adeleines [madlεn] are small, shell-shaped sponge cake pastries made of sugar, flour, and eggs, flavored with freshly grated lemon zest, and baked in special molds which give them those recognizable, familiar grooves. They gained global reputation when a French novelist, critic, and essayist, Marcel Proust, best known for his monumental novel “À la recherche du temps perdu” (In Search of Lost Time; earlier translated as Remembrance of Things Past), mentioned them in his novel.
He uses Madeleine to describe involuntary memory: when the main character takes a bite of this treat, the taste and the smell takes him back to his childhood. When making Madeleines, it is important to prepare the mold in advance. You should butter the indents carefully with melted butter, using a fine brush, and leave the mold upside down until butter sets. That way, all the excess butter will drip down, and your Madeleines will have beautiful shell shape all the way. When the butter sets, sprinkle the mold with some flour, and you are ready to bake!
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