Madeleines are one of those baked goods that require a specialty pan to get them right, because even though you can bake the batter in mini muffin tins, you just can’t capture the spirit of a madeleine (the cake that writers wax so poetic about) in any other form. Madeline pans can carry a wide range of price tags and can be made out of a wide range of materials. The price tag of expensive imported pans that promised the only good results kept me from biting the bullet and buying madeleine pans for a long time, but I had heard good things about the Chicago Metallic Nonstick Madeline Pan – and had had good results with their other bakeware – and bought some to give them a try.
The pans are lightweight and made of carbon steel, brushed with a nonstick coating. My madeleines baked very evenly and rose up well, developing that slight “dome” on the top that is a signature of many madeleines. The pan comes with a recipe that is easy to use and quite tasty (although they’re usually even better the day after baking) if you don’t have a favorite madeleine recipe already.
Working with the pans, I found that they allowed the tips of the madeleines to caramelize slightly and turn a lovely golden color, while still giving me a clean release. You get an even better look by brushing the cavities with a little bit of melted butter just before baking. The only downside to these pans is that they only bake a dozen madeleines at a time and most recipes bake more cakes. Fortunately (thanks to the nonstick coating), you can pop the madeleines out and the pans will cool down very quickly so that you can bake a second batch. Their price tag is also reasonable enough that if you are a big fan of madeleines you can justify adding a second one to your collection.