Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Vanilla Bean and Thyme Madeleines

Madeleines are one of my favorite ways to have cake: they're shaped like cookies, which makes them like a portable version of a cake, and they're so toothsome and fluffy, all at once. I realized recently to my surprise that I have never actually posted a madeleine recipe publicly before, even though I've been making them for years and years! So, for my Anthology Magazine Blog post this month, I decided that this situation must be remedied.

I've made madeleines in so many different flavors before--saffron, berry, pumpkin, etc. etc.--but for my first public post, I wanted to go with something much more classic. Because sometimes, you don't have to mess with a good thing. So here they are: vanilla bean and thyme madeleines. My base recipe also uses a bit of coconut oil, for just a hint of floral aroma from the coconut underlying the cake. You can find the recipe on the Anthology Blog here. (All blog posts that have Anthology recipes will be updated one month after the initial posting with the recipe here on desserts for breakfast.)

My favorite moment with these madeleines is when I took a box of them into work, and offered one to a particularly prominent scientist in my department. While most people focus on the pretty, scalloped side of madeleines (versus the humpy backside -- which reminds me, this would be my totally non-classy theme song for madeleines :P), my colleague took a madeleine and flipped it scalloped side down. Holding it sideways, he looked at me with a smile and said, "Look! it's like a little boat! Toot toot!" while scooting the madeleine over imaginary waves. When I grow up, I want to maintain that sort of child-like playfulness in creativity and imagination!

Also, I picked these "wild" roses from my backyard. I sort of love how delicately imperfect they were, so fragrant but at the same time, completely fleeting in their beauty.


In a few weeks, I'm headed to Hawai'i (Oahu and Kauai), ostensibly for a work-related conference! I am. so. excited. If you have any recommendations for places to see or eat on those islands, please leave them in the comments below! Thank you!

While cupcakes might be the most popular form of single-serving cakes, my personal favorite miniature-cakes are madeleines--a cake in delicately-scalloped cookie form. I love them for their startling simplicity: no glaze or frosting is necessary. All one needs for a beautifully delicious madeleine is quality base ingredients and a good cup of afternoon tea to enjoy them with.

For these madeleines, I wanted to strip down the dessert to its most essential ingredients, because sometimes simplest is the best: vanilla bean and thyme. Vanilla bean brings a classical sweetness to these madeleines, which is balanced by woodsy, savory notes from the fresh thyme leaves. My go-to base madeleine recipe also uses coconut oil, which gives these cakes just the barest whiff of coconut--you know, for that little, mysterious bit of je ne sais quoi.

Vanilla Bean and Thyme Madeleines

Makes about 48 madeleines

10 tbsp butter
½ cup coconut oil
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
¼ cup fresh thyme leaves

Melt the butter and coconut oil. Cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract. Slice open the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the eggs. Reserve the shell of the bean for future use. Beat the eggs on medium high for about 5 minutes, until very light and fluffy.

While the eggs are beating, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a separate bowl. Mix in the fresh thyme leaves.

Once the eggs have whipped and have nearly tripled in volume, fold the flour mixture into the eggs in two additions, combining well after each addition. Then fold in the melted butter and coconut oil until well-combined, but do not overmix. Cover the batter and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Meanwhile, place the rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 400°F. Butter and flour the madeleine pans. Scoop about a tablespoon of chilled batter into each madeleine mold well. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately turn the madeleines out onto a wire rack to cool. Let cool completely before serving. The madeleines are best eaten the day they are made.


  1. These look so good! Love the use of thyme in baking.

    FoodNerd x

  2. These are so pretty! I love madeleines. As for Hawaii, you need to check out Leonard's Malasadas in Honolulu. They're the best!

  3. Warm Vanilla SugarMay 7, 2014 at 3:33 PM

    This is such a unique recipe!! Loving the vanilla-thyme combo!

  4. I love madeleines but I've never attempted them before. I love your vanilla-herb twist!

  5. Carol at Wild Goose TeaMay 7, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    Wonderful still life photos. Just looking at them has been me WANT one of those pans.
    I sell tea and teapots and make recommendations of what tea with what food,
    so these are definitely darling teacakes. I thought they were harder than that. Color me educated!

  6. I'm sorry, but I am not seeing the recipe for this darlings? Thanks,

  7. I love those wild roses and your pretty madeleines. Thyme is one of my favorite herbs to add to desserts. Looking forward to trying your recipe.

    p.s. I have that same gold madeleine baking pan! I love it. I find it too pretty to keep hidden in the cabinet with the other baking pans, so I keep it displayed on a shelf. :)

  8. I really need to get a madeleine tray, these are gorgeous! Love how versatile thyme is. :)

  9. michele @ i-heart-bakingMay 9, 2014 at 11:36 AM

    beautiful photos! can't wait to see pictures from your trip! my husband is from oahu, so we go quite often. must eats: boots & kimo's (for the banana mac nut pancakes), waiola shave ice, sidestreet inn, sasabune (best sushi EVER), he'eia pier general store and deli (best loco moco), and liliha bakery (best chocolate cream puffs, they call them "cocoa puffs"), rainbow drive in for plate lunch, kaka'ako kitchen for casual lunch, kahuku shrimp truck for the best garlic butter shrimp (in north shore, next to the old sugar mill - NOT the one that says "giovanni's"). i actually have a giant list so let me know if you want more!

  10. Oh my goodness I love madeleines! I'll have to try this thyme + vanilla flavour combination, it sounds intriguing. :)

  11. Alan Wong's in Honolulu, don't miss it!! Can be hard to get in, but it is sensational.


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