Honey Spiced Madeleines

French Fridays with Dorie

Honey Spiced Madeleines

I wanted to write a poetic masterpiece describing all manner of involuntary memories my recent encounter these Honey Spiced Madeleines provoked of me.   That sort of thing is my stock in trade  at Sis. Boom [blog!] after all and I do hate to disappoint!   This perfect, tiny, fall predicting jewel of a cake slash cookie was to mark my triumphant return to the French Friday’s with Dorie parade after an unfortunate, weeks long absence due to a combination of factors such as work travel and complete disinterest (cookies and chicken? Nah.).

This time around I really wanted to turn in a good performance for my beloved Doristas.    I really did.

There can be no doubt about it that the madeleine is one inspiring baked confection.  One taste and any mere mortal will surely be locked under its spell for good.   Subsequent encounters will flood your brain with the romantic memories and inspiring times created at your first meeting.   Even if you have never met before it is likely a well orchestrated madeleine can fill you memories you didn’t know you had.  Yes, when madeleines are good, they are that good.

So what could be more fun than to take a bite of this tiny, elegant puff of perfection and make love to it with words?

Then I bit into one and remembered MY college lit class and recalled the esteemed French noveliast Marcel Proust’s already famous ode to the madeleine.  C’est la vie.  Proust’s narrator in his “In Search of Lost Time” has a near orgasmic spiritual epiphany after consuming just one taste of the beloved madeleine:

“She sent for one of those squat, plump little cakes called “petites madeleines,” which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted valve of a scallop shell. And soon, mechanically, dispirited after a dreary day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. “

The narrator’s memories are so fantastic and so well written that they will just have to be mine for the remainder of this post:

“… Suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before mass), when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom , my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane. The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it; perhaps because I had so often seen such things in the meantime, without tasting them, on the trays in pastry-cooks’ windows, that their image had dissociated itself from those Combray days to take its place among others more recent; perhaps because of those memories, so long abandoned and put out of mind, nothing now survived, everything was scattered; the shapes of things, including that of the little scallop-shell of pastry, so richly sensual under its severe, religious folds, were either obliterated or had been so long dormant as to have lost the power of expansion which would have allowed them to resume their place in my consciousness.


“And as soon as I had recognized the taste of the piece of madeleine soaked in her decoction of lime-blossom which my aunt used to give me (although I did not yet know and must long postpone the discovery of why this memory made me so happy) immediately the old grey house upon the street, where her room was, rose up like a stage set to attach itself to the little pavilion opening on to the garden which had been built out behind it for my parents (the isolated segment which until that moment had been all that I could see); and with the house the town, from morning to night and in all weathers, the Square where I used to be sent before lunch, the streets along which I used to run errands, the country roads we took when it was fine. ”

Just as it is not recommended to settle for one madeleine, I hope you won’t just settle for my excerpts here.   Please click over here to read the full piece when you get a chance.   Its delicious.


Honey Spiced Madeleines

Honey Spiced Madeleines

Dorie Greenspan’s gutsy tampering with this French classic could inspire us all to take more chances in our lives.  I never would have thought to take the madeleine’s delicate springy balance of of eggs, butter and kiss of lemon and risk overpowering it with those overused barometers of fall: cinnamon, clove and ginger.  (What’s next? Cranberry apple madeleines?)   Don’t we get enough of this marauding spice trio in just about every other fall/holiday treat these days?

I would have really liked to nix the whole idea and cry foul at this whole fall indoctrination of this classed except for one tiny thing:  it really works here.    The spiced flavoring (with the citrus recast as orange) is restrained and takes full advantage of the format’s overlooked most positive attribute: its small size.  There just isn’t enough of it to get sick of.    Beyond the flavor, the texture is what a madeleine should be: soft with the tiniest bit of crunch on the outside and a springy texture brought on by the thorough whip of eggs and butter.  And unlike the grossly expensive madeleines brought to you by chains such as Starbucks there are no preservatives here, just tasty, perishable perfection.

And they make a good peace offering to sisters too.

Honey Spiced Madeleines
Honey Spiced Madeleines

Yield: Makes 12 large or more than 36 mini madeleines

This is what you will need:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (or a little less, if you prefer)
  • Pinch of salt (I don’t know what a ‘pinch’ is but I used a big one’
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper (same here)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

This is how you make it:

  1. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, spices, salt and pepper and keep at hand.
  2. Working in a mixer bowl, rub the sugar and orange zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
  3. Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment (you can make this batter easily with a handheld mixer or just a whisk, if you prefer),
  4. add the eggs to the bowl and beat until the mixture is light, fluffy and thickened, about 2 minutes;
  5. beat in the honey, then the vanilla.
  6. Switch to a rubber spatula and very gently fold in the dry ingredients followed by the melted butter.
  7. You may use the batter now, but it’s better if you can give it a little rest.
  8. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the batter and chill for 3 hours or, if you have the time, overnight.
  9. (For real convenience, you can spoon the batter into buttered-and-floured madeleine molds, cover, chill, then bake the cookies directly from the fridge. See below for instructions on prepping the pans.)
  10. Getting ready to bake:
  11. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  12. Butter 12 full-size madeleine molds (or 36 mini-molds), dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess.
  13. If you have a nonstick madeleine mold, butter and flour it or give it a light coating of vegetable cooking spray.
  14. (If your pan is silicone, you can leave it as is.) Place the pan on a baking sheet.
  15. Spoon the batter into the molds, filling each one.
  16. Bake the large madeleines for 11 to 13 minutes and the minis for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the madeleines are golden and the tops spring back when prodded gently.
  17. Remove the pan from the oven and release the madeleines from the molds by rapping the edge of the pan against the counter.
  18. Gently pry any recalcitrant madeleines from the pan using your fingers or a butter knife.
  19. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to just-warm or room temperature.
Honey Spiced Madeleines

About Trevor Kensey

To be truthful, I don't know what “Sis. Boom. [blog!]" means either. The name implies something explosive just happened I suppose I would like it if each post would make made a small 'boom' in your day or at least a fizzle. Even though a recipe is included with every post I have a hard time calling this a "food blog" or even myself a "food blogger".

