Monday, February 13, 2012

Sticky Date Madeleines with Butterscotch Sauce

I am in desperate need of a hug. I'm not afraid to say it. I've been hiding in my house for most of the last two days with some eye issues, feeling sorry for myself and waiting for my eyes to fix up. So I really needed some comfort food. One of the most comforting desserts has to be the sticky date pudding. It holds a special place in my heart. It's one of the first desserts that my brother and I learnt to make together, and we would whip up a giant portion and eat it with tons of butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream until we felt totally ill. It's just one of those great winter desserts that makes you happy.
Even with the un-summery weather we've had in Sydney this summer, it's still not quite chilly enough to have me craving the rich warmth of a regular sticky date pudding. Sometimes I find them a tad too heavy and sickeningly sweet, especially the butterscotch sauce. So I decided to do something in the same vein as a sticky date pudding but without the heaviness. I made these sticky date madeleines with a butterscotch dipping sauce. Check out that sexy dipping action shot. Oh yeah.
I love love love madeleines. They are fluffy, buttery clouds of shell-shaped sponge cake happiness. But I'm still a little traumatised from the week where I could not bake a decent madeleine to save my life. It was the baking equivalent of the yips. I've never been so confident about a recipe and had so many successful attempts at it, only to have it completely fail over and over again. I've always thought that a real madeleine doesn't use any chemical leavening, but that week I eventually gave up after numerous failures and used self-raising flour just so I could stop making shell-shaped pancakes. The other day I came across Gourmet Traveller's madeleine recipe and they use baking powder in the batter. I've never had a failure with a GT recipe, so why should I argue with them? I decided to give it a go, but instead of a regular lemon madeleine, I adapted it to be a brown sugar and golden syrup madeleine with chunks of dates. It smells so good while it's baking in the oven.
The one thing that the GT recipe really emphasised was the necessity for resting the batter. I've heard this plenty of times on madeleine recipes, but always ignored it since I had never done this from the very start. And I am too impatient. But I decided to give it the proper overnight resting time to see what difference it made. Ohhh what a difference. The madeleines emerged from the oven with the most GLORIOUS humps (that signature bump on the top of each madeleine, which makes you do the same kind of dance around your kitchen as when you see feet on your macarons). Glorious! So even though I'm still stuck on the idea that a madeleine shouldn't have chemical leavening in the batter, this recipe is very reliable and the madeleines turn out beautifully. And I can use it without fear of failure.
As for the butterscotch sauce, it's a pretty basic one. You can't go wrong with butterscotch sauce. I did use salted butter for mine, which helps balance it out a little so it's not sickeningly sweet. I really insist you make the sauce if you're going to make the recipe. I specifically adjusted the madeleines so they wouldn't be too sweet to eat with the sauce. Together they tastes like a miniature, lighter sticky date pudding. It's the finger food dessert equivalent of the pudding. It's pretty fantastic.
Sticky Date Madeleines with Butterscotch Sauce
(makes about 24, adapted from Gourmet Traveller's Madeleine recipe)
NOTE: This recipe needs to be started several hours ahead of time or the night before
120g (about 1 stick) butter
100g dates, pitted and finely chopped
3 eggs, at room temperature
120g (about a packed 1/2 cup) brown sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
A pinch of salt
175g (approx 1 1/4 cups) plain flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder

For the butterscotch sauce:
1/2 cup cream
25g (about 2 tbsp) salted butter (or unsalted butter + 1/2 tsp salt)
100g (a bit less than half a cup) brown sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Melt butter, either in a saucepan over low heat or zap it in the microwave for a about a minute, set aside so it cools to room temperature but stays liquid (about 2-3 mins). Whisk eggs, golden syrup, brown sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until pale, fluffy and tripled in volume (about 4-5 minutes). Sift over flour and baking powder and fold until just combined. Fold in butter mixture a little at a time until just combined. When you are about to add the last bit of butter, fold in the chopped dates until just incorporated. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Remove batter from the fridge. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) and butter two 12-hole madeleine trays very well and then lightly dust with some flour. (I only have one madeleine tray so I baked one batch after another, regreasing the tray, and it worked fine). Spoon mixture into madeleine holes, filling them up about 2/3-3/4 full. Tap the tray firmly on the bench to expel any bubbles. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden and cooked through. Tap tray to remove madeleines.

Prepare the butterscotch dipping sauce; place cream, butter, sugar and vanilla in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until butter and sugar has melted. Increase heat to medium to bring just to the boil and then reduce back to low and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the mixture thickens. Best served warm. If you do not want to serve with a dipping sauce you can use it to glaze the madeleines.
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  1. First up, and in the hopes that it's not too weird from someone you've never met - *hugs*. I know the feeling and wish I was at home today myself, although without the eye issues, hope that improves soon.

    Love sticky date pudding but haven't had it in a very long time, mostly because of the sauce - it's to die for but just the thought of all that cream, butter and sugar makes me a little queasy. I have compromised a couple of times with sticky date cupcakes and a caramel icing which is delicious. These sound like a fabulously tasty snack too and look beautiful ... I love the shots of them, especially the dipping action shot!

