We’re pairing these rhubarb madeleines with Kendall-Jackson Late Harvest Chardonnay dessert wine–let Proust keep his tisanes. As you can tell from this literary reference, madeleines are French, evocative, and literary. And as with most French foods, madeleines are completely buttery and completely delicious.
Like madeleines, rhubarb has a lot of admirers. It looks like a pink version of celery, but in fact it’s a tangy spear of fruit, beloved as much because of its taste as because it’s a harbinger of warmer weather. In all cases, I like to balance out the acidity with sweetness and richness, and that makes madeleine batter the perfect thing to enrobe the morsels.
I spent a season of my life in France several years ago, and like Proust, I like to look back on all the delicious food and adventures I had there. Thanks to a dose of American rhubarb, though, my madeleines don’t have to be nostalgic, because they’re right here in the spring-y present!
- ¾ cup butter (1½ sticks), plus more for buttering the pans
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
- ½ cup minced rhubarb from one stalk
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Butter a madeleine mold very, very thoroughly.
- Melt the butter and set aside to come to room temperature. Meanwhile, in a double boiler, heat the eggs and the sugar until lukewarm, stirring constantly. You’ll know they’re ready when a drop of them on your wrist feels like nothing.
- Remove from heat and beat until thick but light and creamy, incorporating as much air as possible. This takes a while, up to 10 minutes. When cool, gradually add the flour, stirring to combine. The batter will seem like a paste. Now, add the cool melted butter, the vanilla and almond extracts, and the minced rhubarb. Stir to combine.
- Distribute half the batter in the 12 Madeleine molds. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes, until the Madeleines are puffed in the center and brown around the edges. Let cool about 3 minutes, then carefully pry them from the molds. Wash out all the crumbs, butter well again, and repeat with the second half of the batter. Serve as soon as possible, preferably within the day.