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, are you in the mood for chocolate?
Yes! Me too. Next comes the question of whether you want to indulge in cake or cookies.
What about the intense, giant chocolate cookies called Chocolate Whoppers?
Or a soft and fudgy flourless chocolate souffle cake?
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.
can you make Madeleines without a mold?
While the recipe for making madeleines is pretty basic, there’s one thing to know.
You need a madeleine pan, molded with shallow shell-shape cups, to make these special cakes.
I hate to be that person who makes you go out and buy a special pan just to bake little chocolate cakes…but you kind of have to.
Really, in order to achieve the characteristic domed, scalloped shape of authentic French madeleines, you’ll need a madeleine pan like this one.
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 Recipe
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) melted butter
- 10 tablespoons (150 g) butter
- 6 ounces (175 g) dark or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 ½ cups (180 g) powdered confectioners sugar
- ½ cup (70 g) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (55 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 6 (185 ml) large egg whites (¾ 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, 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir together until smooth.
- Sift powdered 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, about 2 minutes. Stir in flour mixture until combined. Add chocolate mixture and mix with a spatula until well blended.
- Portion batter into the pan, filllig each cup with about 1 heaping tablespoon of batter. 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.
- Recipe will yield 18-14 madeleines, depending on your pan size.
- The madeleines will have the ideal crisp outside/soft inside texture just after baking. They will keep for a few days at room temperature in a covered container, but they will soften and become more cake-like — still delicious!