Yield: Yields 12 large or more than 36 mini madeleines
This is not your typical madeleine, nor Proust’s either. Although it’s based on the classic (see the variation below), it’s my own invention, created to be served over the holidays, when spices like ginger, cinnamon, and cloves are most appreciated in both France and America. Like traditional madeleines, these are baked in shell-shaped molds and require a light hand when folding in the flour and butter. And they can be prepared ahead, even spooned into the molds, and baked à la minute, so that you can serve the little cakes warm.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, spices, salt, and pepper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl, rub the sugar and orange zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Fit the stand mixer with the whisk attachment or use a hand mixer or a whisk; add the eggs to the bowl and beat until the mixture is light colored, fluffy, and thickened, about 2 minutes. Beat in the honey, then the vanilla. Switch to a rubber spatula and very gently fold in the dry ingredients, followed by the melted butter.
You can use the batter now, but it’s better if you give it a little rest. Or, for real convenience, you can spoon the batter into buttered-and-floured madeleine molds, cover, and chill, then bake the cookies directly from the fridge. (See below for instructions on prepping the pans.) Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the batter and refrigerate it for at least 3 hours, or overnight.
When you’re ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Butter 12 regular madeleine molds (or 36 mini-molds), dust them with flour, and tap out the excess. (If you have a nonstick madeleine mold, butter and flour it or give it a light coating of vegetable cooking spray. If your pan is silicone, you can leave it as is or, just to be sure, give it a light butter-and flour coating.) Place the pan on a baking sheet and spoon the batter into the molds, filling each one to the top.
Bake large madeleines for 11 to 13 minutes and minis for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are golden and the tops spring back when prodded gently. Remove the pan from the oven and release the madeleines from the molds by rapping the edge of the pan against the counter. Gently pry any recalcitrant madeleines from the pan using your fingers or a butter knife. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to just warm or room temperature.
Just before serving, dust with confectioners’ sugar.
Make Ahead Tips
Madeleines are really best served just warm or at room temperature the day they are made. Leftovers should be kept in a closely covered container. If you’ve had them long enough for them to have gone stale, dunk them in whatever you’re drinking.
Classic Madeleines: These are the madeleines you find in just about every pastry shop throughout France. To make 12 large or 36 mini madeleines, whisk together 2/3 cup all-purpose flour, 3/4 tsp. baking powder, and a pinch of salt. Put 1/2 cup sugar and the finely grated zest of 1 lemon in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl and use your fingers to rub them together until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add 2 eggs to the bowl and beat, using the whisk attachment or a hand mixer, for 2 minutes, until the batter is light colored, fluffy, and thick. Beat in 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract, then, using a rubber spatula, fold in the dry ingredients followed by 6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) melted unsalted butter. From here, follow the directions above.
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Lovely recipe. Fun to try a madeleine flavor apart from the ubiquitous lemon/orange blossom water. I completely omitted the baking powder because I was afraid I'd be able to taste it in the final product (I'd never used baking powder in a madeleine recipe before anyway), and they still produced that beautiful hump. I also browned the butter instead of just melting it because I looooove brown butter! I'll be making these again.
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