A recipe for simple, classic chocolate madeleines — little French cakes that are combination cake and cookie, moist on the inside with a thin, crisp crust on the outside.
So, you’re in the mood for chocolate?
Yes! Me too. Next comes the question of whether you want to indulge in cake or cookies.
How about a little of both?
These rich, moist chocolate madeleines are a happy combination of the two — they’re buttery, two-bite treats shaped like little shells.
When you take a bite, you’ll meet a thin crust, slightly crisp on the outside, before sinking your teeth into the moist, melting chocolate crumb on the inside.
What are French madeleines?
Madeleines are small, individual cakes probably more famous in literature than at your local bakery.
They’re made in a rainbow of flavors besides chocolate, like lemon, pistachio and vanilla.
Marcel Proust loved them so much he put them in his famous novel and then, apparently, never got over them.
He describes them as “seashell cakes so strictly pleated outside, and so sensual inside.” Damn.
While the recipe for making madeleines is pretty basic, there’s one thing to know — as much as I hate to be that person who makes you go out and buy a special pan just to bake little chocolate cakes…you kind of have to.
But really, in order to achieve the characteristic domed, scalloped shape of authentic French madeleines, you’ll need a madeleine pan.
The fluted tins are not very expensive and trust me, once you make a batch (and then another) you’ll be glad you did!
I have a few non-stick ones that work like a charm.
Tips and Tricks for Making Chocolate Madeleines
- Chilling the batter for an hour or so before baking helps form their shape.
- The top side of the madeleines will puff into a “bump” and split a little while they bake — that’s perfect.
- Butter the tin thoroughly to make sure the madeleines release easily.
- Sift the flour, cocoa and powdered sugar in a mesh strainer to avoid lumps in the batter.
- For extra flavor, dip the baked madeleines into melted chocolate or ganache.
Madeleines are delicious at room temperature, and especially good slightly warm from the oven. They keep well for a few days in a covered container.
French Chocolate Madeleines
Yield 18 - 24 madeleines
Classic French madeleines are a delectable sweet treat made with rich dark chocolate. They taste like a combination of a cookie and a cake in one dessert.
The recipe is simple, but you do need a madeleine pan to make them.
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 10 tablespoons butter
- 6 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 large egg whites (3/4 cup)
- Brush a madeleine baking pan with the melted butter.
- Put remaining butter and the chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (be sure the water doesn't touch the bowl). Heat until chocolate and butter are almost melted; remove from heat and stir together until smooth.
- Sift sugar, flour, cocoa and salt into a bowl using a mesh strainer.
- Beat egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer or by hand until very frothy. Stir in flour mixture until combined. Add chocolate mixture and mix with a spatula until well blended.
- Portion batter into pan. Chill in the refrigerator one hour. If your pan makes only 12 at a time, chill remaining batter in a bowl and bake in batches.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Bake about 12 minutes, or until madeleines are springy to touch. Cool in pan 1 minute, then unmold madeleines onto a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Pin this recipe:
Hi there! I’m Karen, a mother of two and a professionally trained cook certified in holistic nutrition.
Have a question or feedback on a recipe?
Join the conversation and leave a comment below, or send me an email — I love hearing from you!