Madeleines are a classic French staple. Called cakes by some and cookies by others, these little treats are traditionally shaped like shells.

When I lived in France, my roommates and I used to frequently eat madeleines. Not fresh, homemade madeleines, but the delightful sort that could be found in every French grocery store. I used to buy a large bag of Bonne Maman madeleines that my roommates and I would devour, often topping each little cake with a large dollop of Nutella. Very healthy, I know.

I’ve baked madeleines a few times in the past, but I don’t have a go-to recipe that I keep nearby. The last time I made madeleines, I vaguely remember accidentally doubling the amount of butter, which resulted in incredibly rich madeleines. A stick of butter a day keeps the doctor away? Hah.

The recipe below is from 101 Cookbooks. It was easy to follow, and the resulting madeleines were crisp on the outside, and cake-y on the inside. I have to say that these madeleines taste best fresh. After a few days, they were not nearly as delicious as when they came out of the oven. The recipe below makes about 24 madeleines.

All the ingredients on the counterIngredients

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (6 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter (for greasing pan)
  • 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • a pinch fine-grain sea salt
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • zest of one large lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Clarify the butter (it’s a process that removes water and milk solids). Over low-medium heat, melt the butter in a small pot. As the butter heats, a layer of white foam will develop. Scoop off the foam. Leave the butter on heat until it is lightly browned. (Be careful, butter can go from browned to burned in a matter of minutes). Strain the butter and set aside to cool (use a paper towel over a mesh strainer).

Use the 2 remaining tablespoons of butter to grease the madeleine pans (make sure to butter all the grooves). Dust with flour. Invert the pan and tap to remove excess flour.

Crack the eggs into a bowl. Add salt. Using a stand or electric mixer, whip on high speed until thick, about 3 minutes. While continuing to beat the eggs, slowly add the sugar. Whip for two more minutes.

Using a spatula, fold in the lemon zest and vanilla. Add the flour to the egg batter and gently fold in. Sprinkle the flour on top of the egg batter and gently fold-in. Don’t overmix. Gently fold in the butter.

Fill the buttered and floured molds, about 3/4 full. Bake the madeleines for 12 – 14 minutes, or until the edges of the madeleines are golden brown.

Remove the madeleines from their molds, and cool on racks. Dust with powdered sugar.

Baked madeleines on a cooling rackClose up of baked madeleines on a cooling rack topped with powdered sugar

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