Madeleines are plump, little sponge cakes traditionally flavored with just vanilla. These have a small bit of orange zest in them for added warmth and aroma. The cake is served as a snack, is lovely with a cup of tea or coffee and even delicious with a little glass of wine.
The name "Madeleine" according to some was given to the cookies by French King Louis XV to honor Madeleine Paulmier who was his father in-law's cook around 1755. That is how long they have been a French favorite cake.
Cook’s note: The trick to getting notoriously stubborn madeleines out of the pan without cracking them is to very generously grease the pan. Butter works best for this recipe, and it gives the added benefit of helping the madeleines achieve their trademark golden color.
- 1/2 cup butter (melted)
- 2/3 cup sugar (granulated)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Optional: 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup flour (all-purpose)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Cream the butter and granulated sugar in a stand mixer on high until it is light, fluffy and turning a pale color.
Add the vanilla extract and orange zest to the butter mixture. Turn the mixer to low speed and add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Do not rush this process or the mixture may curdle. Though this can be corrected with the addition of a little flour, it is best to avoid if you can.
Beat the mixture on medium-high for about 3 to 4 minutes, until the mixture has lightened in color and is very fluffy.
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder. Very gently fold the flour and baking powder into the egg mixture using a spoon, not the stand mixer. Once the batter is smooth, cover it and transfer it to the refrigerator for 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Generously grease 2 standard madeleine pans, do not skimp on this process as enough greasing now will prevent the cakes from sticking. Spoon the cold batter into the molds.
Bake them in the preheated oven for 10 to 13 minutes, until they are puffed and turn golden brown.
Invert the pans onto wire racks and give them a hard tap to remove the cookies from the molds. Leave them to cool but not cold. Serve them warm dusted with confectioners’ sugar for the best flavor.