One of the simplest joys in the world, as well as one of one of life's most overused platitudes, is when something turns out to be so much more than the sum of its parts.
Here we have a recipe in which two of its elements can be described as such. The madeleine itself is an act of sheer baking voodoo. Butter, honey, sugar, flour and eggs, whilst all delicious, should never be expected to produce such alchemy and transformation as you see when you bake them into these tiny little clouds of pure ephemeral joy. And then the caramel blood oranges: a simple caramel poured over slices of peeled blood orange - a sticky mess is what you'd expect. But what you get is a slice of orange imbued with a transcendental depth of flavour...platitudes are not enough, you'll simply have to try it.
270g unsalted butter, plus extra to grease
4 tbsp honey
Zest and juice of 2 blood oranges
50g light brown sugar
200g caster sugar
270g plain flour
1 tbsp icing sugar, to dust
4 blood oranges
200g caster sugar
Start by melting the butter and honey with the zest and juice of the oranges over a medium heat. Once completely melted and combined, put to one side to cool.
Use an electric whisk to beat the eggs, light brown and caster sugars until they have least doubled in size, before gently folding in the flour, and finally the cooled butter and honey mix. Once completely incorporated, place the mix in the fridge for at least 3 hours and up to 48 hours.
Whilst you wait for your madeleine mix, prepare the caramel oranges. Start by peeling your blood oranges before slicing them into 1cm rounds. Lay the rounds on a lined baking tray and put to one side while you make your caramel.
Take a heavy bottomed saucepan and place over a medium heat. Add the sugar and water and do not, under any circumstances, stir. Gently swirl the pan over the heat and watch carefully as the sugar melts and starts to caramelise. You want to keep the sugar going until you have reached a nice dark caramel. At this point, whilst being incredibly careful, pour the caramel over the oranges. It will bubble and spit a little, but don't let this alarm you. The caramel will initially set over the oranges in a solid layer, but leave it for up to an hour or two, and the juices of the orange will have got to work and you will have a delightful caramel blood orange sauce.
When you're ready to eat, preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4 and grease a madeleine tray or shallow muffin tray with melted butter and dust with a little icing sugar. Place a tablespoon of the madeleine mix in each hole before placing into the oven for 8-10 minutes until golden brown and risen slightly.
Meanwhile, sweeten some mascarpone with a little icing sugar. As the madeleines are coming out of the oven, place a liberal dollop of your sweetened mascarpone on a plate, nestle some of your caramel blood oranges around the side, spoon over the orange caramel sauce and serve with your fresh-from-the-oven madeleines.