In Search of Fall: Pumpkin Brown Butter Madeleines with Walnuts
One of the hardest things about living in Texas is the anticipation of fall. When September rolls around the kids head back to school, football season is in full swing, and the stores are full of Halloween (and sadly Christmas) goodies. Unfortunately, the weather never seems to get the fall memo in September so we’re faced with 95+ temperatures into October. Summer releases its grip on our state very reluctantly.
So, in an attempt to personally will fall to show itself sooner rather than later by performing fallish activities with zeal,, I dove headlong into baking with pumpkin madeleines.
The fact that the air conditioner was on full blast and I was wearing shorts is neither here nor there.
I think I like madeleines – those lovely French cakes – because my favorite part of a cake or cupcake is the actual cake. Madeleines don’t bother with icing or decorations, they pack all of their punch in one sweet little cake that has the bonus of being pretty thanks entirely to the madeleine mold. You just make the batter, bake them, and poof, as if by magic, you have a beautiful dessert.
On my quest to marry pumpkin with madeleine I looked at a variety of sources including my favorite How To Cook Everything app, the wisdom of Dorie Greenspan, and of course the blogosphere. My final approach, was inspired by Pumpkin Pecan Madeleines from the Pastry Studio and Pumpkin Pecan Madeleines from Supper in Stereo.
Pumpkin Brown Butter Madeleines with Walnuts
These madeleine aren’t too sweet, are heavy with fall spices, and have a surprise crunch from candied walnut bits sprinkled throughout. Serve them with a cup of tea or coffee (even iced) for a little taste of fall just when you need it.
- Difficulty: Easy
- Number of servings: 18-20
- Active time: 40 minutes
- Total time: 3 hours
- Meal type: Dessert
- 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 3/4 c. AP flour
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- pinch of ground ginger
- pinch of ground cloves
- pinch of ground allspice
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
- 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp. vanilla
- 1/4 c. pumpkin
- 1 tsp. unsalted butter
- 1/2 c. finely chopped walnuts
- 4 tsp. brown sugar
- In a small sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter and then continue to cook until it turns golden brown and smells nutty. Strain the browned butter into a bowl through a fine sieve to remove any solids then set in the refrigerator to cool.
- Make the candied nuts. Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat; add the chopped walnuts and saute until golden and fragrant. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and stir until the sugar melts and coats the nuts well. Set aside to cool.
- Butter and flour the madeleine pans, being sure to shake out any excess flour; alternately spray them well with Baker’s Joy or another cooking spray infused with flour.
- In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices.
- In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or in a mixing bowl with a hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugars until batter is thick and falls in ribbons about 5 – 7 minutes in a stand mixer and 10-15 with a hand mixer.
- Add the vanilla and pumpkin to the egg and sugar mixture; whisk to combine.
- Sprinkle a third of the flour over the wet ingredients and use a spatula to gently fold it into the mix. Repeat twice more until all of the flour is incorporated. Repeat with the brown butter in two batches.
- Fold in the nuts.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared madeleine pans filling the wells until they are almost full but have a little room for the madeleines to expand.
- Cover the molds with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-3 hours.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 and bake for 12-16 minutes, rotating the pans half way through to ensure even cooking. The madeleines are done when they spring back to a gentle touch and the edges are nice and brown.
- Move the madeleine pans to a cooling rack and let them sit for 3 minutes. Turn the madeleines out from the pan and let them cool completely.
Recipe for Success
- I use large silicone madeleine molds because they make removing the cakes from the pan oh so much easier. But I still coat them well with Baker’s Joy. You can use metal pans but pay close attention to getting the butter and flour or Baker’s Joy into every groove.
- If you use small madeleine pans you’ll have a lot more little cakes to share. You’ll probably only need about a teaspoon of filling for each one well.
- This recipe doubles beautifully.
- You could easily substitute pecans for walnuts or leave the nuts out entirely.
- For maximum flavor be sure to use fresh spices, not the ones that have been sitting around in your pantry since last fall.
- You can use canned pumpkin for this recipe but I strongly suggest you make your own pumpkin puree. It’s easy as, well, pie, and the flavor will be so much richer.
- Madeleines taste best the day you make them but will hold for 2-3 days in an air tight container. Because the batter has to rest in the refrigerator and the cooking time is so fast, consider prepping the batter just before guests arrive, sliding them into the oven as you clear the dinner dishes, and serving them hot from the oven. Impressive and oh so easy.
- The prep time on this recipe is a bit long because you have to brown the butter and cool it, then make the candied nuts and cool those. You could very easily do those two steps several hours before you make the batter to shorten the mixing time.