SHF #11: vanilla coffee madeleines and warm mocha tarts

Posted on August 11, 2005 by Aun

I’ve never been much of a baker. Baking requires precision. It requires having the patience to measure ingredients properly, which I’ve never actually had. I’ve always been one of those cooks who enjoys eyeballing his measurements. Terms like “salt to taste” were written for over-confident lazy guys like me (of course, some gals would argue that all us guys are over-confident and lazy). The theory is that with enough experience, one instinctively knows how much of each ingredient to add to one’s dish. Of course, it’s just a theory, which as soon as I pull out our lemon-curd colored Kitchenaid mixer is often proved wrong.

Let’s just say that my wife S, who is obsessively precise, is the baker in the family. Which means that, while we share kitchen duties, desserts are her domain. Which further explains why I’ve never taken part in Sugar High Friday before. Until now.

This month’s SHF is being hosted by Ronald of Love Sicily and is a coffee themed challenge.

I love coffee. When I was in university in the USA, I was a total coffee addict, drinking an average of 12 cups a day. Back then, I was a tad silly; my java of choice was made from those frou-frou flavored beans… you know, “vanilla hazelnut” or “chocolate peppermint”, things like that. Fortunately, a study stint in Vienna and an internship in Paris introduced me to proper coffee. Good, strong, small cups of coffee. My cuppa of choice these days is espresso. I like that it’s small, thick, and powerful. I also like mine sweet. I’m still not enough of a purist to take my espresso black. At home, we make ours with the most wonderful wedding present, a day-glo orange Illy Francis Francis.

For this month’s SHF, I decided to make one of the few baked goods that I’m good at, madeleines, this time flavored with espresso and vanilla. I’m a bit of a madeleine nut. I don’t get any Proustian flashbacks when eating them, no early childhood warm fuzzies. I just like, no, love the way they taste. The crisp surface, the buttery cakey insides. I particularly like mini-madeleines; not only is there more of that wonderful crunch, they’re also small enough to dunk in a small coffee cup. Plus they’re just plain more fun to eat.

For these delectable treats, I adapted a recipe from Patricia Wells’ Paris Cookbook, adding 3 tablespoons of espresso and a half teaspoon of pure vanilla essence instead of the lemon rind Mrs Wells asks for as well as a tad more flour to the mix. I made the batter last night, letting it sit in the fridge overnight in order to bake up this batch for breakfast this morning. There’s nothing more wonderful than the smell of baked goods early in the morning except the smell of baked goods combined with the aromas of a good, strong cup of coffee–which as you can see, I enjoyed with my madeleines.

Let’s just say that I had a really good morning.

To compliment my rather limited baking skills, S decided to surprise me after work with a coffee themed treat–something she knew I’d enjoy but also want to boast, er… blog about. Using a recipe from Bittersweet by Alice Medrich, she made a batch of Warm Mocha Tarts. Ms Medrich’s recipe is for one large tart. For ease of eating, S made me 8 small ones. She must have baked them in the late afternoon because they were still a little warm when I got home. The sweet smells of chocolate, coffee, sugar and butter still hung in the air. The dogs, greedy little beasts that they are, were definitely turned on by the tarts. They sat, refusing to move, by the dining room table, where S had left the tarts to cool. A puddle of drool had even begun to collect by Alix’s mouth. Ignoring them (for their own good of course–chocolate being toxic for dogs), I grabbed one of the tarts and quickly bit into it. The filling was warm, velvety and decadently delicious. The crust, made from sweet cookie dough, offered a delightfully light, crumbly, buttery contrast to the thick rich coffee-enhanced chocolate custard. While I would have been more than happy to eat my way through the lot of them, I managed to exercise enough restraint to stop long enough to take a quick photo. After which, of course, I ate another one.

About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his bouncing baby boy!

What Others Are Saying

  1. tara August 12, 2005 at 1:24 am

    Your madeleines look lovely, as usual. The last time you made them, I was struck by their gorgeous colour and texture, and the same can be said now! And once again, S ups the “darling wife” factor by producing some gorgeous little tarts. Sadly, my S doesn’t like anything coffee flavoured unless it is, well, coffee. Maybe I can find an excuse to make her tart anyway …

  2. Lady Lavender of the Kitchen August 12, 2005 at 3:50 am

    i’d love a recipe for those. Dare I ask if I could get it from you?

    ~emi

  3. Chubby Hubby August 12, 2005 at 10:48 am

    andrea: Yah, I’ve also realized that I’d better start writing down some of my favorite inspired recipes before I simply forget them. I have a little binder for these. Cheers!

    tara: Thanks!

    lavender: Hiya, sure… the madeleines or the tarts? I’ll email the recipe to you.

  4. Lil August 12, 2005 at 5:00 pm

    oh, can i get the madeleine recipe too…? thanks!

    good thing your baking worked out much better than mine.. my walnut brownies last night was a disaster and i don’t even know where i’ve gone wrong… :(

    got to try again and get it right..!

  5. boo_licious August 12, 2005 at 10:13 pm

    What a double treat and so sweet of S to surprise you with those little tarts.

