While commonly called cookies, these vanilla bean madeleines are small and delicate butter cakes with light, crispy edges. Delicious with coffee or tea!
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About Vanilla Bean Madeleines
Perfect for the holidays but ideal for everyday brunch, these vanilla bean madeleines are tiny little sponge cakes of subtle vanilla flavor. They’re perfect on their own or dusted with powdered sugar, drizzled with frosting, or dipped in chocolate.
What are madeleines?
Although commonly thought of (and called) a cookie, a madeleine is a very small butter cake with light, crispy edges. The recipe originated in France and is made from a sponge-like batter and baked in a shell-shaped mold to create its trademark look.
Do you have to chill the dough?
This particular recipe calls for chilling the cookie dough for 30 minutes.
I know it can be frustrating to put your baking on hold, but when it comes to cookies, chilling the dough is totally worth the impact it has on your baking.
In this case, chilling the dough (and letting it rest) will ultimately help the madeleines bake taller and have more fluffy texture, which is exactly what you’re looking for with classic madeleines.
Vanilla Bean Paste vs Vanilla Extract
To keep it simple, vanilla extract is made from soaking vanilla beans in a mixture of water and ethyl alcohol and has typically a dark, watery texture. Vanilla bean paste is a mixture of vanilla extract and crushed vanilla seeds (vanilla bean powder), making its texture much thicker than the former.
However, while vanilla bean paste tends to be a favorite for many bakers, vanilla extract is by far the more common ingredient to find in a pantry.
And that begs the question: can you substitute vanilla bean paste for vanilla extract (or vice versa)?
Yes, you totally can!
You can substitute an equal portion of vanilla bean paste for vanilla extract and the same applies for substituting vanilla extract for vanilla bean paste. The flavor should be very comparable, but without the vanilla bean paste, you will miss out on having tiny flecks of vanilla laced throughout the madeleines.
How long are madeleines good for?
Madeleines have a habit of losing their moisture quickly, so if you like their freshly baked texture, I recommend eating them within 24 hours after baking. If stored in a sealed container on the counter, they might last up to two days.
Beyond two days, the madeleines will have likely dried out and will be very crisp – but that’s not always a bad thing. Madeleines go very well with tea or coffee, and dunking a madeleine in either drink would give it a nice zap of moisture and flavor.
Can you freeze madelines?
Due to their delicate nature and finicky moisture, I can’t recommend freezing madeleines. It’d be best to enjoy these little cakes while they’re still fresh.
Notes & tips for vanilla madeleines
- Before making these little cakes, make sure you have the iconic shell-shaped madeleine pan.
More sweet cookie recipes
How to make vanilla bean madeleines
This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.
Step 1 – Get started by whisking together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl, then set it aside.
Step 2 – Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer + large bowl), whip together the egg and sugar until thick and fluffy.
Step 3 – Blend in the vanilla bean paste, almond extract, and the dry ingredients.
Step 4 – Finish by mixing in the melted and cooled butter.
Step 5 – Generously spray a madeleine pan with cooking spray, then add about 1.5 tablespoons of batter into each cavity.
Step 6 – Bake!
Step 7 – Serve and enjoy!
Vanilla Bean Madeleines
- Drop mixer speed to low and blend in vanilla bean paste and almond extract until incorporated, about 1 minute.
- Keeping mixer speed on low, slowly scoop in the dry ingredients, about 1/3 cup at a time. Mix until dry ingredients incorporate and there are minimal clumps, about 2-3 minutes.
- Keeping mixer speed on low, bend in the melted and cooled butter until just incorporated, about 1-2 minutes.
- Cover mixing bowl and refrigerate batter for 30 minutes.
- Scoop up about 1.5 tablespoons of madeleine dough and gently place it into one of the cavities of the pan. Avoid tapping the pan or manipulating the dough too much; you want it to remain light and airy. Repeat this step until all the dough has been used.
- Bake for 10 minutes or until a tester toothpick comes out clean with no crumbs.
- Allow madeleines to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely. If desired, decorate vanilla bean madeleines with sprinkles, frosting, or powdered sugar.
- Serve immediately.
I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.