Venus Madeleines


Gold and butter. Botticelli and madeleines. Perhaps unusual combinations at first… but they go together beautifully.


These small but decadent, lemony little French cakes, gilded like Venus’ shell in The Birth of Venus, are just as sumptuous (albeit in a smaller dose) as the Renaissance masterpiece itself.

Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus

This little project would probably be too cutesy… if they weren’t gold. Gold is never cutesy. Only awesome.


If you’re really dorky like me, you’ll even get a kick out of the painterly way you buttered and floured the pan. (Has anyone else figured out that trick? Melt your butter and brush it on, then flour! So much easier than swiping a stick of butter unevenly all over the place.)


Madeleines are also an excellent secret baking weapon. They are the perfect things to bring to a party, because they are unusual, but are also easy to make. (The French name probably helps with the impressiveness factor.) You don’t even have to wait for butter to come to room temperature, since you melt it. All you need is a madeleine pan.


And luster dust? Oh my goodness. What gorgeous, fun stuff.


And, by the way, next time I make these, I’m going all Mediterranean — blood orange flavored instead of lemon!

Venus Madeleines
Adapted from Nicole’s recipe
Makes about 24 cookies

2/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup melted butter, cooled
2 eggs
1 cup powdered sugar
Citrus flavoring: 1/2 tsp orange OR lemon juice or extract; 1/2 tsp orange OR lemon zest
Almond flavoring: 1/2 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a madeleine pan.

Sift together flour and baking powder in a small bowl; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat eggs, extract or juice, and (if applicable) zest on high speed for 5 minutes. Gradually beat in powdered sugar. Beat about five minutes, until thick.

Gently fold in flour mixture, then melted butter. Mix with a spatula until smooth. Spoon the mixture into the cups, filling about 3/4 full. Bake 8-10 minutes, until edges are light brown. Cool in the pan about 1-2 minutes. Loosen cookies with a knife, then invert pan on a rack. When cool, decorate as follows, or simply sprinkle tops with powdered sugar.

About 1/4 tsp almond extract
Luster dust, in super gold
Thin craft brush

Pour extract into a small bowl. In a separate bowl, measure about a bit less than 1/4 tsp luster dust. Dip craft brush into the extract, then work liquid into the edges of luster dust, creating a thin paint. Dab luster paint onto the edges of the top (shell-shape side) of the madeleine. Allow a few minutes to dry. I found this video helpful.


5 thoughts on “Venus Madeleines

  1. Pingback: Art Baking: Venus Madeleines | The Art History Blog
  2. Pingback: Madeleines + A Trip to Paris

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