Previous Post:
Next Post:

  1. Welcome back! Your madeleines are definitely objects of beauty, not requiring any makeup at all.

  2. I really enjoy dropping by to see what’s new on your blog. These cookies are my Saturday project!

  3. Your madeleines look just perfect. I may have to give the classic recipe a try at some point because I admit that the honey-spice ones were not my favorites (no offense to Proust intended).

  4. Yay welcome back! Your madeleines are perfect. I made the classic ones and they were pretty delicious – not as pretty as yours though but I took notes to know what to correct next time. Nice post!

  5. Yours are PERFECT! So glad to see you back this week…and for the lovely dose of Proust this AM. Now I’m wishing I had some leftovers to dip in my Irish breakfast tea~

  6. Hmmm…Proust’s narrator definitely had a better time with her madeleines than I did. I may try a few more recipes for them over the next year and see if I can find one that I like better.

  7. Like you I would have thought that putting the spices in there might not be a good thing-but I am glad to read that they did turn out pretty tasty. I guess it is all in the amount of ingredients. Your pictures are stunning-great post.

  8. I’m sure your sister would forgive you anything if you bring her some madeleines. Your’s look absolutely perfect! Love your literary reference…nice post!

  9. ALRIGHT!! What’s better than ginger, cinnamon & cloves!? Not much in my book, except chocolate of course. You already knew THAT! I can almost taste those little spiced puffs in all their yumminess. It seems perfect to see this on the first day of Autumn, which brings to my mind pumpkins & spice.
    I always find your blog so entertaining as well as filled with beautiful photos and stories that bring out lots of my childhood memories. Thanks Trevor!

  10. It seems almost blasphemous that Starbucks would even carry madeleines! Yours look wonderful!

  11. He’s ba-ack… You were missed.
    Now I am thinking about cranberries & apples (but not in madeline form…)

  12. Perfection! And thanks for not blasting my use of the tea cake pan – I figured I’m risking drawing some ire, but really wanted to make the recipe anyway! (And congrats on so many Tastespotting features – that’s awesome!)

  13. A wonderful read, as always! And, I agree, the flavors really work here. Nicely done!

  14. Trevor’s back! I’ve been enjoying all the Proust references, but yours have been the most complete. I also love your last photo of the madeleines “tumbling” around on the cooling rack!

  15. Your madeleines are things of beauty(gorgeous photos) and your tips on preparing the pan are helpful, I did chill the batter in the pan before baking.
    Baking for me comes naturally- writing on the other hand is like torture but I do like to read and do find inspiration from your posts- I thank you for that;-)

  16. Your madeleines are gorgeous, Trevor. I don’t mind at all that you posted Proust here; au contraire, thanks for pointing me the right way.

  17. Great post and recipe. Looks wonderful.

  18. Enjoyed your post about madeleines. Always a good read here!!

  19. Your mads look delish!!! That is one of my favorite pieces by Proust! How perfect for your post indeed!

  20. Beautiful post and madeleines, Trevor!

  21. Nice presentation for your return to us. The madeleines look perfect, and the literature a propos. Welcome back, Trevor.

  22. Yours turned out beautifully! This was a great recipe to return to FFwD. Wonderful post!

  23. Perfect madeleines and enjoyed your post. And maybe I should try cranberry and ….. I love the Fall spices, they help to get me in the mood for another season, although we are just getting into summer here…we had SUMMER and now it has cooled down 10 or 20 degrees so its only summer here in AZ.

  24. Your madeleines are perfect, as is your quotation of Proust. It sounds like this should NOT be the next recipe you try to teach your sister, though.

  25. This was so much to read! Cranberry apple Madeleines sound pretty darn enticing – and loved reading about Proust!

  26. Oh Trevor, only Proust’s food “memories” could outstrip yours! (And only very slightly at that.) Personally, I think the next big thing in madeleines may be brownie madeleines. That, or madeleine cupcakes? I love your process shots by the way!

  27. Absolutely lovely – poetic and delicious!

  28. Your madeleines look just perfect, what gorgeous photos! Love how these reminded you of your college lit class, how fun! Glad you are back to cooking along with ffwd 🙂

  29. Your pictures made me wish I still had some left.
    Thanks for the memories!

  30. I don’t know about the cookies, but I’m totally changing the name of my band to “The Marauding Spice Trio” so I’ll finally have a reason to wear shredded, fishnet stockings.


  31. I don’t know why I missed commenting on your beautiful madelines last week, because they look absolutely perfect, complete with pouffed tops!

    Really enjoyed your sharing Proust’s narrator’s and YOUR narration of the memories associated with these delicate cookies. If I knew back then about the sensuality of madeleines, I would’ve baked them for every single boy I ever fancied just so they can reminisce about me in that deliciously romanticized way every time they bite into one! LOL.

  32. Proust is overrated don’t you think? But it’s just like my babbling on about little “Suzette” when I’m dousing liqueur over them. These are stunning! No more words needed. My chocolate chip (white trash) FFWD madeleines were not worthy of a post.