Browned Butter Espresso Madeleines are the perfect little snack for your afternoon tea. The buttery rich sponge with a nutty undertone is then dipped in an espresso glaze and sprinkled with chopped toasted walnuts. I don’t think you will stop at one!
These French little treats are elevated by using browned butter which imparts the most beautiful nutty under tones to the batter. Repeat after me: These are delicious. Like utterly more-ish.
They are tiny little morsels of perfection - literally two bites and it’s gone. That's why you can do more than just one!
What are Madeleines?
They are a light buttery sponge baked in a shell mould typically eaten in the afternoon with tea or coffee. Madeleines originate from France and there’s often a deliberation as to whether they are cookies or cake.
But they are definitely cake - just tiny little ones. And I think that’s their appeal, I find them so visually cute to look at! Left plain, dusted in icing sugar or dipped in glaze or chocolate, there are many variations for this sweet treat.
You can read more about their history here.
Why did I pick this flavour combination?
It’s currently Autumn and the flavours that spring to mind are always, nutty, rich, full flavours that encapsulate this time of year. Browned butter is pretty much on repeat during this season and I knew they would be a factor in these madeleines. (Actually who am I kidding - since I learnt of the impact that browned butter can have on the taste of baked goods, I use it all the time!)
And as for coffee and walnuts ... well they’re a match made in heaven when it comes to flavour pairings. Think walnut and coffee cake (hhhmmmm I might just need to make one of those soon.)
And so my browned butter espresso madeleines were born!
The Ins and Outs of Madeleines
Alrighty. There are a couple of points that I need to raise before we carry on. Yes they are tiny but you need to follow these important steps to get the signature shape and texture that makes them Madeleines..
- Buttering the madeleines pan. Melt a tablespoon of butter and using a pastry brush work that butter into all the nooks of the shell mould. They dust lightly all over with flour and tap out the excess. This helps give the outside of the madeleines a crispy exterior but also stops them from sticking. Very important!
- Whipping the eggs and sugar. Normally when making a sponge batter we beat the butter and sugar together to aerate the batter. But with madeleines you whip the eggs and sugar for a solid 5 minutes to really get some volume going. Then you add the milk and vanilla bean paste, and sifted dry ingredients mixing carefully until just combined. It's at this point, right at the end that we add the melted butter and mix it in. (Browned melted butter at that!)
- Letting the batter rest. This is another important step. Once you have finished making the batter, cover your bowl with cling wrap and refrigerate. Between 2-3 hours is ideal but overnight if you want to have fresh madeleines for breakfast (totally acceptable I might add!)
- Filling the moulds. You need to place a tablespoon of the batter in the deepest part of the shell mould. And don’t flatten it out. The heat of the oven will do that whilst also allowing the signature ‘mound’ on the back of the madeleine to rise.
- When to eat them. They are best served on the same day. Within an hour or two of making them. I find that even if you store them in an airtight container, they can go quite dry. The downside to baking something so small. But the upside is that you have the perfect excuse to eat them right away. And dunking them in your coffee is a sure fire way of enjoying them.
And there you have it. The key points to making these delicacies. Follow these points and you’ll be on the fast track to successfully making yourself these beauties.
If you fancy other French sweet treats, try out these:
Earl Grey French Toast with Blackberry Jam. Recipe found here.
Roasted Strawberry Crepes. Recipe found here.
Browned Butter Espresso Madeleines
- 100 g browned butter, melted but cool, plus an extra tablespoon to grease the mould
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 100 g caster sugar
- 1 tbsp milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 110 g plain flour (all-purpose)
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp fine salt
- 1 tbsp espresso granules
- 3 tbsp hot water
- 240 g powdered icing sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla bean paste
- 1 tsp milk
- 50 g walnuts, toasted and chopped finely
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt your butter. Continue to cook until the butter is golden brown and has a nutty fragrance. This takes about 4-5 minutes. Remember the the butter turns very quickly from golden to burnt. Remove from the heat, pour into a small bowl, and cool to room temperature.
- Into the bowl of an electric mixer, place the eggs and sugar and whip on high for about five minutes until the mixture is thick and pale.
- Decrease to low speed and add the milk and vanilla extract. Mix till combined.
- In a separate bowl, add flour, baking powder and salt and whisk to combine. Add to the bowl of the electric stand mixer and mix on low speed until combined.
- Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and add the browned butter. Using a spatular, fold the butter into the mixture. Take care not to over mix. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 hours to let the batter rest (or overnight if needed).
- 30 minutes before baking, pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Using a pastry brush, generously brush melted butter into the moulds of two Madeleine pans, and dust with a little flour (knocking out the excess). Place pans in the fridge until ready to use.
- Once the oven is at temperature, remove the batter from the fridge and one Madeleine pan. Fill the deepest part of each well with 1 level tablespoon of batter. Do not level the batter out. Remove the other pan from the fridge and fill it in the same way.
- Place in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, check after 8 minutes and rotate the pans. They are ready when the ‘humps’ have risen, and they‘re browned on the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for a couple of minutes before removing them from the pans and allowing them to cool. (Tip: give the pans a little jiggle, and they should pop out. If they stick, run a knife around the edges to loosen them.)
- Add espresso granules and hot water to a small bowl and mix until the coffee is combined.
- In a separate bowl, add the icing sugar, vanilla bean paste and 2 tablespoons of coffee and whisk the ingredients until a smooth and drippy glaze forms. If the mixture is too thick, add a teaspoon at a time of milk (or more coffee if you want a stronger taste) and whisk till combined. Or, if too thin, you can thicken it by adding a ¼ cup of icing sugar and whisking until the desired consistency has been reached. The icing mixture should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Dip the madeleine's shell side into the espresso glaze until coated, and then dip the bottom half of the madeleine into the chopped walnuts. Place on a sheet of baking paper until set. Serve immediately.
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.