Okay, yeah, Beijing isn't known for it's Sichuan food but as China's capital city, access to different regional cuisines is pretty widely available and DEFINITELY more widely available than in Seoul where Chinese food is pretty heavily Koreanized. There are plenty of foreign food marts in my neighborhood but they mostly stock, American, European or Halal goods. We certainly didn't expect it to be so hard to find ingredients from other Asian cuisines in Seoul, so while we were in Beijing we hit up a supermarket to bring back some spices missing from our pantry. One of the things we were really excited to get our hands on was Sichuan peppercorns, we ended up with Ma Jiao, which is the green variety (and very conveniently were labeled "Ma Jiao" in English on the bag, though we could clearly tell by the smell we had found the right spice). The general consensus seems to be that the green peppercorns are a little more citrus-y, piney and mild in flavor than the red ones but they still have that tongue numbing punch.
Infused into fat and mixed with flour, you won't quite get the same tongue tingle as if you're eating ma pa tofu with these cookies, but the unique flavor of Sichuan cuisine still comes through quite strong. Since there isn't much heat spice to the Ma Jiao, I finished these madeleines with cayenne sugar to add a little heat and get the full of Sichuan effect. Also, don't tell any friends you're trying to wow, but as impressive as these sound, they're actually pretty easy to make.
- 1 teaspoon Ma Jiao (aka green sichuan peppercorn, you could also substitute sansho peppercorns or the spicier red sichuan peppercorns)
- 1 Dried Red Pepper (small, medium heat)
- 6 oz (1.5 sticks) Unsalted Butter
- 2 Eggs
- 2/3 cup Sugar
- 1 cups All Purpose Flour
- pinch of salt
- extra butter for the madeleine pan
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- Melt butter. Gently crack open the peppercorns with the flat side of a knife. Slice the small dried pepper. Mix the pepper and peppercorns into the butter and let infuse 24-48 hours (I did a few hours at room temperature and then covered and moved it into the fridge)
- Preheat your oven to 375. Remelt your infused butter, strain and set aside to cool slightly.
- Using a handheld or stand mixer with the whisk attachment, mix eggs and sugar just until combined. Add in flour and salt and mix again until just combined. Slowly stream in butter with mixer on low speed until completely incorporated.
- Melt another 2 ounces (half a stick) of butter. Generously brush each mold in your madeleine pan with melted butter. If using a large madeleine pan, fill each mold with a heaping tablespoon of batter and pop the tray in the oven. Bake for eleven minutes or just until they spring back from touch and are a very light golden brown.
- While the madeleines are baking, whisk together sugar and cayenne pepper.
- Remove the madeleines from the oven and let them cool in the tray on a rack for two minutes. Gently de-pan the cookies (I used a combo of a small offset spatula and my hands) and roll in the bowl of spicy sugar.
- Repeat steps 4 and 6 (unless you're fancier than me and have two 12 mold madeleine pans and already baked them all at once)
- Madeleines have a pretty short shelf life so serve warm or let cool on a rack before storing them in an airtight container for up to 24 hours.