Weeknight Cooking

Chocolate Orange Madeleine Cookies

May  9, 2011

Chocolate Orange Madeleine Cookies


When the email came asking for food for the school play potluck dinner, I quickly raised my hand to bring dessert. I just don’t make salad for 25, and besides, cookies fit easily in the incipient’s backpack, so no dropping off of large Pyrex dishes with my name written on the underside in Sharpie for this working mom!

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But I have become a bit bored with my usual offerings, and decided it was time to check the archives for a fresh confection option. When I hit on Cordelia’s Chocolate Orange Madeleine Cookies, I felt deeply excited. First, who doesn’t love a madeleine, especially one served without insipid references to memory? Further this recipe offered me the excuse to finally purchase a bottle of Grand Marnier, which I always imagined was for people who have a great deal of elegant glassware at their disposal, as well as some garments involving chiffon. Last but certainly not least, the recipe seemed to fit the bill on the weeknight cooking front -– two birds!

After coming home with my new bottle of booze, I pulled out all my ingredients and went cheerfully in search of my madeleine pan, which I had a vague memory of seeing when I unpacked after our move to D.C.. Hmm. Where was it? In the baking closet, there were Bundt pans, tube pans, eight-inch pans, cookie trays, and, who knew, the small casserole dish that went missing several weeks ago. No madeleine pan.

Panicked, I began to look in less-explored cookware closets in my house, including one in the home office, where I keep large roasting pans, and where I further discovered my missing cupcake carrier, one Spanish phrase book, the bottom of my ice cream maker and a small red bag containing a black light bulb. At this point I began asking loudly, and not rhetorically, HAS ANYONE SEEN MY MADELEINE PAN??? Friend, it is with deep sadness that I report to you that no one in my family seemed to care one small bit about this tragedy.

Bacon girl did not respond at all. The incipient managed, “No, but I can’t find my cell phone. Do you happen to know where that is?” My husband, after ignoring my wails for several minutes while he replayed a questionable goal in the Chelsea vs. Tottenham match, a well known and much-anticipated sporting event, finally walked around looking in all the places I did before, proclaiming that it “must be somewhere,” then disappearing again.

Well. What, exactly in the hell would I do with this new bottle of Grand Marnier? In my despair, I first mixed up a cocktail (call it Jenny’s Missing Pan Drink: over a large glass of ice, pour one shot of Grand Marnier, the juice of one orange, a tablespoon of yuzu syrup and a dash of Angostura bitters, and seltzer.) 

Then suddenly, mid sip, an idea was born: what if I mixed up the dough for this recipe, but poured the results in a mini muffin pan, greased and sugared just as Cordelia instructs, instead?

So it began: I put together my dry ingredients as my butter and eventually sugar got rocking in the Kitchen Aid, continuing with the rest of the instructions almost to the letter, but using a scant half teaspoon of salt rather than a dash, because this is what my heart told me to do. 

I filled my muffin tin holes three-quarters of the way, being mindful not to overfill them. In a mini muffin tin, this recipe takes exactly ten minutes at 360 degrees (really 360? Okay, whatever), but if you use the madeleine pan, check them after 13 minutes. Further, if you are making these treats my way, they only need to sit in the pan for 3 or 4 minutes, not fifteen, before you turn them out.

Friends, this is a most exquisite dessert, especially given the minimal effort here. The orange zest, a real boon ingredient to any baking, I think, and the liquor, which is more than subtle but not at all a hammer, make an elegant match with the melted chocolate you’ve tossed into the batter. Dusted with a bit of powdered sugar, these are sophisticated, pretty little additions to the table of inevitable brownies and chocolate chip cookies you are bound to find at the buffet. 

Make this immediately, in either pan of your choosing, and be very glad you have an entire bottle of Grand Marnier on hand to repeat the recipe again soon.

  1. Heat the oven to 360 F degrees.
  2. Put the butter in the mixer bowl and whip on high speed for 2 min.
  3. Add the sugar and the orange zest, and keep mixing for another minute or so on high speed.
  4. Add the eggs one by one. Add another one only after the previous one is well mixed.
  5. Add the salt, vanilla and the grand marnier and mix for a little longer.
  6. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and the baking powder to a separate bowl. Add to the mixer bowl, while mixing on low speed, in 3 batches. Though every time mix only until the flour is just incorporated, so the dough won't get tough.
  7. Cut the chocolate to small pieces. Melt the chocolate in the microwave for about 1-1.5 min until it just starts to melt. Mix well to melt all pieces. Cool for few minutes and then incorporate into the dough with a spatula.
  8. Oil a Madeleine pan and sprinkle a bit of sugar in each indentation (even if you use silicon pan). Put a very full tablespoon of batter in each indentation to just fill it. the dough is pretty sticky, but try to flatten it a bit.
  9. Bake for 12-15 min, until risen (mostly in the middle) and springy.
  10. Let it cool for 15 min and take out the cookies and put on a plate with the bottom side (shell-like) up. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
  11. Enjoy.

By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, covers Congress for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook.

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Written by: Jestei

The ratio of people to cake is too big.


