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Quakes and Cookies

It took a moment to realize that it wasn’t sleep-deprivation. The room was actually moving. My first thought was that the neighbors were digging something up. But the whole hundred year Victorian was moving. The house that I thought was indestructible was trembling. Oh no.

At the time of the shaking, I was trying to coax my toddler into a nap, while changing my infant’s dirty diaper. This was no small feat. Now, add an earthquake to that and you’ve got next to impossible.

So imagine me in my spit-up and poo-laden Mom-garb, running down the stairs with a baby in my arms, a phone in my hand, and a toddler in tow, the whole time looking about frantically waiting for a wall to cave in.

We reach the first floor and Sophie goes for her Snow White high-heeled slippers (why, Disney?! why?!) and Asher takes the first small object he sees.

I’m trying to get through to Josh’s cell phone and the college where he works while Sophie’s clomping around and Asher’s whimpering. I see, from the window, that the neighbors are fine and going about their daily business as if nothing happened. The chandelier in our dining room is still swaying.

Josh gets a hold of me and explains the situation and tells me that they aren’t expecting anything more, to which I reply, “Good. That was plenty for me.”

God was gracious and the kids ended up in their beds and actually slept.

There was an earthquake and what did I do? You’d think I would hug my children, write my will, burn my journals, or sign up to give blood, but instead I tied on my apron and hit the kitchen. And it wasn’t to make up that emergency box of non-perishables. I was going to make madeleines.

A madeleine is a classic French tea cookie that’s more like a dainty cake than a Chips Ahoy.

I felt that a French cookie would be appropriate on such a day. Paris is one of my favorite cities and I’ve become interested in its baked goods.

A crispy baguette, a clump of old cheese, and a bottle of table red and you have a lovely meal and you can get those items anywhere. We had a fantastic baguette from a gas station once. Imagine that.

The madeleines took two shots and I ended up combining two recipes to get exactly what I wanted in look, texture, and taste.

This is what happened with Trial 1.

The butter was too hot in the pan and overcooked the edges of the cookies. Also, the oven temperature was too high and the time too long.

And this is what happened with Trial 2.

These looked better, but were lacking in flavor.

From the trials, this is what I would do to make a madeliene:


1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs (at room temperature)

2/3 cup granulated white sugar

 1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

lemon zest from 1 lemon

You’re going to need two madeliene mold pans with 12 madeliene molds in each (or you can do mini madelienes, but you’ll need to reduce the cooking time).

Melt the butter in the microwave and then allow it to cool.

Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a small bowl. Whisk those dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar at medium-high speed until you have nice, high peaks (this will take about 5 minutes). When you lift the beaters you should get a steady stream of thick goo.

Zest a lemon with a grater.

Then, you need to beat the vanilla and lemon zest into the egg mixture.

Sift a bit of the flour mixture into the egg mixture and gently fold in using a large rubber spatula. Repeat this with the rest of the flour mixture.

Put a spoonful of egg mixture into the butter to lighten it and whisk. Pour the butter mixture into the egg mixture and fold in. You need to be gentle so as to not let the batter sink in.

Cover the dough and let it rest for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.

Scoop the dough into the molds, allowing the dough to mound at the middle of the mold.

Bake for about 8 minutes. Watch your madelienes carefully. They can over-bake very quickly and you’ll get some tough cookies.

Remove the pan from the oven and flip over onto a clean surface.

Move the cookies to a cooling rack and allow to cool thoroughly.

Dust with powdered sugar and serve.

Madelienes are best the first day. You can store in an air-tight container up to 2 days, then freeze any remaining cookies.

The evening of the quake we enjoyed fresh madelienes and hot tea on the porch. We were given another day.


4 responses »

  1. Kelsey, I’ve never had a Madeliene, but I could almost taste it reading your description. Oh, the Madelienes and tea on the porch…ahhhhh. My kind of evening.

    You know I am NO kind of cook, but I am tempted to try your recipe. I have friends coming for afternoon tea in the next couple weeks, and I may just give it a go. My new-old stove(converted coal stove) has the best oven! Everything bakes so evenly…this would be the place to try it. I’ll let ya know….


  2. I love you Kelsey:)


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