My well-connected pal Elaine Chon-Baker sent me a text letting me know that my idol, French chef Jacques Pépin, was in Washington, DC, for an interview and book signing at a Smithsonian museum that evening. She had an extra ticket for me if I could get there in time, and asked if I could bring some snacks for the Pépin family to enjoy before they went onstage. We made Buttermilk Chocolate Chewies and, at the last moment, I thought to add authentic madeleines, the traditional butter cookie, for Jacques.
It was a gutsy move baking these for the best French chef around, but I learned to make them from chef Mark Ramsdell of L’ Academie de Cuisine. Mark had been trained by White House chef Roland Mesnier, who gave us the original recipe, and it was one of my favorites. I was elated when Jacques pronounced them “terrific!” and his daughter (and TV costar), Claudine Pépin said they were the best she’s ever had.
Use a metal madeleine pan (we prefer the ones without the nonstick coating) with twelve wells, each about 3-1/4 by 2 inches. The pans are available online at williams-sonoma.com. Note that if you have only a single mold, you have to thoroughly clean and re-prep it before making the second batch of madeleines.
— Brian Noyes
Excepted from Red Truck Bakery Cookbook, by Brian Noyes © 2018. Published by Clarkson Potter Publishers. Photos © 2018 by Andrew