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Madeleines ~ Easy Recipe for a Taste of France

Madeleines ~ Easy Recipe for a Taste of France

Whether you call them cookies, cakes, or French pastry, madeleines are delicate sponge cakes resembling cookies in their pick-up-and-eat convenience. They are easy to make. Like all the other desserts I make, they are palm oil free.

Their shell-like shape comes from using a madeleine pan which will be either metal or silicone. Once you have the pan, they are pretty straightforward to make. This recipe uses 8 baking staples: flour, sugar, eggs, butter, pure vanilla extract, baking soda, salt, and powdered sugar (optional). To ensure they are palm oil free, always use pure vanilla extract rather than imitation.

Keep reading to learn how to make French madeleines, including best tips, variations using lemon or orange, ways to store them, and more. While the hands-on time is about 12 minutes, factor in time for the batter to chill for 30 – 60 minutes. The eggs also need to be at room temperature, and the butter should have time to cool after melting. 

Madeleines Recipe

I’ve learned to bake everything from scratch through the years. Homemade tastes so much better than store-bought. While most desserts at the store contain palm oil, I was pleasantly surprised to see one brand of madeleines in my grocery store bakery that was palm oil free. Still, I’d rather make them at home. 

homemade madeleines

Homemade madeleines

What Do You Need to Make Madeleines

The only special requirement is the madeleine pan. If you don’t have one, you can fill cupcake liners but know it will change the texture and appearance. Traditional madeleines have ridges like shells and are scallop-shaped. This recipe yields approximately 20 madeleines.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (or substitute one-to-one gluten free flour for gf option)
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ tsp of salt (omit if you are using salted butter)
  • Extra butter or vegetable oil to coat the wells
  • Optional: Powdered sugar for dusting before serving

Equipment

  • Madeleine pan, preferably non-stick (still grease the wells)
  • 2 mixing bowls
  • Bowl to melt butter or saucepan to melt it on stovetop
  • Whisk or electric mixer
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Spoon
  • Spatula
  • Pastry brush

How to Make Madeleines

  1. Melt butter and set aside. 
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the eggs and sugar. Whisk for at least 5 minutes; then add the pure vanilla extract.
  4. Gradually pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing gently by hand until just combined. Do not overmix.
  5. Gently incorporate the cooled, melted butter into the batter, mixing by hand.
  6. Cover the batter bowl and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes up to 60 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
  8. Melt up to 2 tablespoons of butter, and use a pastry brush to grease the wells, especially in the grooves. You can also use vegetable oil (such as avocado oil) or non-flavored non-stick cooking spray (don’t use olive oil because of the taste). Butter is best for its authentic taste.
  9. Taking care to not disturb the batter (don’t mix it after you take it out of the fridge), spoon just over a tablespoon of batter into the center of each well. You do not need to spread it… it will expand as it bakes.
  10. Place in preheated oven on the center rack for 10 – 12 minutes. When the edges are golden brown, take them out.
  11. Carefully turn the pan over so they are upside down. Leave them in the pan for a few minutes, then gently remove them. Place each on a wire cooling rack. 
  12. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar if desired, and serve as soon as you can. They are best served fresh!

Variations

You can change up the flavor and make madeleines with lemon or with orange. Or reserve some batter and make some “plain” and some with either or both citruses for an easy variations. If you want to make the entire batch lemon or orange flavored, add 2 teaspoons of lemon zest or 2 teaspoons of orange zest. 

madeleines recipe

Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving

Recipe Tips

  • Make sure the butter is cooled for 5 – 8 minutes before adding it to the batter. This will prevent curdling. Melt the butter first when starting this recipe.
  • Be sure to whisk the eggs for a minimum of 5 minutes. This will help create the famous madeleine texture.
  • Don’t overfill the madeleine pan wells. Fill them all the same amount to ensure even baking.
  • Baking time may be slightly longer if you bake two pans of madeleines at the same time.
  • The madeleines should cool slightly before gently removing them from the pan to prevent them from breaking.

Storing Madeleines

Everything about madeleines tastes better when fresh. I don’t recommend making the batter in advance and baking it later. If you need to, be sure to use it within 2 days. 

You can store madeleines in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. However, they will lose some of their original goodness and may become harder. 

Madeleines have a soft, cake-like interior and a bit of crisp on the outside. You’ll lose this when you freeze them. However, you can freeze them for up to 3 months. They will still taste good. Set them out at room temperature to thaw. Sprinkle a light dusting of powdered sugar before serving. Again, some of the consistency will change. 

What do madeleines look like inside

What madeleines look like inside: They have a cake texture and a crispy exterior

Serving Ideas

Madeleines are nice to put out with coffee or tea, on breakfast and brunch tables, and for dessert. They are ideal for parties such as engagement parties, bridal showers, and baby showers. Serve these delicious madeleines as a sweet treat with a cup of tea or coffee, or as a dessert with a dollop of homemade whipped cream and fresh berries.

FAQs

Why does madeleine batter need to rest?

