There’s a reason why the recipe for these two-bite cakelettes has endured for over two hundred years. Madeleines are sweet and moist with crisp, golden edges. The classic flavor has a hint of lemon and vanilla. Perfect to dunk in tea or coffee, small enough to eat several in a sitting without feeling guilty – they’re my newest favorite thing to bake.
There are two stories for who first created the Madeleine. Some say, “madeleines may have been named for a 19th-century pastry cook, Madeleine Paulmier, but other sources have it that Madeleine Paulmier was a cook in the 18th century for Stanisław Leszczyński, whose son-in-law, Louis XV of France, named them for her.” (Straight from Wikipedia, folks.) Whatever the source, they are always baked in seashell shaped tins.
There are about as many recipes for madeleines these days as there are pastry chefs and home bakers. Some recipes are savory, and include ingredients such as cornmeal, cheese, pesto, chili peppers, bacon bits, caramelized onions, dill, and rosemary.
The sweet ones can be plain, or dipped in chocolate and rolled in nuts or smeared with jam. The wide range of flavorings includes bourbon, chai tea, Kahlua, mint, banana, orange, cinnamon, almond, and rosewater.
This recipe is perfection. Because the zucchinis are now proliferating faster than we can eat them, I added some shredded zucchini to half of the batter. Those turned out fabulous, too, just not quite as light and crisp. (I squeezed excess moisture out of zucchini before adding.)
Madeleines. Makes approximately 24.
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- Pinch of salt
- ½ cup flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- 6 -½ tablespoons melted butter, cooled to room temperature
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Lemon zest, about ½ teaspoon
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
Special equipment needed:
- Madeleine pan
- Small ice cream scoop (you can also use a teaspoon)
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Whisk in the sugar. In a separate bowl, stir together the salt, flour and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and whisk until smooth. Stir the honey into the melted butter. Whisk the butter-honey mixture, vanilla and lemon zest into the batter until smooth. Refrigerate batter for two hours or for as long as overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously coat Madeleine pan with non-stick cooking spray. Using a small scoop or teaspoon, fill Madeleine cups ¾ full. (See pictures.) Bake for 6 minutes, or until no shiny spots remain in centers.
Let Madeleines cool in the pan for a couple of minutes. (Cooling the cakes in their pans for a few minutes helps form the scalloped impressions.) Remove cakelettes from the pans and continue cooling on a wire rack. If you only have one madeleine pan, repeat the process to bake the remaining batter.
Dust with powdered sugar if desired. Any uneaten Madeleines can be frozen.
Because these little things must enter my realm of gnoshing!