In the precise art of baking, one of the most important ingredients is time. Such is the case with chef and cronut inventor Dominique Ansel, who recently released his MasterClass on French Pastry Fundamentals ($90), which includes elaborate projects like making croissants from scratch… as well as more entry-level recipes like these mini madeleines.

Ansel insists that you make the batter a day ahead to allow the baking powder to rest, resulting in a light and fluffy dessert. The chef waxes poetic about his madeleines, which are served to order at his bakeries, because they’re only soft for a few glorious minutes. When you bite into the hot cakes, he says, a puff of steam comes out “like the madeleine is taking its last breath.” Check out the recipe for Ansel’s mini madeleines below.

dominique ansel’s mini madeleines

(Makes 100 mini madeleines)

Cook Time: 15 minutes one day before; 15 minutes per batch the day of

Ingredients:

  • 115 grams (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter (84% butterfat)
  • 15 grams (1 tablespoon) dark brown sugar
  • 15 grams (2 teaspoons) honey
  • 100 grams (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1 gram (1/2 teaspoon) kosher salt
  • 120 grams (1 cup) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 4 grams (1/2 teaspoon) baking powder
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • zest of half a lemon
  • zest of half an orange
  • nonstick cooking spray, as needed
  • confectioners’ sugar, for serving

Equipment:

  • spatula
  • microplane (for grating zests)
  • uncut piping bag
  • nonstick mini madeleine pan (we love Silpat)
  • small sieve

Directions:

1. Day 1: Make batter. In a medium pot, melt the butter, brown sugar, and honey over low heat. Stir gently with a heatproof spatula to ensure nothing burns. Keep the mixture warm over very low heat, or reheat if necessary.

2. In a large bowl, combine the granulated sugar, salt, flour, and baking powder and mix well with a whisk. Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the eggs one by one, whisking to incorporate each before adding the next.

3. When the eggs are fully incorporated and the batter is smooth, slowly whisk in the butter mixture. Whisk in the lemon and orange zests. The batter will still be runny and similar in consistency to cake batter. Cover with plastic wrap pressed directly onto the surface of the batter to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate overnight to rest.

4. Day 2: Pipe, bake, and serve. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) for conventional or 350°F (175°C) for convection.

5. Using a rubber spatula, place 2 large scoops of batter in a piping bag so that it is one-third full. Push the batter down toward the tip of the bag.

6. Cut an opening about 1/2 inch (1.25 centimeters) straight across the tip of the bag.

7. Hold the nonstick cooking spray about 4 inches (10 centimeters) away from a nonstick mini madeleine pan and spray evenly in all the cavities.

8. Holding the piping bag at a 90-degree angle about 1/2 inch (1.25 centimeters) above the pan, pipe the madeleine batter into the cavities so that it fills each about three-quarters of the way to the top.

9. Place a rimmed sheet pan upside down on the oven rack, then place the mold on top and bake the madeleines for about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes on the center rack. When you see the batter puff up in the center, rotate the mold 180 degrees. Bake for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes more, until the sides of the madeleines are golden blonde and the center has set.

10. Unmold immediately. Bang the corner or sides of the madeleine pan against your work surface so that the fresh madeleines drop out.

11. Using a small sieve, sprinkle confectioners’ sugar evenly over the fresh-baked madeleines. Eat immediately (do not wait for more than even a few minutes!).

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(Recipe, photo, and video via Dominique Ansel/MasterClass)