One of my favorite parts about cooking is the adventure. Any time I see a dish that I’ve never eaten, I know I can look up recipes online and try to make it myself. Many new foods I’ve had for the first time because I made them myself. Once I developed a good understanding of basic cooking skills, I had more successes than flops, which boosted my cooking confidence and encouraged me to keep exploring. One of my favorite cooking adventures was madeleines.
When I reached college, I’d never had a madeleine before. But I’d read about them and decided I wanted to make some. My boyfriend at the time (now husband) surprised me on my birthday with a madeleine pan and a pretty glass butter keeper with a cow on top. I was delighted that he remembered how much I wanted to try madeleines (and I’d been asking for a butter keeper, too).
That evening, after a day of shopping and fun, I made madeleines in his kitchen. Simple ingredients combined in strange ways – mix the sugar and flour with eggs, then let it rest? I was used to cookies where the butter and sugar are creamed together first, then the eggs, and the flour is added last. But, I followed the steps carefully and an hour and a half later, small domed cookies emerged from the oven.
The first bite was magic. The cookies were firm yet soft, dense, but not heavy. The sweet and tart mingled perfectly.They remind me of little bites of pound cake. The first batch disappeared that day, shared with my boyfriend’s many roommates. With that first experience, madeleines became one of our favorite cookies.
They’ve become a staple among our friends, too. I’ve taken countless madeleines to parties, birthdays, and other celebrations. I’ve even tried my hand at filling them, and I’ll share that recipe sometime. They’re incredible with little pockets of Nutella or fruit curd inside, but the classic lemon will always have a special place in my heart.
Inspired by Hungry Sofia and the kitchn
- 1 c. flour
- 2/3 c. sugar
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 4 oz. (1 stick) salted butter
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Zest from half a lemon
- 1 tsp. to 1 T. of lemon juice
- Extra butter at room temperature for greasing the pan
- In a mixing bowl, combine flour and sugar.
- Beat the eggs well, then stir them into the flour and sugar. The batter will be stiff. Let the batter rest for 10 minutes.
- While the batter is resting, melt the butter. The goal is to get the butter to a liquid but keep it at room temperature. I either melt it on low on the stove until it's just melted or microwave it at intervals on a low power. If it gets too hot, you can put it in the fridge for a bit to cool off or set the bowl of melted butter in a dish of ice and stir until it cools down. At the desired temperature, you should be able to swirl your finger through the liquid butter without it feeling hot (warm is ok).
- Add the butter to the egg mixture and stir. The mixture will be thick, and it will take a few moments before the butter starts incorporating. Just keep stirring. When the dough comes together, add the vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice. I usually add 1 tsp of juice, but you can use more if you want a more intense lemon flavor. If your butter isn't very salty, or you're using unsalted butter, add a small pinch of salt, too.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for one hour.
- Ten minutes before the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 375.
- Grease the wells of the madeleine pan with butter. (I use my fingers to do this, but you also dip a paper towel into some soft butter.) I use about a tablespoon of butter to grease all 12 shells in my madeleine pan. Make sure to grease the edges of the shell, as the dough will rise to fill the space, and the last thing you want is a torn edge on your madeleines because they stuck to the edges of the molds.
- Fill each madeleine shell with 1 tablespoon of cold dough. The shell should be filled about 3/4 full. Leave the dough mounded - there's no need to spread it out because it will spread to fill the cup during baking.
- Bake for 15-17 minutes, until the madeleines are humped in the center, and the edges are golden brown. Let cool in the pan for a few minutes. Carefully slide a knife under the edge and lift the cookie out of the pan and finish cooling on a rac. Enjoy!