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 my high school years and gave me fond memories. Due to my newfound love of choral music, I sometimes went back to attend the performances.

One such concert was grand, fervent and a very poignant experience. There was a reception afterwards with desserts and hot cider. 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. They turned out to be one of the best cookies I've ever had - neither the taste nor texture could be any better. Although I've tried other versions since then, none of them came close.

That inspired us to experiment 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 they were homemade, several classmates requested the recipe. Although this recipe is more difficult than the others, 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 melted. Add sugar and stir.
  5. Immediately add eggs to mixture.
  6. Stir in dry ingredients, folding in mixture to prevent sticking together.
  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 why 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. In this case, continue beating the mixture until it 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 texture rough. These cookies take a lot of skill to prepare and are expensive for this reason. 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 cookies in a box if you're giving them to someone. This makes them look very professional.

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