By the time I decided to read more about madeleines, I’d already pulled my first batch from the oven and eaten two. That was a good thing. Reading about them in various articles and blog posts can be a little disheartening. Some say these can be difficult to bake and the little hump in the back sometimes won’t puff up… All this and you have to buy a specific (though beautiful) pan? I might have called the whole thing off.
This is a very simple batter and an easygoing cakey cookie. The first batch was successful. After 10 minutes, I peeked in the oven and could see the backsides of the madeleines had puffed up just like they should. After 12 minutes, I took them out of the oven and let them cool a minute or two before moving them to a cooling rack. The madeleines slid right out.
Bon Appetit’s recipe says the madeleines can go as long as 16 minutes, which is probably fine if you want browner cookies. Besides reducing the cooking time, I decided to use the zest of an entire lemon. Be mindful of not overmixing (as with most baking recipes).
These madeleines taste simply of vanilla, lemon, and butter. They are perfect as they are. But once you get this down, you can play around with the variations. Dip the ends in chocolate. Swap in orange zest for lemon zest. Add spices. Either way, they’re welcome on any table. Serve them at breakfast or in the afternoon. Share them at work or bring them to a party. Or keep them to yourself and your coffee.
My new favorite cookies, for sure. And the golden madeleine pan? I’m keeping that pretty one on display.
The only hiccup with making a batch of these happened when I was running a little behind and friends were showing up for brunch. Bluth banner, jorts, and all. The problem was that I was a little distracted and rushing myself, so I forgot to let the melted butter cool properly. The madeleines were a little too greasy going into the pan, and after 10 minutes the edges were browned and surrounded in bubbling foam. I thought they were ruined, but they were okay. Just more dense than usual, missing some of their puffiness.
Lesson learned. Don’t rush. Do things in advance. Sorry, I was distracted. We all were. (See below) Still, the Dutch babies were fantastic made fresh to order (those really puff up!) And we really needed that bacon. Sometimes brunch goes well into overtime, and you’ve gotta have more food than you thought you needed.
These classic French cookies are easy to make, and once you get the basic recipe down you can play around with variations. Swap in orange zest for lemon or dip the tops of the cookies in dark chocolate. But really, they’re perfectly good the way they are. Not too sweet and they taste simply of lemon, vanilla, and butter. You’ll want a second cup of coffee.
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 fresh vanilla bean
grated zest of 1 lemon
pinch of salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted better, melted and cooled
powdered sugar, optional
Heat oven to 375°F. Generously butter and madeleine pan. Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat eggs and sugar just until blended. Stir in vanilla (scrape out seeds of bean if using), lemon zest and salt. Add flour and beat just until blended. Gradually add cooled and melted butter in a steady stream, mixing just until blended.
Spoon 1 tablespoon batter into each indentation in pan. Bake until cookies are puffed and brown at the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool for a few minutes and gently remove cookies from pan. Depending on the size of your pan, you may do a second batch; make sure to butter and flour the pan again.
Cool for 5 minutes. Gently remove from pan. Depending on the size of your pan, you may want to repeat these steps with the rest of the batter; butter and flour the pan before each batch.
If you want to, dust cookies lightly with powdered sugar. Serve immediately with coffee or store in an airtight container for up to a day or two. They’re best the same day they’re made.
Makes about 16 cookies. Recipe (adapted just slightly) from Bon Appetit via epicurious.