Want to make perfect French Madeleines? This recipe has browned butter and a hint of fresh lemon zest. These little gems have an addictive flavor.
In thinking about a post for Classic French Madeleines, I had to decide if I should start with that oft-referenced story by Proust, Remembrance of Things Past (aka In Search of Lost Time) .
You know the story, one bite of a madeleine instantly transports the narrator to his childhood with a flood of memories. Even without reading the story I can appreciate how perfectly Proust illustrates that food is much more than mere sustenance.
We all have memories deeply tied to the flavors of our childhood. For sure, food is much more than a way to fill the belly. Food is culture, food is love and food is the stuff of childhood memories.
So, now that I got the literary reference out of the way, lets talk about the recipe.
It’s a pretty straightforward recipe that is made with ingredients you likely already have on hand. For my version I started by making brown butter. The zest and juice from a fresh lemon brightens the flavor.
Yes, you really should use a real madeleine pan to make the iconic shell shape.
- Unsalted butter – I browned the butter for a hint of nutty flavor in the cookie.
- Vanilla extract – For flavor
- Lemon – Both lemon zest and juice add another layer of flavor to these classic madeleines.
- Salt – For flavor
- Eggs – Since madeleines are really more of a tiny sponge cake than a cookie, the eggs are important for the structure and texture of a proper madeleine.
- Granulated sugar – For sweetness and moisture.
- All purpose flour – Has enough protein to give these little cookies the proper structure. Madeleines need enough structure to rise and form the iconic hump at the top of the cookie.
How to make French Madeleines:
- Brown the butter in a small saucepan.
- Pour the butter out of the pot, leaving behind the browned bits.
- “Ribbon” the eggs and sugar.
- Fold in the flour.
- Add the browned butter to the batter.
- Whisk to combine.
- Scoop the batter into a Madeleine pan.
- Bake until brown around the edges and set in the center.
We love French Pastries. Here are more recipes for you to try: Pate a Choux, Chocolate Marveilluex, Baba au Rhum, Marolaine, Kouign-Amann, Caneles, Macarons, Sable Cookies and a romantic Coeur a la Creme.
If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.
French Madeleines Recipe
- 6 ounces unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 lemon (finely grated zest)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/8 teaspoon table salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1 large yolks
- 5 ounces granulated sugar (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons )
- 5 ounces all purpose flour (1 cup)
- Melt 6 ounces unsalted butter in a small saucepan. Continue heating the butter until it foams, bubbles and the milk solids fall to the bottom of the pan. Allow the milk solids to brown but be careful not to let them burn. Pour the browned butter into a small bowl, leaving the milk solids in the pan.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1/8 teaspoon table salt to the browned butter. Set aside to cool but not solidify.
- In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk 3 large eggs, 1 large yolks with 5 ounces granulated sugar until pale, aerated and the batter leaves a "ribbon" on the surface when drizzled.
- Sift 5 ounces all purpose flour over the eggs and fold in by hand with a wire whisk. Fold in the browned butter. Set the batter aside to rest for 1 hour.
- While the batter is resting, preheat oven to 400°F. Butter the madeleine pan.
- Use a scooper or a heaping tablespoon of batter to fill each cookie mold 3/4 of the way.
- Bake 8-10 minutes until golden brown around the edges and set in the center. Madeleines are best eaten slightly warm or within a couple of hours of baking.
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Thursday 2nd of December 2021
The kids love madeleines; decided to try the recipe and something wasn’t right… 1. After the rest time, the batter was quite hard; is it supposed to be so hard? 2. When baking, the butter kind of starts separating from the batter and drips everywhere. I put the 170g of butter as the recipe asks and can’t understand why it did this; like there was way too much butter in the batter. 3. The taste is not bad, but the consistency of the madeleine is not the right one. It became quite dense. What am I doing wrong? Followed the recipe by the dot.
P.S. it doesn’t take any baking powder to make madeleines? Noticed that baking powder is not part of the ingredients.
Friday 3rd of December 2021
@Eileen Gray, since in the instructions doesn’t say to let it rest in the refrigerator, I didn’t put there to rest. I believe I did fully fold the butter in the batter, but maybe I didn’t, not really sure. I’m not US based, so definitely the flour will be different, even though I used all purpose flour. The eggs… I didn’t use large size eggs, but medium, maybe that’s why it didn’t come out well? Otherwise, looking at the pictures, everything came exactly the same. Just the butter that came out while cooking and I feel that the final result was quite denser than the ones on the picture. Thank you replying to me; I love your website and at least ones a week do something from here (specially the sourdough recipes). Will try again with different butter next time. I’m suspecting that maybe is the butter… it was the first time to use the butter that I did. And will add one more egg if using medium eggs.
Thursday 2nd of December 2021
Did you rest the cookies in the refrigerator? It should stay at room temp while resting. I have no idea why the butter separated during baking. I haven't had that happen. Did you fully fold the butter into the batter. What type of flour did you use? If you're not US based your flour could be different and your eggs could be a different size. I'm not sure what texture you're expecting, but the cookies are like a spongy and buttery tiny cake. Like a sponge cake, the whipped eggs provide the lift for these cookies so they don't need baking powder for lift. As you made the recipe did the batter in each stage look like it does in the photos?