I spent the first part of 2015 trying to connect with Puerto Rico, the commonwealth land of my ancestors that is currently undergoing so much financial trauma that it’s hard to say whether they’ll bounce back; but not hard to say that there is a social upheavel on the horizon. But, as soon as the summer hit, I was longing to reconnect with those dusty backroads sandwiched between endless rows of almond trees. While to most, these orchards represent one of the reasons for the severe drought of Northern California, to me they represent the means of how my single mother raised her only child. Working at Almond Growers (which is now Blue Diamond), my mother worked as a sorter on the line. A mechanical environment that requires no thought or creativity, day after day of autopilot hand and eye sorting. In the summer the factory would hand their workers pink slips, my mom would have the whole summer off, and there was always a huge clear plastic bag of individually wrapped almonds in the kitchen cabinet; confectioner sugar covered, hickory smoked, natural, green onion.
Orchards were virtually my backyard. I love that the rigid and wild coastline of Drake’s Bay is a leisurely drive away from where I currently live, and there you can close your eyes, feel the untamed breeze and imagine you’re soaring in the sky. But, I’d still choose to roam the sepia backroads strewn with tomatoes that have fallen off the back of a truck and escaped their demise as pedestrian marinara. Being pedestrian was always something I feared, that’s why I left Sacramento for San Francisco. That’s why I traveled parts of the world and fell in love with Paris. But, being away for so long, losing some people close to me in the last two-years, it all just made me want to get back home. At 34-years-old, I’m thinking of things most people my age don’t seem to be nearing; how am I going to take care of my mom, what’s my plan as a childless elder, who’s gonna take care of my in-laws? Being in those orchards of my childhood just puts shit into perspective; return home.
Just like the orchards, you need to cultivate as much as you can, while you can. Who knows what’s coming for you. I guess that’s why I finally just put my head down and committed to making madeleines when the registration opened up for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap; my second year participating. It was a great distraction and it felt like I was creating a sense of community – even if temporary – when I mostly feel isolated.
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup ground almond meal
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup confectioner's sugar
- 1 TB fresh lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- I have nonstick madeleine pans, but you can spray your pans with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and granulated sugar until the mixture thickens and develops a light pale color, 3-5 minutes.
- Add your vanilla extract, flour, almond meal, salt and baking powder. While whisking, slowly pour in the melted butter. Mix until everything is incorporated, but don't over mix.
- Divide the batter evenly between the molds in the prepared pans. Bake until golden, about 6-8 minutes.
- Let the madeleines cool in the pan and then turn them over onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- In a small bowl, mix together confectioner's sugar and lemon juice.
- Place wire rack onto sheet tray roughly the same size.
- Dip both side of the cooled madeleines in the lemon glaze, place back on wire rack to allow access glaze to drip down onto sheet tray.
Because it's easier to overmix the batter in a stand mixer, I mix everything by hand.