Auguste N. May 26, 2013
I bought a bottle of the very lovely Grand Marnier a month ago. It compelled me to purchase two proper Madeleine pans from a local baking supplier. I used to use mini cupcake pans to bake my "Madeleines" in. I have used your recipe three times so far. My last batch this afternoon, did not last more than a day. Everyone loved it. Thank you for the very lovely story and the recipe.
Author Comment
Jestei May 26, 2013
thank you SO much for reminding me of this recipe. i want to make them again. (i STILL haven't found that pan) Glad you enjoyed!!
the M. August 4, 2011
To say that these are good is an understatement. I have always wanted Madeleine pans (for obvious reasons) and Williams Sonoma had them on sale so I picked up two and made these. I can't stop eating them.

Some notes - I made them gluten free using shauna aherns blend (1 part starch to 2 parts flour by weight) http://glutenfreegirl.com/gluten-free-whole-grain-muffins/

I used tapioca for starch and rice, millet and chestnut flour for rice. I also did not have any semisweet flour on hand so I used unsweetened chocolate bar which gave them a really rich chocolate taste.

I hope I don't eat them all before my husband gets home . . . .

Thanks for the recipe!
tmmurphy May 15, 2011
If I recall correctly, Julia Child said it was perfectly appropriate to bake Madeleines in a mini-cupcake pan but then they were to be called "Commercy Cupcakes". It's all good if you have Julia's imprimatur.
boulangere May 15, 2011
Oh, love this.
Author Comment
Jestei May 21, 2011
i JUST saw this. hilarious.
KitchenKim May 10, 2011
Once making these delectable Madeleines, what is the best way to store them? After a day or two in my plastic container, they were soggy. What are your thoughts everyone?
Author Comment
Jestei May 10, 2011
Hm mine did not last that long! Can the hive weigh in?
boulangere May 11, 2011
Were they at all warm when you put them away? If so, they could have steamed themselves soft. Also, if they were a bit underbaked, they can go soggy easily.
Amyrinco May 19, 2011
Seems every madeleine recipe I see mentions they last only one day (maybe that's because they don't stick around longer to have any real data?).
mcs3000 May 10, 2011
Jenny, this post reminded me of that great story you wrote in the Times about snack time never ending. I've never made madeleines, but I do have Grand Marnier. Thanks for the two-fer: cocktail + madeleines. Btw: I bought GM a couple of years ago for @chefgwen's cranberry-orange compote. It's become a cherished dish on the Thanksgiving menu: http://penandfork.com/recipes/cranberry-orange-compote.
Author Comment
Jestei May 10, 2011
divine. and i am forever tortured by snack requests!!!!!
boulangere May 11, 2011
So I could actually accomplish something, I was known to put a CLOSED sign on the kitchen door. That may have been the first word my son & daughter learned to read. Both are now in college and neither has darkened an analyst's door, so I don't feel any guiltier now than I did then.
boulangere May 9, 2011
I bought madeleine pans when I was a graduate student in the language Proust wrote in. It was easily 15 years before I used them because on what passed for my salary, once rent was paid and the newest required tower of books bought, ingredients for madeleines were a gleam in my eye. I know I used them a couple of times for (also) a dinner at my children's school where I also taught French, so was practically shamed into making them. I moved them a few times more, and finally on this last move, I did some serious purging. I can say with no regret whatsoever that I donated those little dears to the thrift shop, and hope they are making someone very happy as we speak. Life is too short to be too perfect; I have stacks of mini muffin pans, in which I am more than happy to try your method of Cordelia's creation. Perhaps after a Jenny's Missing Pan Drink.
Author Comment
Jestei May 10, 2011
what a lovely story. i read it three times. and i made that drink again last night so cheers to you!
boulangere May 10, 2011
If only I'd thought outside the mold, as TibbyBee did. I might still have them. They'd certainly have been more productive.
TiggyBee May 11, 2011
If only I had thought outside the mold on purpose...
boulangere May 11, 2011
I might have to scour the second-hand stores for replacements. You are just too clever, TiggyBee.
TiggyBee May 9, 2011
Here's where I admit to my fancy-looking ice cube tray (that I use for parties) is in fact a madeleine pan. I never would have known this, had yours not gone missing and me being curious as to what one looks like. Thanks Jenny!! : ) xox
boulangere May 9, 2011
"Fancy-looking ice cube tray," BRILLIANT. How I wish I'd thought of that; I might still have my madeleine pans.
Author Comment
Jestei May 10, 2011
so your pan is used as an ice cube tray? divine.
phyllis May 9, 2011
Many decades ago when I was 19, I went to Paris for the first time. I was young, idealistic and madly in love with Proust and James Joyce. I couldn't cook then but I bought a Madeline pan that I schlepped all over Europe and back to NYC. It took me 10 years to bake Madelines. Now I bake them once or twice a year. However, these sound so delicious, I may bake them more often!!! Thanks Jenny and Cordelia!!!
Author Comment
Jestei May 10, 2011
how sweet! i hope you like the recipe.
healthierkitchen May 9, 2011
Another great post and a great recipe! I have two Madeleine pans, one non- stick and one old fashioned, that I used to use and haven't in so long that I will have to see if mine are mia as well! I bought them when my daughter, Madeleine, was born 16 years ago and used them for the first few years on her birthday. A little cutesy, I know. Haven't done it in probably ten years though. She would love these chocolate ones so I will save the recipe until her birthday next April by which time I hope I will find both my pans and my resolve to bake!
KitchenKim May 10, 2011
When I gave birth to my daughter Madeline five years ago , I also presented the Madeline pan for her as well. We just made our first batch together :). Enjoy!
Author Comment
Jestei May 10, 2011
i think that is a darling idea and i would do the same thing if my kid had that great name.
Victoria C. May 9, 2011
Have you ever shopped at LaCuisine in Old Town, Alexandria? It is an amazing cookware shop. You can check it out AND get a new madeleine pan!

