Sometimes, the most difficult thing about being busy is not being able to stick to your "routine." Humans, by nature, are creatures of habit. When we're children and beyond - including the college students in the classes I teach - we will chose a seat the first day of class, and more often than not, will return to that same seat the rest of the semester. Most people have a 'morning routine' and a 'bedtime' routine...we'll wash our faces, brush our teeth, eat in the same place every night...those types of things. Me, I like to come home from work, feed the dogs (or nag Dr. Loving Boyfriend to do it, as every good Dr. has a good woman to keep him in line), set to work preparing dinner, eat it at the table, in my chair, then relax and do whatever I'm feeling like that evening. And let me tell you, I really like to read my food magazines, get ideas for things I want to make, go to the grocery store, all that foodie-type stuff...

But being so busy lately, my food magazines have been piling up, unread. My fridge, usually bursting to the hilt from my trips to the farmer's market, has become devoid of vegetables and other perishables, save what we purchased for single dinners while Loving Boyfriend's parents were here), and I haven't opened a cupboard, planned a meal, or banged around a pan in weeks. This weekend was my revenge.

Last week, after working long hours non-stop, after entertaining (although, Loving Boyfriend, being the gem that he is, did most of the cooking) for nearly a week every evening, I dropped one of my precious experiments on the floor at the very last step. It was horrible. I knew it would take me an entire week to re-do that single part of my experiment. I wanted to cry. I wanted to throw things. I called Loving Boyfriend and whined. And then I did as every foodie must do: I prompty went out, drove straight to my favorite kitchen store, and bought myself a pan I'd been wanting for quite some time - a madeline mold. This weekend, I finally got to use it.

Sometimes, comfort for me is in following my routine. Sometimes it's taking a hike or getting out in the sunshine when I've been couped up inside a building for too long. Sometimes it's driving an hour to the coast just to sit in front of that big grey ocean and let it work its magic on me. Sometimes it's just laying around on the couch watching a movie or reading a book or a magazine. And over the last year, comfort has become getting into my kitchen, banging some pans around, and making something to eat. This weekend, comfort came in the shape of those soft, cake-like distinctively shell-shaped madeline cookies, and a steaming cup of hot tea.

May you find your own little piece of comfort today.

Orange-Cardamom Madeleines, from Martha Stewart Living
Makes 2 dozen

1/4 cup unsalted butter, plus more for pan
1 tbsp. good-quality honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs

3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
2 tbsp. strained orange juice

Brush the molds of a madeline pan with butter, then set aside. Make the batter: Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat, then stir in honey and vanilla. Let cool 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325F. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and cardamom together in a small bowl; set aside. Stir together the eggs and sugar in a medium bowl and fold in the the flour mixture until combined. Add the butter mixture and fold in until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Spoon batter into prepared pan, filling each mold halfway. Tap the pan against the counter to remove any air bubbles. Bake until cookies are puffed and golden around the edges; about 7-8 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and allow to cool about 10 minutes. Unmold cookies onto rack and let cool completely.

Make the glaze: Stir together the sugar, orange zest and orange juice in a small bowl until the glaze is smooth, thick and opaque. Coat the ridged side of each cookie with glaze using a small pastry brush. Let set 15 minutes. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days, but truly, they are best the first day as they begin to get a bit soggy after a few days.

My notes: The glaze wasn't as thick as it needed to be - the first round soaked right into the cookie instead of sitting on top of it, so I added more confectioner's sugar until it was a bit thicker. Also, it's difficult to only fill the molds up halfway (what's halfway in a madeline mold?!), so mine ended up being a bit bigger and I only got about 1.5 dozen. The cookies are quite sweet due to the glaze, but the cardamom leaves a very nice spicy bite at the end. I do think they are best with tea (I like Earl Grey with them) to cut through the sweetness of the glaze.

19 comments from you:

Nerissa said...

Nice to see you back, sweetie. I am SOOO sorry to hear about your dropped experiment. I'd by crying and kicking myself for ages. Glad you got one thing nice out of it: madeline molds. I LOVE madelines. I made an absolute pig of myself on them in France. The cardamom spicing sounds great! mmmmm...

May I join you for a spot of tea and some madelines please...

J said...

hi michelle, glad something so beautiful came out of what looked to be impending disaster! i know exactly what you mean about itching to cook/bake/read food mags/buy fancy groceries but just not having the time for it...sometimes, reality has a way of taking over ;) hope all is going well; do take care

vlb5757 said...

You did not call me to come and have tea and cake with you. What's up with that dearie? I am sorry about the floor meeting the experiment. I know that's tough. I hate dropping the fourth chicken breast for the family of four on the floor. Of course it has to go into the trash and I have to get in the car and drive to the store in the middle of a cookday and buy a package of chicken breast for ONE lousy breast. Makes me nuts, but crap happens.

