I have a tendency to overdo it when I travel. I get excited and want to do everything. The more guidebooks and blogs I read, the more plans I make. My friends and family remind me that “You can’t do everything” and I politely ignore their advice.
This was the case during my last trip to Paris. By the time I left for the airport, I had something planned for nearly every minute of the six days I was staying in the city. The trip started off well and every meal, tour, and experience was beyond my expectations. I was on a traveler’s high but eventually, the jetlag and exhaustion from going non-stop set in and I hit a wall. That’s not a good feeling when you’re in the first few days of over a month of non-stop travel.
By the fourth day of my trip, I was exhausted. I stayed out way too late (blame it on Anto!) and was planning on ‘calling in sick’ to the cooking class I had scheduled for the next morning. I had visions of sleeping in, getting room service, and taking it easy.
Luckily my fear-of-missing-out kicked in and I got my butt out of bed and headed up to Montmartre for the Cook’n with Class Morning Market Class. Although my head hurt and I was running on 3 hours of sleep, I wasn’t about to waste a precious day in Paris.
I unabashedly love pumpkin. Fall is my favorite time of the year and a major reason is because pumpkin is back in season. While I only drink one or two pumpkin spice lattes per year, I could eat pumpkin muffins, cookies, rolls, cakes, and other baked goods every single day.
A few weeks back, I shared my recipe for classic French madeleines with the traditional flavors of butter and lemon zest. I love baking madeleines because they are so simple to make but the result is absolutely delicious. In other words, the work is definitely worth the reward. While I was working on that recipe, a sudden craving for pumpkin hit. Madeleines can be flavored in nearly any way and I knew pumpkin would be wonderful.
Pumpkin and fall spices are the perfect addition to a classic French madeleine. The pumpkin adds richness and moisture and perfectly complements the brown butter. The spices bring the warmth and fall flavors that tie everything together. I like these with the classic garnish of powdered sugar, but a sprinkle of cinnamon-sugar is fantastic too.
Brown butter pumpkin madeleines are exceptional with coffee and tea and I can’t help but wonder how they would pair with a spicy fall pumpkin beer. Pumpkin madeleines make a wonderful breakfast, are a star on any brunch table, and are perfect as an afternoon snack or late night treat. You really can’t go wrong.
Equipment and Tools
Here are few special tools that are helpful for making brown butter pumpkin madeleines:
If you love fall spices, feel free to gradually increase the amount of spices in this recipe.
The best way to get the batter into the pan is using a cookie scoop (see above for my recommendation). You can use a tablespoon but trust me when I say it is worth it to purchase a cookie scoop if you do not have one.
Pumpkin madeleines freeze very well. After they cool, all you have to do is put them in a zip-loc bag and throw them in the freezer. When you’re ready to eat one, pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to warm it up.
If brown butter does not interest you, simply use cooled, melted butter in its place.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat two 12-shell madeleine pans with baking spray.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Let the butter simmer until it is a toasted brown color and has a nutty aroma. There will be dark brown flecks (those are the milk solids) throughout. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the butter into a heat proof measuring cup to cool, making sure to scrape in any brown flecks that are left in the pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Set aside.
Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on medium-high until the mixture is light in color, thick, and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the pumpkin and vanilla extract and mix until combined.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the flour mixture gently by hand. Once the flour is combined, gradually stream in the cooled melted butter and fold it into the mixture until completely incorporated. Be sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to make sure no pockets of flour or butter remain.
Using a small cookie scoop or a tablespoon, fill the molds with batter until they are almost completely full. Press the batter lightly to distribute it into the mold.
Bake the madeleines for 10-12 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. The madeleines should bounce back when pressed with the tip of your finger.
Let cool in the pans for 3-5 minutes and then move to a wire rack. Serve warm sprinkled with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar.
If you do not have two madeleine pans, you can do this in two batches. [br][br]Storage[br]Keep in an airtight container for up to for 2-3 days. The madeleines can also be frozen for up to 2 months and then reheated in the microwave or in a 350 degree oven before serving.
Take a look at the cream cheese coffee cake above and you’ll notice that it isn’t perfect.
Here’s a closer look so you can see what I’m talking about…
I sprayed my pan well, waited for the cake to cool, and used an offset spatula to loosen the edges. Even though I did everything right, the cake still stuck in a few places and it created some bare spots.
When I took this cake out of the pan and saw where it stuck, my immediate thought was that I couldn’t put it on my blog because it wasn’t perfect. Knowing I was running short on time (and not wanting to bake another cake), I considered just editing the photos and using some tricks to make the bare spots disappear.
Then I remembered the lecture I give the students in my baking classes…
I always talk about how I hate perfect baked goods.
Every time I travel abroad for extended periods of time, I find myself craving certain foods that are mainstays of my diet back home. When I spent a summer in Asia, I craved Chipotle, fresh salads, and Cracker Barrel (my guilty pleasure). When studying in France, I craved Asian and spicy foods and, yet again, Chipotle (luckily I was able to temporarily curb that craving during a weekend in London).
In Toulouse (the city in southwest France in which I studied), I was very satisfied with my daily breakfast of a croissant but a friend of mine was desperately in search of peanut butter for his morning toast. He went to several of grocery stores and markets and scoured the American aisle looking on a quest for peanut butter. One day he came back to the dorms thrilled, thinking he had found a jar of it. After opening it up and spreading on toast, it was not at all what he expected. He had actually purchased a jar of speculoos, or a spiced cookie butter. He loved it, but it didn’t satisfy his craving. Eventually, my mom to brought him a jar when she came to visit and he got his fix.