When you’re handed a madeleine, life suddenly becomes joyful. It’s a sweet French cake of sheer pleasure that’s universally loved, and one with a rich history, dating back to the Duke of Lorraine and mythologized in Swann’s Way.
The madeleine of my childhood was larger, served at room temperature, and typically eaten after a nap. We’ve been making our bite-size version for more than 20 years as a kind of farewell to our diners. They are served warm and are a good antidote to the winter chill, so I recommend making a large batch for your holiday party. It’s a versatile cake that allows for personal touches; you can serve them with jams or dip them in chocolate. The possibilities are endless.
What makes our madeleine unique is the addition of honey, which gives it a sweet flavor and an intoxicating aroma. I think Proust would certainly remember this one.
Makes 6 dozen mini or 1 dozen standard madeleines
3⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
1⁄4 cup 2 T granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. packed light brown sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
6 T unsalted butter, melted and warm
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, eggs, honey, brown sugar, and lemon zest. Add the our mixture and combine. Stir in the melted butter until incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the batter for 1 hour or overnight. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Liberally spray a nonstick 24-mini or 12-standard madeleine mold with cooking spray. Scrape the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a medium round tip. Pipe the molds two-thirds full, using about 1 tsp. of batter for each mini mold and 2 T of batter for each standard mold. For mini madeleines, bake until their centers rise and the edges are golden brown, about 4 minutes, rotating the mold halfway through the baking. Bake the standard madeleines for 5 minutes, reduce the heat to 350°F, rotate the mold, and continue baking until the centers rise and the edges are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and tap the mold gently against a counter to release the madeleines. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve warm. Repeat to make additional batches.
What To Drink
“At the restaurant, we serve warm madeleines to every guest at the end of the meal,” says Raj Vaidya, head sommelier at Daniel restaurant. “To pair the cakes with wine, it’s best to pick one with some acid to brighten up the palate and balance the sweetness. I love Julian Haart’s 2016 Moselle Riesling from Germany [$22], a slightly off-dry but balanced and acid-forward — almost tart — Riesling, which highlights the citrus in the pastry. For more of a splurge, La Caravelle’s nonvintage Rosé Brut Champagne [$38] is a lovely treat, the gentle bubbles offsetting the rich, spongy texture of the madeleine.”
This story was originally published in the December 2017 issue of ELLE DECOR.