  2. oooh err - those look glorious. I'm not surprised you love them so - I could devour the lot.

    .....have a virtual hug. I know it's not the same.. Smile and the world smiles back. Seriously. When I'm at my lowest, and in the car, I force myself to smile stupidly and most people do smile back. That alone definately helps raise your spirits.

    Then again, I guess you feel much better after eating these !. Yum.

  3. These look amazing! I want now :D

  4. YUM. You've done my name proud- especially with those perfect little madeleine-bellies. Congratulations- as soon as I get my hands on a madeleine pan I'm trying these out! Beautiful photos as always.

  5. Those look extremely amazing and full of deliciousness
    That action shot was extremely smexy ;)
    *gives virtual hug*
    I hope everything works out :)

  6. I feel sorry for you having the eye problems. I have had these issues before and I know what it feels like to be stuck at home being sick. I hope you get well really soon and I would give you a huge hug to make you feel better!

    These madeleines look so delicious! Especially when they're dipped in butterscotch sauce. What a great way to make sticky date puddings (my favourite comfort food too!) in the form of madeleines. You are seriously talented and I should try to make these soon :)

  7. Oooh, yummy. I am mad for sticky date pudding and I've been after a new madeleine recipe. I'm definitely giving these a shot!

    I hope your eye problems clear up soon!

  8. These look so good! And I love the picture with the purple nail polish - looks good against your lovely orange pots. :)

  9. I know the 'my macarons have feet' dance! These are adorable. So perfect! What a great idea to make the dessert into madelines.

  10. Oh *hugs*! Give me a shout if you need any help with your eyes - I have connections with doctors at eye clinics.

  11. These are such a good idea. I love love LOVE sticky toffee pudding, but there are times when it's just not possible to squeeze in after a big meal. Those times are when these madeleines would be perfect. Gorgeous.

  12. Que delicia de magdalenas y como siempre maravillosa fotografia. Un saludo

  13. These look like such a treat Steph. Happy valentine's day to you xo

  14. saw this on FG when I was checking a submission; congrats! (mostly I paid attn b/c they almost never accept hand pics and your purple nail is great!) but I adore butterscotch sauce!

  15. You're an evil genius.
    I just had sticky toffee pudding for the first time and it was love at first bite. I've been meaning to make it...but these may have to do. I'm so excited for's embarrassing.

  16. This is not just the usual madeleines...These are extra special! I am in love with the butterscotch sauce. Yum!

  17. Oh my, they look wonderful! I love the idea of sticky date flavours in madeleine form as I tend to OD on it when I make a full-sized pudding ;) Hope you're feeling better!

  18. Aww i hope ur eyes are ok now! nothing too major? and omg!! those madelines look soooo mooreish!! what a brilliant idea! bet that cheered u right up!

  19. *hugs* *hugs* *hugs* *hugs* *hugs* *hugs* *hugs* *hugs* *hugs* *hugs* *hugs*

  20. maybe i'm just a sucker for anything with 'sticky' in the title, or maybe it's just the fact that these sounds AMAZING. ah its such an interesting idea, i really want to try this.

    also, cute nail color :)

  21. As usual a great idea and I am sure they taste absolutely wonderful.

  22. Ooh these look incredible! I had the best sticky toffee of my life last week - it was out of this world. I love madeleines too - the resting time does seem to make a difference. I bought a mini mad pan when I was in France last year and have yet to try it out. Soon!

  23. Also - hope you feel better soon! I am sending lots of hug vibes from London :)

  24. You have a beautiful blog, and everything looks incredible! Add as follower today.

    Just want to say that I have borrow one picture from you blog and of course linked to you address. Love from Norway and Lilli

  25. These are so darn cute. I'm a total sucker for anything sticky date!

  26. A virtual sugar rush, glorious. I love madeleines and I once have an old tray from my grandmother that instantly connects me to her. Thanks again for the inspiration!

  27. Hi! I think this is my first time commenting, but I have been fascinated looking at your other recipes - you are so innovative with food! These look delicious ^^

  28. Oh, eye things are the worst! I hope it cleared up quickly. The butterscotch sauce looks delicious!

  29. Oh, yum. I finally got around to making these, and they taste just as delicious as they look! Totally just replaced my trusty old Stephanie Alexander honey madeleines recipe as my favourite madeleines to make. I'm going to have to make them again next time I have friends over for afternoon tea.

  30. Oh my gosh YUM! Sticky toffee pudding is my favorite dessert of all time, and these madeleines look fantastic! Definitely saving this recipe!

  31. Steph,

    Thank you for this fantastic adaptation! I have made these 5 (yes 5!) times in the last week - mostly as thank you gifts (they look awesome all bundled up) and the recipients could not have been happier! Last night I made them again for a special birthday dessert, so we doubled the quantity of butterscotch sauce and had them with Maggie Beer's Burnt Fig Ice Cream as well - and as much as I'd like to take all the kudos thrown in my direction - I must share.

    So, thank you very much!


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