  6. J August 12, 2005 at 11:10 pm

    hmm, those tarts look totally tempting…and can i sign up for madeleine baking lessons please? first, to hunt down the elusive plaque…

  7. Lady Lavender of the Kitchen August 12, 2005 at 11:28 pm

    the madeleines please : )

  8. Chubby Hubby August 13, 2005 at 12:07 am

    Hi Lady Lavender, um… your email address is not on your site, so for you, Lil, and J, you can check out the original recipe via this link. These 2 pages are scanned from Mrs Wells’ awesome Paris Cookbook.

    I added 10g of flour, added 3 tablespoons of espresso and 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla essence. When I make the madeleines directly from the recipe, I admit that I also add a tablespoon of honey, to make the madeleines a tad more moist.

    Hi Boo, yah, she’s awesome.

  9. Monkey Gland August 13, 2005 at 6:57 am

    Looking good as always there Chubby. Man, are you one lucky guy, the girlfriend kicks ass in the corridors of corporate power but she’ll burn a pan of water if left in the kitchen for any length of time…

  10. ChubbyCat August 13, 2005 at 10:13 am

    I’m definitely with you on freestyle cooking. There’s just something about experimenting with and tweaking the ingredients to get a dish “just right”.

  11. Fanny August 13, 2005 at 7:43 pm

    Your little tarts look wonderful, i wish i could have a bite…
    xoxo
    Fanny

  12. Lady Lavender of the Kitchen August 14, 2005 at 1:00 am

    Got it. Thank you. Yes I kept getting advertisments so I stopped posting my address. I had emailed you.. but no bother since you posted everything.

    Thank you Again : )

  13. Lil August 15, 2005 at 6:25 pm

    thanks a mill!

  14. Yassin August 15, 2005 at 7:36 pm

    Hi Chubby Hubby!

    Love your blog, pictures and stories. I am from Malaysia and going to Singapore for a few days. Where would you recommend us to eat, so that we can have a good sampling of Singapore food in all its variety? You might have written on this before, if so, let me know where I can find the posting. Thanks a lot!

  15. Jennifer August 15, 2005 at 10:02 pm

    Welcome to SHF!

    Both desserts are gorgeous – looks as though you might actually have a baking finger after all! But also feel free to have your wife bake again next month for SHF! I hope to see you out again then!

  16. Ruth August 16, 2005 at 12:48 am

    The photos are fabulous, the descriptions great and the “recipes” very helpful. Thanks for sharing

  17. Alex August 16, 2005 at 11:20 am

    hi CH, first time reader, but i’m bowled away by your photos! it’s nice to read a flog that combines delectable commentary with photographs that surpass straightforward snap shots of food. i’ll definitely drop by to look and learn. :) congrats on the mention in the news.

  18. Chubby Hubby August 16, 2005 at 12:43 pm

    Monkey Gland: Well, it’s a good thing for her you are such a good cook.

    Chubbycat: Plus, it’s kind of fun to toss in salt directly from the container… measuring it is sooo tedious.

    Fanny: Sorry, all eaten. Want the recipe?

    Yassin: Wow, there are so many places. I’ve written a bit before. You can cruise through the archives, especially March (I think). Also, you should grab a copy of Makansutra if interested in hawkwer food.

    Jennifer: Yah, I profit hugely (with treats) when she takes part in SHF so I plan on encouraging her to keep baking.

    Ruth: Thanks!

    Alex: Thanks also.

  19. keiko August 17, 2005 at 4:14 am

    Hi Aun – I *know* both of the desserts taste heavenly, but I just love your beautiful photos. Really really lovely.

  20. Chubby Hubby August 17, 2005 at 9:53 am

    Keiko, many thanks. As you know, I’m part of your fan club as well ;-)

  21. Sam August 17, 2005 at 10:29 am

    lovely pictures CH!

  22. Chin Ru August 22, 2005 at 10:13 am

    this looks amazing! i am tempted to ask for the recipe, but instead, am going to ask if Bittersweet by Alice Medrich is a book worth buying?! it looks ilke a most scrumptious read!

  23. S August 22, 2005 at 10:57 am

    Hi Chin Ru

    I’ve noticed that you’re quite a fan of Baking with Julia, so I suspect that we may share similar tastes in the baking books department. Julia’s was one of my first baking title acquisitions. I really enjoy dipping into Bittersweet not only for the recipes, but for her treasure trove of information on chocolate. Her tempering tip has solved all my choc chip ice cream woes. I used to get so upset that even though I used the best Valhrona for choc chips in my homemade ice cream they ended up tasting like pasty frozen cardboard. I highly recommend the book.

  24. Helen (AugustusGloop) October 5, 2005 at 10:59 am

    Congrats on winning both the Aesthetics and Eatability crowns in DMBLGiT! Great shots as always. Always masterfully done.

  25. isabelle January 9, 2006 at 6:19 pm

    woah… those madeleines look absolutely divine! they don’t look anything like the ones they sell in Singapore. would you mind sharing your recipe?

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