Simple Vanilla Bean Madeleines
Although madeleines seem challenging to make, they can be quite simple. The ingredients are simple, the process is simple and there are a couple things I’ve learned along the way regarding madeleines. A while back I shared this recipe a couple of times but since then I’ve perfected this recipe to get the best texture and lift possible. I think the biggest secret to making madeleines is to let go of perfection and to understand that there will be humps and hills in some madeleines. We are striving for great texture and phenomenal taste here. I don’t think I’m ever going to be done with madeleine recipes or finding better ways to make them but I’m here to share what I’ve learned and what I know so far, right here and now.
Let’s get started! When I think of the perfect madeleine, I think of a cake-like sponge that is moist and light but not too airy. We don’t want big holes on the inside of the madeleines. To avoid this from happening, it’s important not to over-mix the dough by whipping it. Not many madeleine recipes that I’ve seen call for this, but I like to add heavy cream to mine to add flavor and richness and that added bit of moisture. Aside from this, a great vanilla bean paste is going to make all the difference. Here's what’s involved with this recipe:
Sugar -Try a fine granulated sugar or what’s known as caster sugar. The super-fine grains will blend well and give the madeleines a lighter, fluffier texture. You may also want to try a golden sugar which is also a finer sugar. Note that if you’re using golden sugar, it may be a bit less sweet and for some of us, that may also be optimal.
Vanilla Bean Paste -A great vanilla bean paste is going to make all the difference in this recipe because we really want the flavor of vanilla to shine through. I recommend vanilla bean paste made by Nielsen Massey or Rodelle. If you’re without, try a high-quality pure vanilla extract. Both types of extract may be used interchangeably, however vanilla bean paste has a greater intensity and would be the best choice for flavor.
Eggs -I prefer to have my eggs at room temperature before mixing them into my batter. The eggs will blend well into the batter.
Heavy Cream -Two tablespoons of just a splash of heavy cream will add a richness to your madeleines. The tiny bit of extra fat gives a hint of more flavor and adds more moisture.
Salt -I recommend using a finely ground pink Himalayan salt or fine sea salt which is not overpowering and incorporates better than a table salt or kosher salt. When it comes to cookies, cakes, and desserts I like to use a finer salt.
Flour -A great flour to use for madeleines is White Lily. White Lily flour has a soft, light texture and less protein in it which is going to help create the fluffy cake texture that makes madeleines so special.
Butter -The butter should be melted but cooled down enough where it isn’t hot liquid being poured into the batter. I find that unsalted butter is best for this recipe.
To prepare your madeleine pans, take a pastry brush and dip in the melted butter. You don’t need a lot, and lightly brush each indentation of the pan. A little bit of butter helps the madeleines release much easier from the pan and gives them a light golden hue. Some recipes call for greasing and flouring pans, but I don’t find that necessary.
SIMPLE VANILLA BEAN MADELEINES
⅔ cup of fine granulated sugar
3 teaspoons of pure vanilla bean paste
2 large eggs at room temperature
2 tablespoons heavy cream
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, and slightly cooled
Preheat oven to 375° and prepare madeleine pans by lightly brushing them with melted butter. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat both eggs with sugar in a large bowl until just combined. Mix in vanilla bean paste and salt. Stir in heavy cream. Add in flour and beat just until blended. Slowly add in the cooled butter while mixing, just until combined.
Add batter into a 12-inch pastry bag for a neater fill or spoon batter into each madeleine indentation of the pan. Fill each indentation at least two-thirds of the way full, making sure not to overfill.
Bake until madeleines are puffed and slightly brown, about 15 minutes. Cool for several minutes and dust madeleines with powdered sugar. Madeleines may also be dipped in chocolate or other toppings.