French Friday, Madeleine Cookies

I have been thinking a lot about the passage of time as my son, my eldest, turned eight this week. What better way to celebrate memories than with a madeleine?

Home made madeleines

A staple in French cuisine, madeleine cookies are delicious and relatively easy to make. You will need a special pan to give the batter their typical shell shape. I got two pans, because it is more practical and my recipe calls for two anyway.

Madeleine pans

For those of you not familiar with French literature, Marcel Proust wrote about a madeleine cookie in A La Recherche du Temps Perdu.

Madeleines cooling on rack

Cooling on rack

As he tasted the cookie, it reminded him of things in his past – which is why the Merriam Webster gives you a second definition of madeleine as “one that evokes a memory.” 

I made madeleine cookies using this recipe. If you want to follow it, here are my tips:

  1. Use non-stick spray oil. I brushed canola oil on the cavities instead. My madeleines did not stick, but they did not come out by shaking the pans either. I had to use a spatula to gently unstick them from the sides.
  2. You might want to lower the temperature to 375F and keep them in there for 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven. They recommend 400F. If your oven is fast, you will burn the madeleines on the outside and have some undone in the middle.
  3. Melting and cooling the butter should be your first step, even before you pre-heat the oven. Critical path. Just sayin’.
  4. To fold the lemon zest, use a concave spatula. It mixes better, but still gently.
  5. Don’t pour madeleine batter into the cavities as they recommend in the recipe unless you are 150% coordinated. It’s very messy and you have to be extremely precise and ready to catch the drips with a spatula in your other hand. Instead, use a spoon or your concave spatula from tip #4 above.
  6. Dust some powder (confectioners’) sugar over them. They are good without it, too, but even better with it.

Just for fun, here’s Martha Stewart’s recipe. I am giving you options. Everybody loves options.

You can add all sorts of flavors to your madeleines. I will say that if you follow the recipe to the teeth, you should have a lot of success with it.


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