Sunday, August 15, 2010

The dessert of the kings

Vanilla madeleines

I was in choir during 12th grade. That was one of the highlights of high school and gave me many fond memories. Due to my new-found love of choral music, I sometimes went back to attend the performances after graduating. One such concert was grand, fervent and a very poignant experience.

There was a reception afterwards with hot cider and all kinds of desserts. The madeleines immediately caught my attention. I don't know whether it was their origin, name or shape that is romantic, but Mom and I each decided to try one. To my surprise, they were among the best cookies I've ever had; neither the taste nor texture could be any better. Although I've tried different varieties of madeleines since then, none of them made me want to buy the same brand.

Having enjoyed the ones at the reception so much, the two of us began experimenting with different recipes to try to recreate the taste. Mom shared her most recent batch with my graduate class, and much to our surprise, everyone asked us where we bought them. Upon learning that they were homemade, several classmates requested the recipe. While this dessert is one of the hardest ones to make, you can get varying textures through different methods.


  • 5 tbsp cake flour
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ⅔ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ cups butter
  • ½ cups chocolate chips
  • ¼ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
  3. Lightly beat eggs.
  4. Heat butter until hot. Add sugar and stir.
  5. Immediately add eggs to mixture.
  6. Stir in dry ingredients, folding in mixture to prevent sticking.
  7. Pour batter into prepared madeleine pan; there should be enough for a dozen.
  8. Tap pan to remove air.
  9. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven and immediately invert onto wire rack to cool.


  1. Our version more closely resembles cookies. This is the reason so many people wanted the recipe, although it's somewhat harder to make.
  2. It may be easier to beat the eggs until they are fluffy before adding sugar, and continue until the mixture is pale before adding melted butter. However, the resulting texture will be between that of cookies and cake.
  3. The reason for beating the eggs gently is to prevent air from getting in as air bubbles make the madeleines rough. They take a lot of skill to prepare, hence their prices. That said, everything gets easier with practice.
  4. You can use other molds to create different shapes, such as the heart shown above.
  5. Put the madeleines in a box if you're giving them to someone. This makes them look very professional.

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