I prefer Mathilde Orange XO Cognac to Grand Marnier, so if you ever run out of Grand Marnier (good luck), give it a try.
Author Comment
Jestei May 10, 2011
i have. my only complaint is that i could not find high end chocolate for baking there. can you make this happen there so i can go back :) and thanks for the cognac suggestions the GM is almost gone.
MelanieCurry May 9, 2011
I have two madeleine pans. They are in the basement and still in the original box. I've used the pans once but after reading this recipe, sounds like they need to come out the box! Thanks!
Author Comment
Jestei May 10, 2011
you and kimbiew need to get together, clearly!
Kimbiew May 9, 2011
I own two madeleine pans, they are both dusty - living in the basement. But I have never made madeleins, I think the time may have come, thanks for the recipe.
Author Comment
Jestei May 10, 2011
see above, how funny! i hope you make them.
Bevi May 9, 2011
The baking closet stuck in my craw, but the upside is I do not have to buy another specialty pan!
Author Comment
Jestei May 10, 2011
no you do not.
Sagegreen May 9, 2011
Great story, wonderful recipe. I have to confess I have mini meltdowns hunting for specialty pans. During a futile search sometimes I can't distinguish between one I actually bought vs. one I just wanted to buy.
Author Comment
Jestei May 9, 2011
this happens to me in more areas than baking pans
lorigoldsby May 9, 2011
the worst is the springform pan dance...where you are trying to find the correct bottom to fit a band!! many a meltdown....I'm ashamed to say.
lorigoldsby May 9, 2011
you may have talked me OUT of buying a madeline pan--I have 6 mini muffin tins....but I love the pretty little ridges, but since I do not have a "baking closet" and have cooking implements stored all over the house (thank you for admitting to this!)....I may just skip buying the new pan--this recipe sounds so good--they might not even miss the shape. Instead of madelines, I'll call them jennies and say it's the newest trend in desserts!
Author Comment
Jestei May 9, 2011
i totally approve of this plan
ChefJune May 9, 2011
Lori: do buy a Madeleine pan (get the nonstick). The mini muffin pans will work, but won't ever be nearly as pretty as those lovely scallop-shaped confections.
ChefJune May 9, 2011
I have three. Nonstick, but you still have to butter them VERY well. I LOVE Madeleines, and I love to play with making unusual flavors. Our favorite is a Cappuccino Madeleine. Hmmm. Madeleines would be a great topic for a contest, wouldn't it?
Great idea!!
Author Comment
Jestei May 9, 2011
i think so. i would love to see what people come up with.
lorigoldsby May 9, 2011
great idea for a Madeline contest, then i would have to take your advice and get a new pan! work, work, work, the things we'll do for food.52!
Burnt O. May 9, 2011
Wait, wait, wait, a minute... You have a BAKING CLOSET?? I Soooo want to be you!
Author Comment
Jestei May 9, 2011
OK before you get too excited: i had a book case with storage space below that i turned into a kitchen cabinet when i moved to DC because my kitchen here has literally no storage space. so i turned the bottom part into the place for baking pans. it's nothing special. i promise you.
shelley_handler May 9, 2011
No missing pans, just new delivery methods. (Corollary to the kitchen maxim: "There are no mistakes, just new recipes". (If the souffle falls, it's a pudding...)
Author Comment
Jestei May 9, 2011
this is a great life philosophy.
These will be just the ticket for a potluck I'm going to this weekend! Thanks Cordelia for a great recipe! And thanks Jenny for putting it in the spotlight this morning! And equally important, thanks Jenny for such a validating, funny posting. I moved 6 YEARS ago, and I'm still looking for a few things. I recently went through some little-used cabinets in the garage and found all kinds of things I had completely forgotten about (and that had no business being in the garage). It was like having Christmas in April.
Author Comment
Jestei May 9, 2011
it is maddening. really isn't it?
JudyH May 9, 2011
May I recommend against ever buying those vacuum storage bags? Sure, they save space, but you will never find them again after they have been safely stowed in the basement (also known as the black hole).
Midge May 9, 2011
You've inspired me to actually use the madeleine pan that has somehow survived my many moves. And thank you and Cordelia for not mentioning that over-referenced reference--a first!
Author Comment
Jestei May 9, 2011
i am so glad!!