I've been hearing about my friend Lanha's madeleine recipe for years now - no exaggeration. Madeleines are her go-to cookie - she makes them for parties, she makes them as gifts, she makes them when people stop by her house to visit, she makes them when the wind changes direction. She will talk your ear off about the delicious scent of the browning butter, she frets about the appropriate amount of lemon zest in each batch, and she will expound on the merits of traditional metal madeleine pans versus newer silicon molds in the quest for the perfect golden scalloped cookie. I was visiting LA this weekend and it was baking school time for me as Lanha showed me first hand how she makes the magic happen (in her famous Dwell-worthy kitchen!)....
I had to ask her, why madeleines? Of all the cookies recipes in the world, why these? She tells me, "I enjoy making madeleines for Silvio (her French husband) because they remind him of his life in France. I was tired of paying $5 for a couple of cookies in boutique delis and decided to try my sister Kaly's fail-safe recipe. Now that I've made the cookies so much, I can whip out several dozen in less than an hour (the recipe may seem daunting at first, but I promise you, it's easy). Madeleines stacked in a tin make great gifts and also, I've never met a person that didn't absolutely love them!"
I second all of Lanha's sentiments - I made a batch on my own after my hands-on lesson, and her madeleine recipe came together beautifully. And a big thanks to her sister Kaly for originally passing down the recipe to Lanha. I've made a few changes/tweaks to the instructions for clarity.
My madeleine pan makes tiny, baby madeleines, it was another flea market find for those of you wanting one like it I found one very similar here. I've flipped the madeleines in the photo at the top so you can see their pretty scalloped bellies.
Lanha and I both prefer metal pans to the newer silicon molds. My metal pan brings a beautiful golden hue to the cookies, and to be honest I don't like the looks of the silicon molds - all those zany colors. Madeleines look better baking in metal, I promise.
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
a bit of extra flour for dusting baking pan
Special equipment: A madeleine baking pan, regular or small
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Melt the 1 1/2 sticks of butter in a small pot over medium heat until it's brown and gives off a deliciously nutty aroma, roughly 20 minutes. Strain (using a paper towel over a mesh strainer) - you want to leave the solids behind. Cool the butter to room temperature. By doing the butter first you can complete the rest of the steps while it is cooling.
While the melted butter is cooling, use the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to grease the madeleine molds - get in there and make sure you get in all the ridges. Dust with flour and invert the pan tapping out any excess flour. Lanha uses "cooking spray" with flour to simplify this part.
Put the eggs with the salt in the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment. Whip on high speed until thick - you are looking for the eggs to roughly double or triple in volume - approximately 3 minutes. Continuing to mix on high speed, slowly add the sugar in a steady stream. Whip for 2 minutes or until mixture is thick and ribbony. Now with a spatula fold in the lemon zest and vanilla (just until mixed).
Sprinkle the flour on top of the egg batter, and gently fold in. Now fold in the butter mixture. Only stirring enough to bring everything together.
Spoon the batter into the molds, filling each mold 2/3 -3/4 full. I use a small cup filled with batter to keep things clean and manageable, it is easier than using a spoon.
Bake the madeleines for 12 - 14 minutes (7-10 minutes for smaller cookies), or until the edges of the madeleines are golden brown. Remove from oven and unmold immediately. Cool on racks and dust with powdered sugar.
Makes 2 -3 dozen regular madeleines.