Sometimes you want your sweet treat to be simple and uncomplicated. Lovely texture, good flavours and that’s it. No fancy additions, cream or icing toppings, fruit, sauces or drizzles. Madeleines fit the bill perfectly. These distinctive shell shaped cakes don’t require a slice to be cut or a fork to eat. Their size is ideal for eating in one sitting, almost like a biscuit but a cake instead! Traditionally baked in a tray with shell like indentations, the madeleine originated in northeastern France either in the 18th or the 19th century depending upon which history you are reading. Like many culinary origins there are conflicting opinions.
There are all sorts of recipe variations for madeleines some using a small amount of almond meal, others lemon zest. This one uses neither of those but still relies on the essential genoise sponge as its base. The eggs and sugar are whipped until they are thick and creamy with the dry ingredients and melted butter folded through the mixture. The result is a light sponge with a buttery taste. Some recipes suggest leaving the batter overnight so that the cakes will rise more. I’m far too impatient for this so I can’t comment on whether it’s worth the wait. In this recipe the addition of Dutch cocoa and some fragrant spice make these a very enjoyable afternoon tea treat. Wrapped in pretty box they would also make a well received gift – perfect for thank-you’s or even for Mother’s Day this coming Sunday. Just be sure to put them in a single layer with baking paper in between layers when you box them.
Chocolate Spice Madeleines
- 100g butter, melted
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons Dutch cocoa
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice (if you don’t have mixed spice you could use just some cinnamon, or add a pinch of allspice or cardamon with the cinnamon)
- 3 large eggs
- 2/3 cup sugar
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius (160 degrees celsius fan forced). Use a little of the melted butter to grease the madeleine tray, lightly dust with flour and then tap the excess flour out. Take care not to over grease and flour the tray as you will end up with this filling in the shell indentations in the finished cake. Some trays with a non stick coating won’t need to be greased. If you don’t have a madeleine tin you could use a traditional patty cake tin, you just need to make sure that the indentations aren’t too deep.
In a small bowl put the flour, baking powder, cocoa and spices. Whisk until combined. With an electric mixer beat the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy and changed in colour. This will take about 5 minutes. Sift the dry ingredients over the egg and sugar mixture and carefully fold them through the egg mixture, taking care not to loose too much of the air from the batter. Slowly pour in the melted butter and fold this through the mixture.
Drop tablespoonfuls of the mixture into the centre of the shell indentations. Don’t over fill the indentations or the cakes will overflow and you will loose the neat edge. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly touched in the centre. Slide the madeleines from the tray and cool on a wire rack.
Madeleines are best eaten on the day they are made but they will keep in an airtight container for a couple of days. Makes approximately 16 madeleines.