Madeleine cookies: A delicate French pastry that’s part cookie, part cake, and so buttery-delicious! Perfect with tea, coffee, or cocoa.
Today I’m bringing you one of my all-time favorite pastries: madeleine cookies!
If you’ve been following along here for very long, you know that to me, one of life’s best pleasures is to nibble on something sweet and buttery while sipping a special drink. I just love to cozy up with a cup of tea and a plate of biscotti, a slice of toasted brioche and jam, or an Irish scone.
But when I want something truly special, nothing can compare to this madeleine cookie recipe.
I love it for its rich, buttery flavor, with just a hint of sweetness, for its light & soft texture, but most of all for the beautiful shell shape that is so iconic. It creates edges that are golden brown and crisp, and middles that are puffy and soft like cake.
They truly are a treat to eat, and they make a lovely hostess gift or party favor as well.
WHAT ARE MADELEINE COOKIES?
Madeleines are a classic French pastry, baked in a pretty shell shape. They are sort of a cross between a cookie and a cake. They’re bite-sized finger food, like a cookie, but the texture is more like cake.
The taste is very delicate and buttery, not overly sugary, but fragrant with sweet vanilla.
The recipe is very similar to genoise, which is a light sponge cake with melted butter folded in. Genoise is a main component of my tiramisu cake.
They are also very much like ladyfingers, but with ladyfingers, you separate the eggs and fold whipped egg whites into the batter. Ladyfingers also don’t have any butter in them.
HOW TO MAKE MADELEINE COOKIES
This recipe has just 6 ingredients, and all of them are pantry staples that you probably already have on hand.
When you are making a recipe with that few ingredients, the technique becomes even more important! Carefully follow all of these steps and you will have a perfect result!
Start by placing the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
This madeleine recipe calls for vanilla extract, but if you happen to have a vanilla bean or vanilla bean paste in your cupboard, I highly recommend using that! Here is a link to the vanilla beans I keep on hand for just this type of recipe: vanilla beans. You will have to split one lengthwise and scrape out the gooey insides with the blade of a sharp knife.
Vanilla bean paste is a great option too, and a little more no-muss no-fuss. Here’s a link: vanilla bean paste.
Whip everything together on high speed until very pale and fluffy. It should double in volume, from all the air you’ve whipped in. This takes a minimum of 5 full minutes. I usually like to give it 7 or 8 just to be extra sure.
Now you’re going to sift in about 1/3 of the flour.
Fold it in very gently. You don’t want to knock out all that air you incorporated!
Once the flour is blended in, add about 1/3 of the melted butter.
Again, fold carefully! But make sure you get it completely incorporated. The melted butter likes to sink down and pool at the bottom of the bowl, so really get your spatula all the way down there.
Repeat this process of sifting in flour, folding, then adding melted butter and folding, two more times, until all the flour and butter have been worked in.
Then the batter needs to be chilled. Place it in the fridge for a minimum of one hour.
Once it’s had a chance to rest and stiffen up, preheat the oven and prepare the madeleine pan.
I would definitely recommend a nonstick pan because madeleine cookies can be real buggers when it comes to sticking. Even with a nonstick pan, I still grease it well and dust it with flour. Here is a link to buy a standard-sized madeleine pan, like the one you see me using in the video below: nonstick madeleine pan.
Scoop 1 1/2 tablespoons of batter into each well of the pan, and bake the madeleine cookies until they are golden around the edges and but springy in the middles.
You will notice that as they bake, they form a distinctive hump on the back.
This is a good thing! You know you’ve done it right when you see that signature bump on the bottom.
This last step is optional, but I just love to garnish my madeleine cookies with a light dusting of powdered sugar. It makes them so pretty and it’s so easy to do.
You could also dip them in chocolate like I did with these Earl Grey madeleine cookies way back in 2013.
WHAT TO SERVE THEM WITH
Madeleine cookies are the perfect thing to serve at a fancy party. If you’re hosting a Mother’s Day brunch, or a baby or bridal shower, or even an afternoon wedding, these would make a perfect post-meal nibble with coffee.
I also like to place a few in a cellophane bag tied with pretty ribbon, and give them as gifts or party favors.
But you don’t have to wait for a special occasion to make this madeleine cookie recipe. Nothing will make you feel more special than baking up a batch just for yourself. And don’t we all need something like that right about now?
ARE THEY HEALTHY?
I will let you be the judge by providing nutritional info in the recipe card below, but I will touch on a few tips for making allergen-free madeleines here.
For gluten-free madeleine cookies, look for a gluten-free flour blend that subs 1:1 for regular flour.
For dairy-free madeleines, use a dairy-free butter product that subs 1:1 for regular butter.
And I am truly stumped for a way to make these without eggs. If you can suggest an egg substitute that will whip up as airy as regular eggs, I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below!
THE MADELEINE PAN
Madeleine pans typically come in 2 sizes: standard and mini. But lately, I’ve been seeing them in some unusual shapes as well, such as spheres, hearts, and even cat paws!
If you are using a mini madeleine pan, or any of these unique shapes, you may have to adjust the bake time slightly.
Obviously, I’ve used a standard-sized, traditionally shell-shaped madeleine pan for the pastries you see pictured here. Here is a link, if you’d like to purchase one: madeleine pan.
And if you don’t have a madeleine pan, and prefer not to buy one, try using a mini-muffin pan instead.
HOW TO STORE THEM
Madeleine cookies keep very well, so they definitely make a great make-ahead treat.
Place them carefully in a container, stacked with parchment paper in between so they don’t stick together. Then cover the container loosely with plastic wrap or foil.
I like to let a little air flow over the madeleines. If you seal them up completely airtight, they tend to become sticky and the edges lose their crispness.
They should keep this way for around 5 to 7 days, but you can prolong their life by another week or so by stashing them in the fridge.
Madeleine cookies can also be frozen. Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet to start, then once they’re frozen solid they can be transferred to a zip-top bag. This way they won’t stick together!
They should thaw in just a few minutes at room temp, but you can speed that up by nuking them for around 10 seconds, or placing them in a 170 degree (F) oven for a few minutes.
A FEW MORE OF MY FAVORITE CLASSIC FRENCH RECIPES:
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Madeleine cookies: A delicate French pastry that's part cookie, part cake, and so buttery-delicious! Perfect with tea, coffee, or cocoa.
Place the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and salt in a large mixing bowl and whip on high speed until doubled in volume and very pale in color (approx. 5 to 7 minutes).
Sift in 1/3 of the flour, then gently fold until combined.
Fold in 1/3 of the butter gently, until combined.
Repeat the previous 2 steps until all the flour and butter are incorporated.
Chill the batter for 1 hour to overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, grease a madeleine pan, and dust it with flour, tapping out any excess.
Scoop 1.5 tablespoons of batter into each well of the pan.
Bake until puffed and golden brown around the edges and springy to the touch (approx. 10 to 12 minutes).
Transfer to a wire rack to cool, and dust with powdered sugar to garnish.
Click here for a chocolate version: Chocolate Raspberry Madeleines.