Taking the Mystique out of French Madeleines

I love madeleines, these light yet buttery little cakes dissolve on the tongue, leaving behind just a hint of vanilla and sweetness. Countless others have waxed poetic about madeleines, including Proust’s famous sensory description of a Madeleine bite, and that may be why I remembered them as difficult to make.

Instead I fed my Madeleine craving every time I spied a little three-pack of Madeleines at Starbucks. Nothing goes better with a caramel latte. Trust me.

But last night I decided to revisit making these little vanilla cakes. Traditionalists will tell you that Madeleines should have a hint of lemon zest, but I don’t like that little tang. I much prefer the comforting flavors of butter and vanilla.

It turns out that I was wrong. Madeleines are incredibly easy to make. I had warm little cakes on the table for snack time with the kids before I could have made chocolate chip cookies. I made most with vanilla, but I also sprinkled a little coconut and a few chocolate chips in a handful, just to see how they would taste.

Big Surprise. They were all delicious.

If you don’t have a Madeleine mold, baking these in muffin tins that are half-filled will still have them tasting just as good.

Madeleines (Adapted from the Martha Stewart Cookbook)
Makes 3 dozen
4 eggs
3 generous pinches of salt
2/3 cups of sugar
3 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 stick of unsalted butter (1/4 cup), melted and not too hot
Optional: coconut flakes and mini chocolate chips


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Grease and flour a madeleine or little muffin pan thoroughly. I like to use that Wilton baking liquid.
  • In a stand mixer, beat the eggs, sugar and salt for 8 to 10 minutes. They should be thick and deep yellow with a slight froth.
  • Add the vanilla.
  • Fold in the flour gently with a rubber spatula.
  • Now fold in the butter, still gently, making sure none of it settles at the bottom.
  • Spoon into the pan, about 2/3 full in each hole.
  • Optional: sprinkle with some coconut flakes or chocolate chips now.
  • Bake for about 10 minutes, until golden brown.
  • Cool on drying rack. You can dust with confectioner’s sugar before serving. These are delicious hot or cold. Keeps in a tightly closed tuperware for a few days.



4 Responses to Taking the Mystique out of French Madeleines

  1. >Thank you for this! I have a mini Maedleine pan that I got for Christmas TWO years ago! But I've always been intimidated. I believe I will try it now 🙂

  2. >Love, love, love medeleines! I have a silicone pan that works great, use the recipe from Williams Sonoma for chocolate madeleines, they are delicious.

  3. >My daughter made them once for French class but couldn't find a madeline mold, so she used a santa one, because it was shallow enough. They were cute, but maybe not Madeline looking.

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