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Vanilla Madeleines

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Madeleines are small sponge cakes with a distinctive shell-like shape. They’re baked in a specially shaped pan and there is something special about them that seems to put a smile on peoples’ faces when they see them. Traditionally, madeleines are made with a genoise batter, which is a type of cake where melted butter is folded in to a sponge cake batter just before baking in order to tenderize it and no leavening agents apart from beaten eggs are added. These very classic cakes are tasty, but I find that adding a small amount of baking powder lightens the cookies up a bit and makes them a little bit more consistent.

My Vanilla Madeleines are light, tender and golden, with a soft and slightly spongy texture to them. I flavored them with a generous splash of vanilla extract, and will sometimes use vanilla sugar (when I have some on hand) to further boost the vanilla flavor. The vanilla blends well with the buttery sponge cake, and also helps the madeleines go well with coffee and tea. I recommend using metal pans, as opposed to silicone, for the best results.

Madeleines keep very well when stored in an airtight container, as their flavor only seems to improve over the course of a few days following baking. They are best when served with coffee or tea, and their spongey texture makes them perfect for soaking up a bit of the liquid when dipped. You can also dip a corner of each cookie in chocolate to dress them up a bit, though you can’t go wrong when serving them plain, either.


Vanilla Madeleines
2 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar*
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
8 tbsp butter, melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease and flour your madeleine pans (unless you are using nonstick, in which case light greasing is all that is necessary).
In a large bowl, beat together eggs and sugar until smooth and thick, 1-2 minutes. Add in vanilla and salt. Sift flour and baking powder into the bowl and mix until it is just combined, and no streaks of flour remain visible.
Slowly add in the melted butter, streaming it in while you stir constantly (or mix at a low speed) and it is well combined.
Place a generous 1 tbsp batter into each cavity of your prepared pan.
Bake for 12-14 minutes, until cookies are golden around the edges.
Allow to cool for 3-5 minutes before removing from the pan. The pan should be cooled, regreased and floured before filling it with more batter (it is ok if the batter must be used in batches) for another batch.

Makes about 2 dozen.

*For extra vanilla flavor, make these with homemade vanilla sugar!

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  • Dani
    April 21, 2012

    what little beauties 🙂

  • Jessica
    April 21, 2012

    Sounds tasty! What tea or coffee do you usually drink with these sponge cakes? What would compliment the vanilla?

  • Stephanie
    April 23, 2012

    Love these little delicacies! Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • melissa
    April 24, 2012

    I bought a silicone madeleine pan on impulse buy a few months ago, and it’s turned me into a total madeleine fiend! I’ve been making variations on David Liebovitz’s basic recipe nearly every weekend since. So far I’ve done lemon, chocolate chip, maraschino cherry, and orange + Chinese 5 spice. My next to try is matcha powder.

    I HIGHLY recommend the silicone ans as you don’t need to grease or freeze them at all, and you can make one batch straight after another, which is highly convenient. And I prefer mine on the day they’re made, when they still have the slightly crunchy outer crust. Yum!

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