I have a real soft spot for madeleines. It could be because I have very early memories of eating these dainty little cakes, their light sponginess making them the perfect snack for little hands. The madeleines of my childhood were always plain or lemon flavoured. These days, recipes abound with countless variations of flavours for these little cakes, both sweet and savoury. And I love them all!
One particular variation which I make perhaps a bit too often is with Nutella, another great love of mine from my childhood. Growing up, I was made to believe that Nutella was unhealthy and, anyway, none of my school friends ate Nutella. You see, the “good kids” ate Vegemite so I was usually only given a little sachet of Nutella once in a blue moon as a treat.
Since meeting my husband, well, I don’t think he grew up eating Nutella but a lot of his friends certainly did. I recall one weekend where we were at brunch together and his friends were making themselves large bowls of hot chocolate and slathering thick spoonfuls of Nutella onto their slices of white bread. I watched in amazement, thinking to myself, “Is this really their breakfast?!” It was a revelation for me, a confirmation that the French really do have it right most of the times when it comes to food And since that time, I have been happily tucking into my jar of Nutella at breakfast and even branching out into more gourmet variations from specialty stores, making up for lost opportunities when I was younger.
I am a bit anxious to reveal photos of my madeleines here because my father-in-law has lay claim to making the best madeleines in the family. Once upon a time (yes, I think it was that long ago!), he made his first attempt at baking madeleines and claimed to have produced the most beautifully risen cakes with perfect little humps that no one else in the family had ever achieved, nor been able to replicate since. Alas, he achieved his goal with that one attempt and has since retired from any further baking.
I’m sure it’s all scientific and perhaps somebody out there knows why, but my madeleines sometimes rise a lot, and other times have a rather flat surface.
The recipe here is a basic recipe for plain madeleines; the Nutella is really optional. It is hard to say how many madeleines this recipe produces because madeleine moulds vary so much. I make about 20 madeleines from this recipe, and often make one batch plain and the other batch with Nutella. The batter can be made in advance and should rest for at least 1 hour in the fridge, but you can also leave it there overnight or even for a few days. This means they are perfect for when you have guests over as the batter can be prepared well in advance.