It’s best to let the batter rest and chill in the fridge just like with making cookie dough. It will help the gluten in the flour to relax which means the finished product won’t be dense and chewy. Let it rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Experts recommend not waiting longer than an hour so the butter doesn’t solidify.

Why are my madeleines dry?

Next time you make them, don’t overmix the batter. Combine ingredients until they are just mixed. Another reason may be if they were in the oven too long. Overbaking will cause them to dry and harden. Lastly, be sure you used the correct ingredients in the correct amounts. 

madelines recipe

Easy madelines recipe

Why don’t my madeleines have a bump?

Madeleines are known for their characteristic bump (also called a hump or a belly) on one side. If your madeleines are not developing a bump, it may be you didn’t whisk the eggs long enough or you didn’t chill the batter before baking. It can also mean you overmixed the batter or didn’t fill the wells with enough batter. 

What is a madeleine pan?

A madeleine pan is a baking pan with indents, cavities, or wells which you fill with batter to form small cakes. They have a scalloped shell pattern on one side. The wells are usually more oval or rectangular in size but some pans have the shell pattern and are more of a circular shape.

Metal madeleine pans will usually have 12 cavities/wells. Silicone molds will usually have 9 wells.

Can I use a regular muffin pan instead of a madeleine pan?

You can use a muffin pan; however, it will change the shape and the texture of traditional madeleines. If you have a brownie pan with small wells, you can use that too.

Do I need a madeleine pan to make madeleines?

When making traditional madeleine cookies, it’s best to use a madeleine pan. These pans are specially designed to give the cookies their distinctive shell shape and help create the crispy exterior. If you don’t have one, you can use a regular muffin pan, but the shape and texture will be different.

Where do you buy a madeleine pan?

Also called a madeleine mold or madeleine wells, you can buy a madeleine pan at Target, Walmart, Amazon, Bed, Bath & Beyond, and other stores that sell bakeware. Metal madeleine pans usually have 12 wells (and sometimes 6 wells) while silicone molds will have less, usually 9, to make it more stable. Be sure to buy a non-stick pan which will make removing the madeleines easier.

Is it better to buy a metal madeleine pan or a silicone one?

There are pros and cons to each. Metal conducts heat better and helps the madeleines to become crispy on the outside.  The downsides are they are more difficult to remove, and the pans are harder to clean. Pros to using a silicone mold is that it’s non-stick. The baked madeleines should come out easily. It’s also easy to clean. The downside is the heat transfer may not be as even as with metal pans. 

holiday cookie tray

Holiday cookie tray with madeleines

How do you make gluten-free madeleines?

When you use a one-for-one gluten free flour, you can change any madeleine recipe into a gluten free one. I buy Bob’s Red Mill 1-for-1 Gluten Free Flour and have had great success baking these and other cakes and cookies. 

Can I add any flavors to madeleines?

You can try adding lemon zest, orange zest, cocoa powder, or other extracts such as almond, hazelnut, or anise to give them a unique flavor.

Do I need to grease the bottom of the madeline pan?

When making madeline cookies, it is important to grease the wells of the madeline pan to prevent the cookies from sticking. You can use butter or a non-stick cooking spray to grease the pan.

How do you remove madeleines from the pan? 

Like other baked items where there are grooves or intents, removing madeleines from the pan can be a bit tricky. Even if you use a non-stick pan, be sure to grease it before adding the batter. It will make removing them much easier.

Also, invert the pan once you take them out of the oven. Gravity will help loosen them. Let them cool for a few minutes this way, and then gently remove them from the pan. You may want to use a small offset spatula or frosting spreader to release them from the pan. Start at the edges and work inward. Take your time.

What are madeleine cookies made of?

Madeline cookies, also known as French madeleines, are made with sugar, butter, eggs, flour, vanilla extract, baking powder, and salt. You can sprinkle with confectioners sugar (powdered sugar) before serving if you choose. Store-bought varieties won’t typically have confectioners sugar on top.

Why are the cookies called madeleines?

The cookies are called Madeleines because they originated from the town of Commercy and Liverdun, in the Lorraine region of France. They were first made by a pastry chef named Madeleine Paulmier. French author, Marcel Proust, is known for bringing the madeleines to the world’s attention in his novel “In Search of Lost Time,” where he describes the madeleine dipped in tea evoking involuntary memories of his childhood. 

How long will madeleines keep?

Homemade madeleines will keep for a few days if stored properly. Store covered at room temperature. Do not put them in the fridge which will make them moist. You can freeze them in an airtight container or bag (squish the air out before sealing) for up to 3 months.

What are madeleines?

Also known as French madeleines, they are small, delicate sponge cakes with a unique shell-like shape. In the United States, they are often considered to be cookies, and popular on platters of holiday cookie assortments.

What do madeleines taste like?

Madeleines have a sweet and buttery flavor with a touch of vanilla but they are not overly sweet. They have a light, spongy texture that is similar to a cake but with a slightly crisp exterior. They are typically dusted with powdered sugar before serving. Some varieties will have a lemon, orange, almond, or hazelnut flavor.

How long will madeleines keep?

Homemade madeleines will keep for up to 3 days if covered and up to three months in the freezer.

