When I heard about this month’s Progressive Eats theme, recipes made with tea, my thoughts immediately turned to tea-infused madeleines. I love the concept and had enjoyed Dorie Greenspan’s Earl Grey madeleines. My version is Masala Chai Tea Madeleines.
These madeleines are so fragrant, you will have a hard time letting them cool down before you taste them. They’re best the day they are made, but can also be frozen soon after baking and re-heated for later snacking.
Originally I expected to use store-bought chai tea. But then a little voice in my head, in my daughter Eleanor‘s dulcet tones, said “homemade chai is infinitely better than the stuff in a tea bag.” After a visit to India during college (when she learned the joys of really good chai), Eleanor tried to convince me to make it from scratch. She did not succeed then, but will be glad to know that I heeded her advice this past weekend, at least when it comes to making the spice mix. And now that I’ve used it in Masala Chai Tea Madeleines, steaming cups of comforting chai are definitely in my future.
Not knowing much about chai and without Eleanor by my side, I began my baking adventure with research. First, I checked out Spice Roots, the gorgeous blog written by my pal and fellow Progressive Eats blogger, Ansh. She suggests using Assam or Darjeeling tea as the base. So I did. Ansh’s version is simple and mild, with just ginger and mint (plus the tea, milk and sugar, of course.) Lovely for a drink, but I wanted more kick for my madeleines.
After a stroll through a bunch of chai posts, I discovered that “chai” is the Hindi word for tea. The spiced tea that Americans (and perhaps others) call chai is really masala chai. And just like Jewish mothers and grandmothers all have their own version of chicken soup or kugel, our Indian counterparts each have their own special masala.
My madeleines and the masala they contain are inspired by a host of bakers and masala-makers before me. For the madeleines, I looked to Rose Levy Berenbaum’s Chocolate Sweetheart Madeleines in the Baking Bible, Ruth Reichl’s lemon-flavored madeleines from The Gourmet Cookbook, and the Dorie Greenspan madeleines that I adapted into a gingery version. My masala is inspired by those from the Hathi Cooks, Epicurious, and Bron Marshall.
FAQs – Masala Chai Tea Madeleines
- How much masala (spice mix) to make? The mix in my recipe below makes about 3 1/2 teaspoons, enough for two batches of madeleines or one batch and a few cups of tea to go with them. Keep any extra masala mix tightly covered in a cool, dry place. I’m thinking about making 2 or 3 batches, storing them for madeleines or tea whenever the mood strikes.
- Why and how long do you have to refrigerate the batter? Refrigerating the batter helps create the “hump” on the madeleines. Although Dorie Greenspan suggests that the minimum refrigeration time is several hours (and I repeated that advice in my ginger madeleine post), I refrigerated this batter for only one hour and still got nice humps on these madeleines.
- Do I really need Assam or Darjeeling tea? Any strong black tea should work. Avoid tea with its own special flavoring, such as one that is lemon, bergamot (Earl Grey) or ginger-scented.
- I don’t have (or don’t like) one or two of the spices in your masala mixture. Can I leave it/them out? Sure. Just keep it strong enough to shine once it is incorporated into the madeleines. (Baking tends to dampen the spices’ intensity.) This mixture has both dominant notes (ginger and cinnamon) and a variety undertones, with a slightly peppery finish. Definitely an exotic aroma and taste.
Masala Chai Tea Madeleines
Aromatic and delicious madeleines infused with tea and spices.
Masala Chai Tea Spice Blend
- 2 wings star anise, pulverized in spice grinder or with mortar and pestle
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves about 1 large pinch
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 8 tablespoons butter, melted plus more for buttering the madeleine molds (1 stick) I made one batch with 5 tablespoons (instead of 8) which resulted in a crispier exterior. My husband liked them better.
- 2 tablespoons Darjeeling or Assam (black) tea
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for the madeleine molds
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda about 1 large pinch
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt about 1 large pinch
- 1 1/2 teaspoons masala chai spice blend
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1-2 tablespoons confectioners sugar optional
Butter the madeleine molds well, then flour them lightly and set aside.
Moisten the tea leaves with 2 tablespoons boiling water, stir, and add them to the hot, melted butter. Let the mixture steep and cool down for 15 minutes. Then use a strainer to press the tea leaves with the back of a spoon until all the of the buttery liquid is gathered in a bowl below the strainer. Discard the tea leaves and set aside the tea-infused butter.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the masala chai spice blend. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer or fork, beat the egg, sour cream, and sugar together until blended. Add the vanilla and blend for a few more minutes.
Add the flour/chai spice mixture to the egg, sour cream, sugar and vanilla and stir until just combined. Add the cooled butter in a stream, mixing until just combined. The batter will be thick.
Spoon the batter into the madeleine molds or pipe it into the molds with a pastry bag or a plastic bag with a hole cut in one edge. Fill the molds only about 2/3 full. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the batter for one hour. If you have some batter left over, refrigerate it separately in a covered bowl or plasticware.
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake the madeleines for 14 - 16 minutes, until they are lightly browned. Let the madeleines cool in the molds for 5 minutes, then unmold and continue cooling on a wire rack. If desired, once cooled, sprinkle them with confectioners sugar.
TEA Party (recipes featuring tea)
- Earl Grey Dinner Rolls by The Redhead Baker
- Tea Smoked Duck (Gluten Free) by The Heritage Cook
- Southern Sweet Tea Roasted Corn by Pastry Chef Online
- Vanilla Black Tea Rice Pilaf by All Roads Lead to the Kitchen
- Chai-infused Madeleines by Mother Would Know
- Glazed Lemon Tea Scones by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Strawberry Blueberry Hibiscus Crumble by The Wimpy Vegetarian
Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. Our menu this month features recipes that have one special ingredient in common – TEA! We had a lot of fun creating them, and hope you’ll enjoy trying them, too. Our event is hosted by Heather who blogs at All Roads Lead to the Kitchen. Our menu includes everything from beverages to bread, an entree to sides, and of course some desserts so we can finish on a sweet note.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.