Some call these "cookies" but madeleines are really mini sponge cakes. Light and airy; with a crisp exterior made golden by the seashell pan that highlight the ridges and depressions of its signature scalloped shape. Delicate but made indulgent at the same time; as only French pastries seem to be able to do. With the scent of vanilla and hints of chamomile, these cakes are not only a treat, but calming a the same time.
During this busy time of year, many become overwhelmed with the "to do" list. Wrapped up in all the hustle and bustle, I have heard references of "Merry Stress-mas" by more than a few. It is often difficult to remove the "must" do from the "I want to" do lists, but maybe baking a batch of these madeleines can help you relax while also enjoying one of the traditions of Christmas; baking!
Sustainability Spotlight: What is the one "key" ingredient that any pastry chef will tell you is key to their amazing confections? 9 out of 10 will say it is the butter! It helps baked goods rise and in pie crusts, it allows for that lovely flaky texture. At the end of the day though, butter is simply fat solids. The same type of benefit you get from your baking via dairy based butter is the same as incorporating plant-based butter.
However, plant-based butters are what are likened to highly processed foods versus the less processed ingredient of butter. As such, the manufacture of some of the margarines and vegan butters in the marketplace can be considered industrialized or chemical processes. This nomenclature and thought process has been a part of the historical narrative supporting butter (the dairy industry) and undermining the plant-based alternative butters.
That narrative has been changing lately. According to faunalytics.com, who reviewed the life-cycle assessment (LCA) for both dairy and plant-based alternative butters, "the study found that overall emissions for plant-based products were generally lower than dairy products....(and) plant-based products have lower land footprints." Overall, after studying 18 environmental impact areas for both dairy and butter, the conclusion was a resounding "plus" for plant-based products. "...(T)he science is increasingly clear: plants have a lower environmental impact than animals. This is true even for highly-processed plant-based foods, like butter and cream replacements."
So, vegans rejoice in your Christmas baking knowing your sustainability impacts have improved by NOT using dairy butter, but you haven't compromised flavor or texture. That fact will become even more apparent to you as you venture into vegan baking; especially, if you bake up these madeleines!
2/3 cup cake flour
1/3 cup almond flour
3 tbsp arrowroot powder
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tea bag (or 1 tsp) chamomile tea
3 tbsp vegan butter (I used Miyoko's European Cultured Vegan Butter)
1/2 cup (room temperature) oat milk
1/2 tbsp vanilla paste
1 tbsp fresh orange juice
Sift (don't skip this step - sifting is a MUST for the light and airy cookie cake here) all Dry Ingredients into a medium bowl.
Whisk all Wet Ingredients in a large measuring cup (or small bowl).
Add Wet Ingredients to Dry Ingredients and stir just until combined.
Place batter into the fridge for at least 1 hour; then proceed to Step 5 below.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degree F on convection setting (if you have it)
Spray a madeleine cookie pan with cooking spray and spoon chilled batter into each mold (dough makes 12 cookies).
Slide pan into oven and cook for 8-10 minutes or until the edges look golden brown. Note, the side of the cookies "facing" you in the tin will still look very pale. That's okay! Touch the cookies lightly with your finger, and if they spring back / feel spongey to the touch, they are done).
Let cool in the pans completely; they should slide out easily, but if not, run a knife around the edges and tap the pan lightly.
Serve cooled; store up to 4 days in an air tight container.
With love & hope for a better future for all of us - Jamie