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Brown butter & star anise Madeleines

Madeleines are essentially little french teacakes, with a crisp shell and a light airy centre.

I've tweaked a classic recipe with the addition of browned butter; giving them a rich but gentle nuttiness. A brown butter glaze, star anise and roasted hazelnuts places these beauties in another league entirely.

These glorious high tea treats have long been associated with being tricky to make. This couldn't be further from the truth if you follow a few of my simple troubleshooting steps.

Here's how......

Ingredients for madeleines

120g butter

120g self raising flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

110g granulated sugar

zest from 1 lemon

1 tsp vanilla essence

2 large room temperature eggs

Ingredients for glaze and topping

100g icing sugar

40g butter

2 tbsp milk

handful of hazelnuts

1 star anise

Madeleines rely on the batter being chilled prior to baking, and the madeleine tray being frozen for an hour also, so its worth factoring this in to your timings.

You'll need a madeleine tin, the indents look like shallow seashells and give the madeleines their iconic shape and crispness. If you don't have one you could use a shallow metal bun tin instead. Silicone moulds just don't seem to work with this recipe so please don't be tempted to buy one especially!

1. Ensure your tin is scrupulously clean and dry with no previous grease or baking residue, then brush the indented shell shapes carefully with melted butter and place the tin in the freezer while you prepare the batter.

2. Place butter in a saucepan and on a medium heat begin to melt it. Continue to cook the butter until it begins to foam and starts to smell 'nutty' you are aiming for a light golden nut brown colour. This happens quickly so watch carefully, removing from the heat and swirling to see past the foam regularly. once the butter is browned take off the heat and place to one side. You'll notice nutty brown sediment in the bottom , this is normal and should be included!

3. Place sugar vanilla essence and eggs in a mixing bowl and using an electric whisk on high speed whizz for a good 8-10 minutes. The mix should be voluminous and foamy and leave a ribbon trail when you lift out the beaters.

4. Sift the flour and baking powder together in a large bowl and add egg and sugar mixture to it. Using a spatula carefully cut and fold until the flour if incorporated. Don't over mix or beat!

5. Now take a couple of spatulafuls of batter and add to the cooled browned butter, mix well.

6. Now add the browned butter mix to the rest of the batter and using the same cutting and folding motion incorporate fully. Don't worry, the mix looks like it curdles before it incorporates.

7. Cover and place the batter in the fridge for 30-4o minutes to chill.

8. While the batter is chilling remove the madeleine tray and apply a second thin coat of melted butter to the tin and place back in the freezer.

9. Preheat the oven to 175c

10. Remove baking tray from the freezer and batter from the fridge. Using a tablespoon very carefully add batter to each mould or bun tin. You will notice that the butter will semi solidify in the batter making it thicker and the mix will be full of bubbles. (this is normal) The trays should be around 2/3 full of mixture, don't overfill, the mix will flow over the sides ruining the classic shape. Place remaining batter back in the fridge for a second batch.

11. Place in your preheated 175c oven for around 10-12 minutes. the Madeleines should develop a golden brown colour and have the iconic madeleine hump!

12. Gently tap out the madeleines onto a wire rack to cool.

13. Allow the baking tray to cool, clean well, butter and freeze again for 30 minutes and repeat with a second batch of the refrigerated batter.

Now you have a wire rack full of tempting madeleines its time to glaze!

1. Using the same method as before gently brown the butter.

2. Add enough of the icing sugar to create a stiff paste.

3. now add a tablespoon of milk at a time to create a 'dippable' glaze.

Using a pestle and mortar grind the star anise to a powder, this will take time and its important to ensure all woody elements are well ground. now scoop together and set aside.

Roughly chop hazelnuts, i quite like the dark flecks of the shells, but you can remove if you prefer. Set chopped nuts aside.

Dip the madeleines into the glaze, allow to drip, place on greaseproof paper then while the glaze is still wet sprinkle each with a pinch of star anise powder and scatter with chopped hazelnuts.

Allow the glaze to dry (it will stay slightly soft because of the butter content)

store in an airtight container for uptown a week.....if they last that long!

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