Shall we say DLB now (Dr. Loving Boyfriend)?

I hope that you are back to blogging again! I have missed your posts and wonderful sense of humor!

ilva said...

You did the only right thing Michelle! You absolutely NEEDED that madeleine mould and next time something like that happens you need a trip to Italy to steam off, right here in my garden!

linda said...

Michelle, the recipe came at a perfect time. I just bought a medeline mold to compensate for the breakage of my camera. (There were tears and throwing involved there ~ after the camera broke). Can't wait to try it and I am sorry to hear about the experiment hitting the floor.

cookiecrumb said...

Gorgeous. You just transported me to a cork-lined room with that evocation.

michelle said...

Hi Nerissa!
Oh please join me! Tea is made for two, right? And madelines are made to be shared!

Hi J! Reality sure does get in the way sometimes, and disasters do happen, but there's nothing like a good cookie to make you feel better!

Hi Vickie! Believe me, you're always welcome to come for tea! Maybe we could have phone "tea dates"?! Wow - dropping the fourth chicken breast sounds pretty awful! Maybe even worse to have grumpy hungry family members waiting for it! We can certainly call him DLB for a while - he deserves it after all that hard work...but we don't want to give him TOO big of a head!

Hi Ilva! I think so too! Ah, to rest in an Italian garden and drink tea and eat cookies...sounds perfect to me! You just better watch all these invites though...I might just win the lottery and come and live with you!

Hi Linda! Oh, bummer. That really sucks. Sorry to hear about your camera! I hope these cookies make you feel as good as they did me! I can't wait to see what kind of madelines you come up with!

Hi Cookiecrumb! Why, thank you. Happy to transport you anywhere nice, my dear!

Anna said...

I've just started reading your blog and have enjoyed myself immensly. As a fellow grad student I can completely empathize with lab frustrations. I just wanted to drop you a note to say hello and thank you for entertaining me during my incubations :) Lissa

Paz said...

So glad you're back blogging! Your Madeleines look yummy!


Clare Eats said...

I have been wanting a madeline pan fooorrr soooooooooo looonnnnngggggg I just had a horrible test on quantitative methods do you think that is enough of an excuse to buy me a pan and some ingrediants?

I sooo feel your pain about the experiment...... but madelines should make it alright *hug*

Rachael said...

I love madelines and yet, I hate Proust. Damn Proust.

(Sorry, I drifted away for a second there)

These look lovely and your writing just keeps getting better...I'm absolutly going to try this



michelle said...

Hi Lissa! Thanks for visiting - I love knowing that there are other scientists out there that love food, and might be thinking of something other than science while their experiments are running. I can't wait to check out your blog - I see you're in Mass. LB is from the Berkshires!

Hi Paz! I missed you too :)

Hi Clare! Mmmmeeeee tooooo! And absolutely - you must run right out and buy yourself a madeline pan - I'm convinced they are the cure for most ails! Thanks for the hug - I definitely needed one after watching my poor plate meet the hard, cold lab floor. Boo hoo...

Hi Rachael! Aw, shucks, thanks! Madelines beat out Proust anyday!

Clare Eats said...

I did it! I bought the tin and I made some
OH WOW! but I decided to make the traditional flavour first ;)

Natalia said...

I've always wanted a madeline pan. I like your idea of using it as something comforting. I think I'll have to do that, I can always use some extra comfort.

michelle said...

Go get one like Clare and I did!! I swear the first time you make them, any thoughts of regret will disappear into cookie heaven. Glad to see that you're back!

farmgirl said...

What an interesting coincidence--I've had your blog open all day today but hadn't gotten around to leaving a comment. Then I just received that nice Oregon e-hug from you. Thank you so much. Love the photo of the madeleines. Don't think I've ever seen any that looked as scrumptious as those. And all the colors in the photo are just lovely.

michelle said...

Hi Farmgirl! There's always a hug for you here - you're one of my blog muses, my dear! I'm glad you like the picture - I love when I finally get one that "works!" Especially since it's so DARK here until summer comes along!

Anonymous said...

What makes a good Madeleine, or a good blog for that matter? Is it intrinsic or a matter of mood?

I think we may be alter egos: I'm a former Biology major, would-be marine biologist and full time food scientist. I enjoy both the science and the creativity of food and cooking. Better living thru chemistry, I say.

Kudos for the great picture. How about some Madeleine also rans? I actually am involved in a development project using Madeleines so an upgrade to my expertise in this area would be most welcome...

michelle said...

Hi PNWSteve!
Thanks for coming by my site! Good questions - it's probably a combination of both. I always enjoy meeting people who are/were scientists with a love of food like my own...I'm convinced, in fact, that the two go hand-in-hand. I may eventually move in that direction someday. I'm not sure I know what you mean when you say 'Madeline also rans,' but if you'll do me the favor of explaining a bit more, I'd do my best to help! And just where in the PNW are you?