Instead of baking the normal 9x9 pan, I thought it would be fun to try making corn muffin madeleines.
This is a madeleine pan. Traditionally used to turn out delectable little cake-like cookies, the shell-shaped pan can also produce other bite-sized goodies. Any quickbread with a cake-like consistency, such as gingerbread, banana bread, or--in my case, cornbread--works well in this pan:
Secret Weapon #1 for making madeleines: Suspend the pan over the kitchen sink (so you don't accidentally coat your counters or floors with a fine coat of oil). Holding the pan at one end, spray it thoroughly once, then turn it 180 degrees and spray it again. That makes sure you've coated every nook and cranny of the mold.
Fill each cup about 2/3 full of your batter. Don't worry if there's a little drip over the side. Just wipe it up with your finger:
You can tell when your madeleines are done because if you touch one gently, it will spring back a bit. Also, it should have just a bit of a browned edge at the thinnest part:
Secret Weapon #2 for making madeleines: Don't attempt to remove the cakes from the mold until you've let them cool a few minutes. Then--and only then--use a slim knife or spatula with a rounded (not pointed) edge and gently loosen the sides and the butt end (that's the end opposite the scallops) a little bit:
Loosening the butt end
I've found out the hard way that a pointed knife tends to tear into the madeleine. A round-tipped knife helps prevent this.
Loosening the sides
In my kitchen, the perfect tool for the job is my "Juli" knife, the sole remaining member of a fork-knife-spoon set of child-sized cutlery that my Nana had engraved with my name, then gave me when I was a tyke. Unfortunately, when I wasn't using them for eating, I was digging with them in my mom's garden. That's how I lost both the spoon and fork. (The knife didn't make a good digging tool, so it escaped that horrible fate.)
Somewhere in the dirt in Dayton, Ohio, the mates to this knife are hiding:
Oh, how I treasure this one, remaining piece!:
Anyhow, take your time gently loosen each madeleine, then tip them on their side and let them continue to cool in the pan:
Secret Weapon #3 for making madeleines: Resist the temptation to just spray the heck out of the pan and dump in your second batch of batter. You'll regret it! Take the time to wash and thoroughly dry out the pan before you prep it for the second batch, and you'll pop out perfect madeleines until the last dab of batter is all used up.
You'll end up with tasty and visually appealing little bites:
The corn muffin madeleines have just a hint of a shine to them, which adds to their visual appeal:
They are the perfect accompaniment to a hearty bowl of chili or soup on a cold winter's day:
But, when you make a double batch of anything like soup or stew or chili, that's a HUGE amount of dense, hot food to ask your fridge to cool. Putting the pot directly in your fridge can raise the internal temperature to unsafe levels.
The solution? An ice bath!
Extra added bonus: after cooling a pot like this in an ice bath, you can safely place it right on top of a plastic-wrapped, ready-made pizza crust, like you see above. And--full disclosure for those who love to see what's inside other people's fridges (I sure do!)--that's a bottle of Pom juice next to the chili, and on the shelf above, nonfat plain yogurt, Bombay Sapphire Gin, and a plastic quart container with home-made soup stock.
Corn Muffin Madeleines
3/4 C. all-purpose flour
1 C. cornmeal
1/4 C. wheat germ
1/4 C. granulated sugar
1.5 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground mace
1 C. milk
3-4 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
2 eggs, well beaten
vegetable cooking spray
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine milk, butter, and beaten eggs. Combine dry and wet ingredients quickly (do not overmix, or the cornbread will be tough, not tender).
Thoroughly coat a 9x9 or 8x8 baking pan (or a madeleine mold) with cooking spray. Pour batter into the baking pan. (If using madeleine molds, fill each cup about 2/3 full.) The baking pan will take about 20 minutes; the madeleines will be ready in 8 to 10 minutes. Cornbread is done when it is golden and the edges are just beginning to turn brown. Remove from oven and cool slightly before running a rounded-tip knife around the edges of the pan or mold to release the cornbread. When partially cooled, turn out and serve immediately or allow to cool completely, then store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Produces one square pan of cornbread, or about 3 dozen madeleines.
1 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 12-oz. cans chopped or diced tomatoes (not drained)
16 oz. canned tomato sauce
3 tsp. chili powder (or more, to taste)
1-2 tsp. granulated sugar (optional)
scant teaspoon of salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne red pepper
1/4 tsp. paprika
3 15-oz. cans beans (drained) (I like to use a combination of kidney, black, pinto, and/or cannelini--basically whatever is in the cupboard)
In a large soup pot, cook and stir the ground meat and onion until the meat is no longer pink and the onion is tender. Drain off any fat (there will be very little, if any). Stir in remaining ingredients except beans.
Heat to boiling. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 2 hours, stirring occasionally. (Or cook uncovered, about 45 minutes.) Stir in beans; heat through and serve immediately (or cool, using ice-bath method described above).
Makes 4 or 5 servings. Recipe can be doubled. Chili always seems to taste better the second--or even third--day, so you can make this recipe ahead.