my eye, and seduced my hopelessly fickle tastebuds.
This very unusual take on the madeleine combines quintessentially British flavors (sticky toffee, Earl Grey tea) with the delicate clamshell form of the French cakelet. I tried one recently at a tea party and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it ever since.
A very sensory treat – the soft, sweet, gently perfumed bite of the madeleine combined with the deeply satisfying crunch, yet only subtle sweetness of the sugar on the outside, all dipped in an oozy pot of warm, dark caramel sauce. Much more fun than dipping a plain one in tea, no matter what Monsieur Proust may have led you to believe.
I usually make a double or triple batch of the sauce. It keeps for several days in the fridge, and is perfect with some sliced seasonal pears or even some good old fashioned vanilla bean ice cream.
Sticky Toffee Earl Grey Madeleines with Caramel Dipping Sauce
Adapted from a Donna Hay madeleine recipe and my own sticky toffee pudding.
For the madeleines
5oz (150g) chopped dates
Pinch of kosher salt
8 fl oz (250ml) very hot water
1 Earl Grey tea bag
1 tsp baking soda
2 oz (60g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 oz (60g) light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
5oz (150g) flour (1 ¼ cups)
1 tsp baking powder
Turbinado or demerara sugar for sanding (do not substitute with regular brown sugar – the texture is very important here).
A good ¼ stick of butter and ¼ cup of flour for prepping the pan.
12 large cup or 24 petite cup madeleine pan, preferably NOT non-stick.
For the sauce
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 cup packed dark brown or muscovado sugar
Seeds of 1 vanilla pod or 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream + more to taste
Pinch of kosher salt (more to taste, if you like your caramel salty!)
Preheat the oven to 375F, ensuring you have a rack in the center.
Prepare a madeleine pan by smearing each mold generously with butter, then flouring thoroughly. This step is important to prevent sticking.
In a small mixing bowl, pour the hot water over the dates, salt and tea bag. Stir in the baking soda, being careful not to agitate the tea bag too much. After 4 minutes, remove the tea bag and discard.
In a medium mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the date mixture and mix well.
Sieve the flour and baking powder together, then fold it all into the main batter in one go, using light strokes. You don’t want to overmix at this stage or you will end up with a dense, tough end product.
Let the batter rest at room temperature for about 5 minutes, then carefully spoon the batter into the prepared madeleine pan, filling each cup about 2/3 full. The mixture will be fairly liquid, but do not spread the mixture out or overfill the cups, as you want them to puff up nicely in the middle!
Bake the madeleines for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Sprinkle liberally with turbinado or demarara sugar while they are still steamy and in the pan. After a couple of minutes, remove each madeleine from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool, sprinkling the other side with more turbinado or demerara sugar.
To make the sauce, combine all ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Over a medium heat, stir until sugar is entirely dissolved, then boil gently for 5 minutes or until sauce has thickened and darkened slightly. Stir occasionally and watch carefully to ensure the sauce doesn’t burn.
Serve the madeleines with warm dipping sauce on the side in sake cups, or small ramekins, and try not to eat them all at once :)
Makes a little over 12 large or 24 petite madeleines!