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Pumpkin Spice Madeleines

Pumpkin Spice Madeleines

These pumpkin spice madeleines are tender, shell-shaped sponge cakes with the flavor of Fall.  They are perfect when served with a cup of coffee or tea.

Basket of pumpkin spice madeleins dusted with cinnamon sugar

There isn’t much that feels more luxurious than a few pumpkin spice madeleines, a hot cup of coffee, and the New York Times crossword puzzle on a Sunday afternoon.

What Are Madeleines?

Madeleines are small French teacakes with a shell shape on one side and a hump on the other.  The bigger the hump, the better the teacake.  A significant hump is the mark of a well-crafted madeleine.  They’re made from a buttery Genoise batter and are best eaten the day they’re baked.

These little cakes are thought to have originated in the mid 17th century in Lorraine, France.  Although there are many rumors on whom actually made them first, the theory about a servant for the Duke of Lorraine seems to be most popular. 

As the story goes, A housemaid, Madeleine Paulmier, filled in for the Duke’s chef who quit just before a large reception.  She made little tea cakes that she grew up making and eating what was familiar to her. The Duke, his daughter, and son-in-law adored the little cakes so much that they insisted the cakes be named for the housemaid.   They also introduced the madeleines to the court of Versailles and eventually the rest of France.

Marcel Proust spoke of madeleines in his autobiography.  In it he reminiscences about sipping tea mixed with madeleine crumbs on Sunday mornings in Combray, France.  His tales of fond childhood memories of tea and madeleines helped revitalize the madeleines’ popularity.

Is It A Cake Or Is It A Cookie?

Talk about a million-dollar question!  

Technically speaking these are made from a spongecake genoise batter, thus they are a cake.

However, the small size of madeleines makes them more of a cookie.  However you like to refer to them, they are delicious!

  • Too much flour will make the madeleines too dry.
  • Fold the flour into the butter and eggs and be sure not to overmix it.  We don’t want to develop too much gluten, which will make the cake tough.
  • Allow the batter to chill.  This will help the madeleines rise and have a fluffy texture.  But don’t chill the batter too long or the butter will solidify and the cakes won’t rise.  30 minutes up to 1 hour is the sweet spot.
  • Use butter to grease the molds.  Butter helps the cakes to brown and get the lovely crispy edges. 
  • If you don’t have a madeleines pan, mini muffin pans also work well, but you won’t get the buttery, crisp edges.

A madeleine pan full of pumpkin spice madeleins dusted with cinnamon sugar

What Ingredients Are Needed?

  • Unsalted butter – this is one of those recipes that needs real butter, not margarine or shortening. Real butter is responsible for the moist and spongy texture of the cake.
  • Eggs – room temperature
  • Granulated sugar and brown sugar – the brown sugar compliments the pumpkin pie spice
  • All-purpose flour and baking powder
  • Pumpkin puree – don’t use ‘pumpkin pie filling’
  • Pumpkin pie spice 
  • Superfine sugar and cinnamon – this will be used to coat the hot madeleines.  If you don’t have superfine sugar, you can either use granulated sugar or put the granulated sugar into a food processor and pulse a few times to crush the crystals a bit.  Don’t pulse it too much or you’ll make powdered sugar.

How Do I Make Pumpkin Spice Madeleines?

  1. Brown the butter and allow it to come to room temperature.
  2. Beat together the eggs and both the granulated sugar and brown sugar until creamy.
  3. Add the pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, flour, and baking powder.
  4. Chill the batter.
  5. Butter the madeleines mold and spoon the batter into each mold.
  6. Bake, cool, and then dust with powdered sugar.

A closeup of pumpkin spice madeleins dusted with cinnamon sugar

Tips And Tricks

  • Take the time to brown the butter AND allow it to cool.  The browned butter adds a nuttiness to the pumpkin flavor, but too hot and it will deflate and scramble the eggs.
  • Beating the eggs for such a long time (8 minutes) helps the madeleines to rise.  Also, use room temperature eggs.  Cold eggs won’t get the volume needed for this recipe.
  • Measure the flour accurately.  Too much flour will make the madeleines too dry.
  • Fold the flour into the butter and eggs and be sure not to overmix it.  We don’t want to develop too much gluten, which will make the cake tough.
  • Allow the batter to chill.  This will help the madeleines rise and have a fluffy texture.  But don’t chill the batter too long or the butter will solidify and the cakes won’t rise.  30 minutes up to 1 hour is the sweet spot.
  • Use butter to grease the molds.  Butter helps the cakes to brown and get the lovely crispy edges. 
  • If you don’t have a madeleines pan, mini muffin pans also work well, but you won’t get the buttery, crisp edges.

If you liked this recipe, here are a few more cookie recipes to try:

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A closeup of pumpkin spice madeleins dusted with cinnamon sugar

Pumpkin Spice Madeleines


  • Author: Millie Brinkley
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Chilling time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 20 cookies 1x

Description

These pumpkin spice madeleines are tender, shell-shaped sponge cakes with the flavor of Fall.  They are perfect when served with a cup of coffee or tea.


Ingredients

Scale

½ cup unsalted butter + 2 tablespoons, divided

2 large eggs, room temperature

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup brown sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ cup superfine granulated sugar

⅛ cup cinnamon


Instructions

Melt ½ cup of butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Cook, stirring constantly with a whisk until the butter starts to foam.

Keep whisking the butter and continue to cook until the butter takes on a deep golden brown color, has dark flecks, and smells nutty – about 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together the eggs and both brown and granulated sugars until smooth and creamy – about 8 minutes.

Add the pumpkin and beat until combined.

Use a spatula to fold in the flour, pumpkin pie spice, and baking powder.  Use a light touch.  We don’t want to develop too much gluten, which will toughen the cake.

Pour in the cooled, melted butter and fold into the mixture until well combined.

Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and brush the insides of 2 madeleine pans.

Scoop 1 tablespoon of the batter into each mold, filling each one about ¾ of the way full.

Place the pans in the top ⅓ of the oven.

Bake in the preheated oven until the madeleines are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the thickest part comes out clean – about 15 minutes.  Take care not to overbake.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl stir together the superfine sugar and cinnamon.

When the madeleines are done, flip the madeleine pan to remove the cookies or if necessary, use a spoon to gently unmold them.

While still warm, roll each madeleine in the sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Place on a wire rack to cool completely before serving.

  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: French

Keywords: pumpkin spice madeleines, French desserts, madeleines, madeleines recipes, teacakes, pumpkin spice

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