Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Bride of Frankenstein Madeleines

The real deal:

I’m not really so much into Halloween lately. It might be because here in the City, people are so terrified to let their children go door to door that instead they go store to store collecting candy. It takes the fun out when you can’t see kids all dressed up and excited coming and going.

When I first moved into my current apartment, my roommate at the time overloaded on candy, we received a solo trick-or-treater and were still eating through the bounty into the New Year. Today, D brought home a bag of Dove Dark Chocolate. “What’s that?” I asked. “For the trick-or-treaters.” “Mmm, kids really love dark chocolate.” “I don’t care, it’s for me.”

Which tends to be the attitude when we go collecting candy anyway, right? I remember my mother bought king-sized bars since we at most received 5 kids on Halloween and she wanted to award them for coming out of their way. Before Halloween she would remove some of the handout candy before kids came around and squirrel it away. The candy ended up being ours for the taking eventually. It's the same role my brothers and I took. We would arrive home from a night of Halloween, post egg and shaving cream fights, fears of local cats being skinned and bigger kids driving around with BB guns, and trade our candy between the three of us. We then stealthily (or so we thought) hid our candy in different areas of the house, taking a few pieces out for a daily (or hourly) sugar high, saving the prized pieces, those elusive king sized bars, for last. Some years, we were still eating through our stash into April.

There is also the added pressure of coming up with the “best” costume around Halloween. All those cops, slut angels and naughty doctors are tiresome. I could never think of a fabulously original idea I was happy with and inevitably went as “evil Stacey.” She looks just like normal Stacey but is certifiably evil. [It reminds me of pub/ bar quiz nights—where the cleverness of your team name can make or break your fame (at a recent quiz night our team name was Kim Jon Illin’, pretty good I think).]

Here are some good costume ideas from friends of mine I will share if you are still in need for tomorrow night:
Avian Bird Flu (bird feather, surgical mask and a few added funnies)
Ms. Scarlet and Professor Plum (a la Clue: carry a candlestick, library book, or other Clue-centric items. I think this would also be great for groups to go as all the Clue characters).

Will report if I see anything clever around the City tomorrow, so far just the standard Goth Pirate, “sexy” Kitty and red sweat suit wearing devil. As for the Madeleines below…

A few months ago my mother gave D a Madeleine pan. In the meantime we have been searching for the perfect recipe. After much contemplation, we went with one from Gourmet’s Best of Paris cookbook. They turned out fabulously puffy and moist with a great aroma and buttery flavor. I thought they had a slight resemblance to The Bride of Frankenstein so I doctored them up with a little cocoa powder.

Makes 2-3 dozen cookies depending on cookie sheet size . Active time= 20 minutes. Inactive time= 40 minutes.
Special equipment: 3 madeleine pans
* 1-½ sticks (¾ cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus additional for brushing
* 1-¼ cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)
* ½ teaspoon baking powder
* ¼ teaspoon salt
* 3 large eggs
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 2/3 cup granulated sugar
* 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
Confectioners sugar for dusting (in this case, cocoa powder)

1) Set oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 350F. Brush molds with melted butter.
2) Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat eggs in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until light and foamy, about 30 seconds with a standing mixer or 1 minute with a handheld, then beat in vanilla.
3) Gradually add granulated sugar, beating constantly at high speed, and continue to beat until mixture is tripled in volume, about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a handheld.
4) Sift flour mixture in 3 or 4 batches over eggs, folding (with a spatula) in each batch until just combined. Then fold in zest and melted butter.
5) Spoon a rounded tablespoon of batter into each mold (about two-thirds full) and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of pans halfway through baking, until golden around edges and a tester inserted comes out clean, 10 to 12 minutes total.
6) Invert madeleines onto a rack and dust scalloped sides with confectioners sugar.
NOTE: to get the Bride of Frankenstein effect cut out a piece of paper the size of a finished cookie. Use a pencil to outline The Bride’s hairline, noting that where you cut out will be darkened and where the paper is left behind will remain cookie-colored. Place cut-out over cookies and dust with cocoa powder. Use red food coloring, red hots or other small candies for eyes.

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