What are madeleines served with?

Serve madeleines like you do other desserts. They pair well with coffee, tea, or milk. Serve for dessert or serve as part of a breakfast or brunch. Some people enjoy them with fresh fruit (berries, sliced oranges, etc.) which makes for a nice presentation on a brunch buffet. Some people prefer them with whipped cream or jam, jelly, or preserves. 

I usually serve them as dessert as is with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Should you keep madeleines in the fridge?

No, store them at room temperature to enjoy the crispiness madeleines are famous for. Moisture will change their texture if you put them in the fridge. They won’t be as crisp on the outside and may become more dense on the inside. 

How do you make madeleines crispy after freezing?

If you have a cooling rack, set the cooling rack on a baking pan, and place the madeleines on it so air can circulate around them. Set in your preheated oven at 350°F for a few minutes to help them crisp up. If you don’t have a cooling rack, you can put them on a baking pan, being sure to space them out.

Are madeleines French or Spanish?

Madeleines are considered to be a traditional French pastry. The name comes from the traditional shell-shaped mold, similar to a scallop shell. Other countries have similar pastries. In Spain, there are “Magdalenas” which are similar.

Are madeleines considered cookies?

While madeleines are sometimes referred to as cookies in English, they are more like mini cakes. They are made using a scallop-shaped mold with individual cavities for batter. Around Christmas and other winter holidays, many people bake them with their holiday cookie assortments. 

In the picture, madeleines are shown with thumbprint cookies, brownies, molasses cookies, and Mexican wedding cookies.

Homemade Madeleines

Thanks for checking out this recipe for madeleines. I first started learning to bake when I learned my son had a palm oil allergy and intolerance. He couldn’t eat any special treats or desserts that weren’t homemade. I now bake all the time and choose recipes that are easy. These madeleines use ingredients I usually have at home which makes them convenient to make.

Remember, a traditional madeleine pan isn’t necessary but the shell-shape is what makes them unique. The pan also helps them to become crispy on the outside. Mine was less than $20, and I’m glad I bought it because I make them more often because I have it.

Please check out my other dessert recipes and learn about choosing ingredients to make palm oil free desserts. I also have a post about finding palm oil free cookies at the store. 

If you make this recipe, please leave me a note in the comments and let me know how it went, why you made them, and if you served them for a special occasion. 

madeleines
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Madeleines

If you have a madeleine pan, you'll want to make these madeleines often. This is a simple recipe that makes these famous French pastries. Serve alone or around the holidays with other treats. Their buttery cake interior is surrounded by a crispy outer coating. These cookie-like cakes are divine!
Course Dessert
Keyword homemade madeleines, madeleines, madeleines ingredients, madeleines recipe, recipe for madeleines
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Batter chilling time 45 minutes
Servings 20 cookies

Equipment

  • Madeleine pan, preferably non-stick still grease the wells
  • 2 mixing bowls
  • Bowl to melt butter or saucepan to melt butter on stovetop
  • Whisk or electric mixer
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Spoon
  • Spatula
  • Pastry brush

Ingredients

  • ½ cup unsalted butter melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour or substitute one-to-one gluten free flour for gf option
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • teaspoon salt
  • ¼ tsp of salt omit if you are using salted butter
  • Extra butter or vegetable oil to coat the wells
  • Optional: Confectioners sugar for dusting before serving

Instructions

  • Set the eggs out a bit before making so they are room temperature.
  • Melt butter, and set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the eggs and sugar. Whisk for at least 5 minutes. Add the pure vanilla extract.
  • Slowly and gradually pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing gently by hand until just combined. Do not overmix, and don't use and electric mixer.
  • Gently incorporate the cooled, melted butter into the batter, mixing by hand with a spoon or whisk.
  • Cover the batter, and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes up to 60 minutes.
  • Toward the end of the chill time, preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
  • Melt up to 2 tablespoons of butter, and use a pastry brush to grease the wells, especially in the grooves. You can also use vegetable oil or avocado oil or non-flavored non-stick cooking spray (don't use olive oil because of the taste). Butter is best for its authentic flavor.
  • Remove batter from fridge. Don't mix it. Gently spoon an overflowing tablespoon of batter into the center of each well. You do not need to spread it... it will expand as it bakes.
  • Place in preheated oven on the center rack for 10 - 12 minutes. When the edges are golden brown, take them out.
  • Carefully invert the pan so it's upside down. Leave madeleines in the pan for a few minutes, then gently remove them. Place each on a wire cooling rack.
  • Before serving, sprinkle with confectioners sugar if desired. Serve as soon as possible as they are best served fresh!

Notes

  • The butter should be melted and left to cool for 5 - 8 minutes before adding it to the batter. 
  • Whisk the eggs and sugar together with a stand mixer (if you have) for 5 - 8 minutes for the best texture. 
  • Invert the pan once you take it out of the oven. Once they are slightly cooled, gently remove the madeleines from the pan and set them on a cooling rack.
  • Everything about madeleines tastes better when fresh. Serve the same day as you make them, if possible. 

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