This Recipe is lightly adapted from “Desserts Trop Bons” Marabout book.
In his timeless novel Le Père Goriot, Honoré de Balzac wrote “Paris is an ocean, no one can touch its bottom.” This can’t be more true! During several years spent in Paris, I was eager to explore the various cultural faces hidden behind the stereotypes of the City of Light.
On foot and en bus, I toured the city’s residential districts and digged in some of its remote immigrant enclaves, seldom discovered by tourists. My fortuitous journey unlocked before my eyes the vibrant soul of a unique ethnic fabric that never ceased to amaze me.
When I think of Paris now, my brain summons an amalgam of colorful images, evocative flavors, and playful aromas. I pine for the fragrance of lemon grass escaping the copious simmering pho pots in Paris’ 13th district (Chinatown). I recall the bucolic spectacle of Haitian street vendors lining the sidewalks of the Barbes neighborhood in the 18th district and selling everything from creole fritters beignets to wigs. I fondly picture the crowds of north Africans blithely sipping their mint tea and savoring their spice-spiked tageen at the Mosquée de Paris in Paris’ 5th district. I can’t help but rave about my Sunday treat at the Jewish quarter Le Marais, where crunchy hot falafel are served in pillowy, freshly-baked pita sandwiches, smothered under a mound of tangy pickles, garlicky marinated eggplants and enrobed in pungent tahini sauce!
Inevitably, this ethnic melange altered the way I perceive French cuisine. It inspired me to reinvent French classic recipes in a more inclusive fashion, one that does justice to its variegated glory. This recipe is an example.
Madeleine by definition are traditional, buttery, individual French cakes baked in shell-shaped molds and served with tea. My recipe of Dates Madeleine is adapted from a French recipe of steamed date pudding that I found years ago in Marabout French dessert book. I used the same ingredients, yet jazzed them up with a mix of North African sweet spices. Instead of steaming the pudding molds in Bain Marie (water bath), I bake the batter in Madeleine molds. It yields to a slightly crunchy exterior and moist interior. The salted caramel sauce complements the barley sweetened Madeleine and gives it a modern edge.
Dates Madeleine are becoming my go-to sweet recipe for casual brunches, elegant tea parties, fun potlucks and even kids lunch boxes. It is a quick one-bowl recipe that is easy to make. It does brings a fresh breath of French air to my table.
Dates Madeline Recipe
Makes 12 Madeleines
For Madeline batter:
125 g pitted chopped dates
150 ml water
125 g butter, cubed, at room temperature
125 g sugar powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ginger powder
175 g self-rising flour
For salted caramel sauce:
300 ml whipping cream
125 g brown sugar
50 g unsalted butter
1 tsp kosher salt
- Prepare the dates. Add the water to the chopped dates in a small saucepan on low heat. Let it simmer until dates are tender and then puree the water-dates mixture in the food processor.
- Make the caramel sauce. Add half of the whipping cream to the sugar and butter in a medium saucepan on low-medium heat. Stir continuously until sugar is dissolved and butter is completely incorporated. Let it simmer for 5 minute. Add the rest of the cream and turn off the heat.
- Mix well the sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, spices using a spatula until all ingredients are fully incorporated and the batter becomes smooth, creamy, and pale. Mix in the dates’ puree.
- Scoop the batter into the non stick Madeleine molds using an ice cream scooper or two small spoons.
- Bake in a preheated 160° oven for 15 to 20 min or until the Madeleine are golden and a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Unmold the Madeleine onto a metal rack and let them cool completely. Drizzle the caramel sauce on top or serve it on the side.
- Don’t overbeat the Madeleine batter to avoid a crumbly texture.