My elementary school art teacher used to repeatedly tell our class, “There are no mistakes in art.” She would brush away complaints of “messing up” or “needing to start over” by telling us that every unintentional stroke was an opportunity to innovate.
Last weekend, I found myself with a batch of green tea madeleines that did not turn out the way I expected them to. While they tasted delicious (recipe courtesy of Just One Cookbook), the mini cakes refused to release themselves from the warmth of their moulds and left behind a generous chunk of matcha goodness.
As I stood in the kitchen unsure of what to do with two dozen crater-like lumps, my art teacher’s mantra suddenly came to mind–there are no mistakes in art. And I guess to me, baking is an art.
Anyone who has baked before probably has a plethora of stories of when his or her product deviated from the recipe picture. (Or perhaps it’s just me!) Nonetheless, these experiences have motivated me to find ways to mask aesthetically ruined desserts into something I can describe as a classic recipe with a “unique twist.”
One of my favorite methods is the trifle method–to turn the baked good into the cake layer of a trifle. My friends have probably realized by this point that when I show up with a trifle, something probably went wrong along the way…
In order to successfully execute the trifle method, a box of instant pudding should always be on call in the case of a baking emergency. Once the pudding is made, the rest of the process is pretty simple–add cake, layer pudding, sprinkle complementary flavor additions, and repeat!
To complete the green tea madeleines (or what were supposed to be madeleines), I found vanilla pudding, coconut milk, soy milk, red bean paste, and coconut flakes. The pudding solidified with the coconut milk and soy milk helped moisten the madeleine layer of the trifle. I scattered the red bean paste, layered the pudding, and topped it off with coconut flakes and some lucky, in-tact madeleines. A mistake or a mere trifle? I will let you decide.
Green Tea Madeleines (yields 24 madeleines):
1/2 cup unsalted butter and 1 Tbsp for the moulds
⅔ cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp matcha powder
2 large eggs (at room temperature)
1 Tbsp milk
1 box Jell‑O instant vanilla pudding
1 can of coconut milk
1 can red bean paste
1/2 cup soy milk
1/4 cup shredded coconut flakes (optional)
- Melt the butter in the microwave for 30-45 seconds. Once melted completely, transfer to a small bowl and let it cool.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and matcha powder.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and the milk and gradually add in the sugar until frothy and the eggs have lightened in color.
- Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture. Using a rubber spatula, stir until just combined.
- Slowly add in the melted butter and stir until well combined.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate to rest the batter for 3 hours, or if you have the time, overnight.
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in microwave. Using a pastry brush, brush butter in the molds of two 12 full-size shell-shaped madeleine pans.
- Remove the batter from the refrigerator and fill each mold in the madeleine pan with 1 Tbsp. of the batter. No need to smooth out the batter as it will melt to fill the moulds in the oven.
- Bake for 11-13 minutes, or until the madeleines’ edges looks done and the tops spring back when touched.
- Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 3 minutes. Using a fork, gently release the madeleines from the molds and transfer them onto a cooling rack.
- Whisk together 1 can of coconut milk and 1 box of pudding mix until the pudding thickens. Place in the refrigerator to cool.
- Cut the madeleines into half-inch cubes and layer on the bottom of a deep dish.
- Pour half of the soy milk over the madeleines to moisten.
- Scoop spoonfuls of red bean paste to layer on top of the madeleines.
- Layer pudding mix on top and continue the layers of madeleines, soy milk, red bean paste, and pudding until you run out of ingredients. The top layer should be a pudding layer.
- Sprinkle with coconut flakes and decorate with any in-tact madeleines you have. Enjoy!