By Sarah Walter
Updated Dec 11, 2014 @ 1:31 pm
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Dominique Ansel
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Our first installment of 12 Days of Cookies, where we highlight some of our favorite cookie recipes for the holiday season, kicks off with a confection native to France. Who better to tap than chef Dominique Ansel, the French-born pastry sensation, who recently revealed the recipe for his mini madeleines.

Among the food trends to have gotten their start in New York City, cupcakes and avocado toast among them, Dominique Ansel’s cronut may be the buzziest. The James Beard Award-winning pastry chef opened the doors to his Soho bakery in November 2011, churning out much hyped-about hybrid pastry concoctions that regularly command lines around the block. Ansel readily divulges several of his sought after and oft copied recipes in his long-awaited debut cookbook, Dominique Ansel: The Secret Recipes.

As with his approach to food, Ansel’s cookbook is anything but conventional. The chef intersperses his experience from his early days as a chef with lessons that apply to food as much as they do to life. On his Frozen S’more, “I look at a s’more and see not just how it’s made but how it could be made. Experience and expertise help us transform from appreciators to creators who see endless possibility.” Want to seriously impress guests? Try your hand at Ansel's beginner-level recipe for the Mini Madeleines.

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Ingredients:8 tbsp unsalted butter (84 percent butterfat)1 tbsp dark brown sugar2 tsp honey1/2 cup granulated sugar1/2 tsp kosher salt1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted1/2 tsp baking powder3 whole eggs (large), at room temperatureZest from 1/2 lemonZest from 1/2 orangeNonstick cooking spray as neededConfectioners' sugar (for serving) as needed

Day-Before Directions (for Batter):1. Melt the butter, brown sugar, and honey in a medium pot over low heat. Stir gently with a heatproof spatula to ensure that nothing burns. Keep the mixture warm over very low heat, or reheat if necessary.2. Combine the granulated sugar, salt, flour, and baking powder in a large bowl and mix well with a whisk. Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the eggs one by one, whisking to incorporate each before adding the next.3. When the eggs are fully incorporated and the batter is smooth, slowly whisk in the butter mixture. Whisk in the lemon and orange zests. The batter will still be runny and similar in consistency to cake batter. Cover with plastic wrap pressed directly onto the surface of the batter, to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate overnight to rest.

Day-of Directions (Pipe, Bake and Serve):1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F for conventional or 350°F for convection.2. Using a rubber spatula, place 2 large scoops of batter in a piping bag so that it is one-third full. Push the batter down toward the tip of the bag.3. Cut an opening about 1/2 inch straight across the tip of the bag.4. Hold the nonstick cooking spray about 4 inches away from a nonstick mini madeleine pan and spray evenly in all the cavities.5. Holding the piping bag at a 90-degree angle about 1/2 inch above the pan, pipe the madeleine batter into the cavities so that it fills each about three-quarters of the way to the top.6. Bake the madeleines for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes on the center rack. When you see the batter puff up in the center, rotate the pan 180°F. Bake for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes more, until the sides of the madeleines are golden blond and the center has set.7. Unmold immediately. Bang the corner or sides of the madeleine pan against your work surface so that the fresh madeleines drop out.

To Serve:Using a small sieve, sprinkle confectioners' sugar evenly over the fresh-baked madeleines. Eat immediately (do not wait more than even a few minutes!).

To Store:Madeleines are good only when freshly baked. Do not attempt to store them. However, you can keep the batter in a closed airtight container, with plastic wrap pressed onto the surface, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.