Madeleines are butter loaded French sponge cakes shaped like small rounded shells, so cute and delicious!
No one really knows the real story about the origins of the madeleine. Jean Avice, a pastry chef who worked for Prince Talleyrand, is said to have invented the Madeleine in the 19th century. Another theory says during the 18th century in the French town of Commercy, in the region of Lorraine, a young servant girl name Madeleine made them for Stanislas Leszczynska, the deposed king of Poland when he was exiled to Lorraine. Then they became popular in Versailles by his daughter Marie, who was married to Louis XV (1710–1774). Maybe the right story was that in the town of Commercy there was a convent dedicated to St. Mary Magdelen. Since the nuns in 18th century France frequently supported themselves and their schools by making and selling a particular sweet, probably when all the convents and monasteries of France were abolished during the French Revolution, they sold their recipe to the bakers… Who knows? But one thing is right; Proust made these sweets famous around the world by talking so good about them.
I have to confess, my story with Proust didn’t start right. When I was a kid I spent the winter vacations in my uncle’s mountain house where he had a collection of Proust’s images hanging on the hallway wall. At night, with just one light bulb on and outside the house the pictures looked really scaring, dark with some points of light, usually at Proust serious, profound eyes. For me, that old dude looked very mean and whenever I needed to pass there I ran down the hallway as fast as I could. That’s over, I’m a big girl now and don’t get scared so easily anymore! I’ve never read his work but I’m curious about it and I relate to him because of the passion for madeleines we have in common!
Now madeleines are fashionable in US, coming along with the coffee culture, and therefore being sold at Starbucks and other coffee shops. University of Illinois Professor Armine Kotin Mortimer says the madeleine resurgence also coincides with a renewed interest in the reading of Proust's great work that began about a decade ago. "Proust has become a phenomenon, and anyone who reads Proust is going to come to the madeleine very early on," she said. Or the opposite, start eating madeleines and end up reading Proust! One way or the other, they are 2 good things to do!
For madeleines recipes, check this website: Food Network