I have two sweet treats for you today. The madeleines recipe is one I was given by Lea Linster, the first – and only – woman to have won the Bocuse D’Or, an annual French competition to choose the best chef in the world. Lea has had a Michelin-starred restaurant in Luxembourg since 1987, where she serves Irish beef. When I won the Bailey’s Young Chef as a 21 year-old, my prize was to work in her restaurant and learn my trade from the best. What a prize. We have remained friends ever since. When she visits Blacklion she always comments on how good Irish dairy is. She loves our milk and yoghurt – so hats off to our farmers.
The key to these madeleines is browning the butter, which gives it a toasted, nutty flavour. The French refer to it as beurre noisette. We serve these every day to finish our breakfast experience in the restaurant. It’s important to end on a sweet note.
Both of these recipes are popular in the cookery school. When overnight guests arrive, there will be shortbread biscuits waiting in their room to enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee. I also love these crumbled over ice cream or a cheesecake.
160g (6 oz) butter, plus extra (melted) for greasing
50g (2 oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
160g (5) egg whites, at room temperature
160g (6 oz) icing sugar
70g (2.5 oz) ground almonds
1. Lightly grease the madeleine tins (tins which have cups that look like seashells) with melted butter, then dust with flour, shaking off any excess.
2. Place in the fridge for at least two hours, but overnight is best
3. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark five.
4. Place the butter in a small pan and allow to bubble and brown; cooking gently for about five minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
5. Place the flour, almonds and sugar into a large bowl. Add the egg whites and the cooled brown butter.
6. Using an electric mixer, beat until well combined and smooth.
7. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag. Pipe the ?prepared madeleine trays, but be careful not to overfill.
8. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until well risen, golden and springy to the touch.
9. Remove from the oven and leave to rest in the tin for two minutes, then ease out of the tins with a spoon and leave to cool slightly on a wire rack.
10. Enjoy these bakes while they are fresh and still warm out of the oven.
275g (10 oz) butter, diced, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
150g (5 oz) icing sugar, sieved, plus extra to decorate
275g (10 oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
150g (5 oz) cornflour
1. Place the butter and icing sugar in a bowl, then sieve the flour and cornflour on top.
2. Using a hand-held beater, mix until you have achieved a smooth dough, adding one tablespoon of cold water to help bring the mixture together, if necessary. Cover with clingfilm. Place in the fridge to rest for at least one hour or, preferably, overnight.
3. Roll out the shortbread on a lightly floured work surface until it is 3mm (1/8 inch) thick. Stamp out discs using a 5cm (2-inch) fluted cutter.
4. Place on a greased baking sheet and leave to rest again in the fridge for 10 minutes as this will prevent them from shrinking.
5. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas Mark 4).
6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown. Once baked, carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool.
7. To serve, arrange on a plate or use as required.