This post was originally published here on December 14, 2015. I’ve since adjusted the recipe slightly. And updated the photographs and text to reflect those changes. Whether you think madeleines are cookies are cakes, I hope you give them a try!
Are madeleines cookies or cakes? Believe it or not, this is a hot debate. Madeleines are technically small, delicate butter cakes. But because of their shape and small size (and the fact that you just eat them with your hands), people often categorize them as cookies.
I personally think they are cakes. But whatever you believe, they are a fun treat to make for a special occasion. Their light crumb and pretty scalloped edges give them an heir of sophistication. They can be dressed up to be as festive as you want, with fun decorating sprinkles or nuts (chopped hazelnuts would be great here). Or you can leave them plain. These Chocolate Hazelnut Madeleines would be a great pass-around dessert for a Holiday cocktail party (again, no forks or plates required!).
Madeleines are made up of a simple list of ingredients. But there are a few tips to follow when making the batter to ensure they come out just right. First, you really want to whisk the butter and sugars together until the mixture is very pale and fluffy. This can take up to 8 minutes. The mixture should be close to double in size when you’re done. This aeration is what gives the lift to the madeleines. Be gentle in the steps that follow and carefully and delicately fold in the dry ingredients and the melted butter so as not to deflate the batter too much.
Once the batter is made, chill it in your refrigerator for at least 4 hours or up to overnight. This allows the flours to hydrate. The batter will be noticeably thicker after this step.
To make madeleines, you do need a madeleine pan. I’ve seen them made in a muffin tin, but I’ve never tried this method myself so I can’t recommend it. Without the special pan, you’ll miss out on the iconic look of the madeleines, so I don’t really think it’s the same. Sorry/not sorry.
Madeleines are really best when they are eaten the day they are baked. This recipe makes just 18 madeleines, which is an ideal number for a small-medium sized gathering. I have successfully doubled this recipe in the past with no issues.
Hazelnut flour can sometimes be difficult to find. If you can’t find it, almond flour is a great substitute in this recipe. The difference between hazelnut (or almond) flour and meal is the flour is made from blanched nuts. While the meal is made unpeeled/unblanched nuts and thus will be a bit coarser and have little flecks of skin in it. I often prefer to use meal in cookies, because it’s a bit more hearty and nutty tasting. But for madeleines, flour is preferred since these cakes are supposed to be delicate and light.
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup hazelnut flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
- 8 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 6-ounces semi-sweet or dark chocolate, chopped
- Decorating sprinkles or chopped nuts
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- Add the eggs and sugars to the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed until the mixture is very pale and fluffy, about 8 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the dry ingredients in two additions, folding just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Be careful not to deflate the batter too much. Then gently fold in the melted butter and vanilla extract.
- Cover your bowl with a piece of plastic wrap, pressing it down all the way so it directly contacts the surface of the batter, and place in your refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
- Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Remove the batter from your refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes. Using a rubber spatula or large spoon, gently fold the batter 2-3 times.
- Generously grease the wells of your madeleine pan with either non-stick cooking spray or melted butter. Both methods work great, but the butter will give the madeleines a slightly crispy exterior.
- Spoon some of the batter into each well, filling them about three-quarters full. Transfer the pan to your pre-heated oven and bake for 9-11 minutes. The madeleines should look slightly moist on top, but the edges will be firm and dry. Remove the pan from your oven and immediately flip it and shake the madeleines out onto your countertop. If any of the madeleines don’t come out easily, you can use a small paring knife to help release them around the edges. Transfer the madeleines to a wire rack to continue cooling.
- Once your madeleine pan is cool, re-grease the wells and bake up the remaining batter. If there are a lot of crumbs stuck to the wells of your madeleine pan, give it a quick rinse beforehand.
- Once all the madeleines are baked and cooled, gently melt the chopped chocolate in either a double boiler or your microwave in 30 second intervals. Dip one end of the madeleines into the melted chocolate, letting the excess drip off before placing them on a piece of wax paper. Coat with sprinkles or chopped nuts, if desired.
- Madeleines are best when they are eaten on the day they are made.
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.