Our friend and labmate, Carrie, recently returned from a 4-month stint in Paris, France as part of her doctoral studies (we were insanely jealous the whole time =P). After she re-acclimated to life in the Midwest, the three of us got together to have a dinner-movie-cooking night, and made some delicious desserts while watching Disney's Beauty and the Beast - which, fittingly, takes place in France :) One of the desserts we made were little shell-shaped sponge cakes called madeleines. The recipe we used was originally in French, so here is the English translation - including some of those pesky metric conversions!
Ingredients (makes 9 madeleines):
50 grams butter (about 3.5 tbsp)
65 grams sugar (about 1/3 cup)
1 packet vanilla sugar (about 2 tsp vanilla sugar*)
65 grams flour (about 2/3 cup)
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Soften butter and mix with sugar and vanilla sugar until well mixed. Add salt and flour and mix. Fill madeleine molds with batter and bake for 10 minutes, or until madeleines are golden brown. Remove from mold and let cool.
These little treats taste fantastic as they are, but we added a chocolate option to ours. Since we made a big batch of madeleines, we melted some dark chocolate and then coated about half the madeleines with chocolate - très délicieux!
*If you can't find vanilla sugar, it can be substituted with a mix of regular sugar and vanilla extract: 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar = 1 tablespoon granulated sugar + 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract. You can also make vanilla sugar at home: Place 2 cups granulated sugar in a container with an airtight seal. Cut one vanilla bean in half, scraping out the seeds into the sugar. Place the bean halves into the sugar, covering them well. Close the container and allow it to sit for about 2 weeks. Add more granulated sugar as you use the vanilla sugar - the beans remain effectively flavorful for several months. (Source: http://www.ehow.com/about_5332306_substitute-vanilla-sugar.html)