Chestnut Honey Madeleines


One bite in these unassuming madeleines and the hair in your nape will stand to attention, as you suddenly register the intensity of the chestnut honey aroma, and the smooth, moist, melting texture of the crumb dissolving in your mouth. You will taste it again to make sure it wasn’t just a fluke or a tastebud hallucination, and to your amazement it will get even better with each bite, until the madeleine is entirely consumed. You will lick the remaining sweetness from your lips and smile with satisfaction, happy to have found such a delicious treat, but wisely deciding that you will keep some for tomorrow and the day after that.

If you want to be punctilious (and who would blame you) these are not , striclty speaking, madeleines: in addition to chesnut honey from the Cévennes (a region in the South of France), flour, butter, sugar and eggs — that’s it — they are made with almond powder, an ingredient that is key to their wonderful texture but altogether absent from the classic madeleine recipe (honey is tolerated). These are, in fact, madeleine-shaped, honey-flavored financiers. But let me ask you this: do we care? Not really.

These madeleines come from a store I have mentioned in the past called Bellota-Bellota, which specializes in rare and luxurious food items*, imported from Spain for the largest part.

At their classy tasting counter, we also tried three different kinds of an exceptional Bellota ham, served on the special volcano plate that they have just developed with the porcelain manufacturer Bernardaud: shaped like an inverted funnel, this rather ingenious plate lets you place a tea light candle underneath, while you lay thin slices of ham all around the volcano. The heat from the candle, conducted gently by the porcelain, will bring the ham to the correct tasting temperature, when the fat starts to sweat a little and the aromas of the meat can bloom fully. We were also very much taken with their cooked jamón ibérico, a more unusual product: instead of being dry-cured and aged, this one is cooked on the bone (like the French jambon à l’os) and over a woodfire for part of the process, giving it a unique tenderness of texture and smokiness of taste.

Another revelation from that store was an astounding sheep’s milk cheese called Torta de la Serena: it is produced in the Extremadura region of Spain (like the pimentón de la Vera) from the milk of Merino sheep, and it is one of very few cheeses in Europe to call for macerated thistle** flowers as the curdling agent (instead of animal rennet**, a substance that coagulates milk, taken from the stomach of newborn calves or lambs). The rind of the torta is semi-hard and pale yellow, hiding a surprisingly soft, almost moussy interior: the way to eat it is to slice off the top of the cheese, and serve the creamy insides with a spoon — sort of like a Spanish Mont d’Or. It is somewhat sharp, with full, complex flavors and a hint of bitterness, which comes as a pleasant contrast from the fresh smoothness of its texture.

18 rue Jean Nicot
75007 Paris
01 53 59 96 96
(Several other locations in Paris, Lyon and Toulouse)

* To give you an idea, a bag of madeleine (250g) is 7.50€, the Bellota-Bellota ham is 244€/kg, the cooked Spanish ham is 50.50€/kg, and the Torta is 33€/kg

** For my French readers: thistle = chardon, rennet = présure.

  • Clotilde, this post made me salivate. Luckily I read it whilst I had my lunch..I am a very, very big fan of financier and as quick as a flash I have taken down the address of this wonderful place where they sell these seemingly spectacular madeleine/financier.

  • stinkerbell

    guess who will be going back to belotta belotta for diner :)

    VERY soon!!

  • Oh whimper… I nearly licked the screen I wanted those financiers-in-madaleine-clothing so much. They sound SO good! Alas, unlike valentina, I cannot copy down the address and trot right down to the store. So, Clotilde and valentina, enjoy of this store for my sake. Maybe one day I’ll get there and enjoy it on my own.

  • What a pity, you didn’t do this log yesterday or monday when my husband was still in Lyon. I would love to taste it for real and not only taste the words….

  • Monica

    Those madeleine-wannabes sound great, but I’m more interested in the volcano plate! Of course, the budget would require I purchase my ham elsewhere. :-)

  • Sylvie

    Ces pseudo-Madeleine-financier ont l’air délicieuses ! tu a une idée des proportions miel/poudre d’amande ?

  • wildeny

    It looks like the lemond cake we have here. Is the classic French madeleines like a cookie or a cake?

  • susan

    Some years ago, we used to take a holiday in St.Martin and there I discovered chestnut honey. It is quite a sensory assault for those of used to American honey. Once tasted, never forgotten….tres delicieux…

  • sam

    that chestnut honey sure is funky. I learnt about it in a cooking class recently and most pupils were not 100% convinced by it.
    Chestnut honey in moderation is good for me, not too much!

  • Southern Italy is also a good place to source miele di castagne (among other speciality honey) and many inspired recipes too. It is the key ingredient in my favourite biscotti and I have added it to ricotta cake for a different taste. May be possible to find in a good Italian shop in America if you were keen to try.

  • Becca

    does anyone have a great recipe for these financiers? the ones here … or anything like them … sound amazing and I have never tried them.

  • pimpille

    Pour Becca
    I’ve got several recipies for financiers. I like this easy one and use silicone madeleine molds.
    100g flour
    125g butter
    125g sugar
    4 eggs (I use duck eggs)
    100g ground almond
    vanilla powder
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    Mix sugar+ cold melted butter + eggs one by one. Add flour, baking powder,vanilla and almond (freshly ground almonds taste better). Fill each mold no more than three quarter full. Bake for 7-10mn or until golden blond and cooked through. Voilà
    I can aswell give you the other financiers recipies

  • Mary

    Clotlide…In your original receipe of financiers you listed 20 g of flour, yet I see in the receipe above it says 100 g. Was 20 g the right amount? Your picture drove me absolutely crazy until I had to make them myself! I found it hard to convert the ingredients , and found that when I made them they looked quite runny, so I did add 1/2 cup of flour instead of just the 1/4 c. I added my own twist and put a frozen cranberry on top of each one. I was afraid that I had ruined them, but when I smelled that heavenly smell, I knew I was hooked!….I regretfully had made them to take to our condo board meeting…..and everyone gobbled them up! ….now I will have to make more of these wonders before the day is out.
    Is 1/4 cup the right conversion?

  • Sylvie/Maman – I would use a regular financier recipe and sub honey for sugar in the same amount, I think.

    Wildeny – A madeleine is more like a little cake than a cookie, tender and moist inside.

    Becca – I have a recipe for financiers, or you can try the one Pimpille kindly provided!

    Mary – My recipe does call for very little flour (in fact, 20g flour is even less than 1/4C, it’s 1/6C!). The batter is a little runny, but the finished product bakes up just fine. You will also notice that the recipe I use has a little more almond powder in it, which fluffs up as it bakes. But I’m sure it works very well with a bit more flour and I’m glad yours turned out so good!

  • adelina

    I have always loved Madeleines, especially ever since Marcel Proust made it famous in his novel. Yet, I haven’t found a good Madeleine recipe at all. Thanks Clotilde for posting up this article – the Madeleines look so good on the screen!

  • Becca

    Thanks so much for the financiers recipes! I really appreciate it …

  • Very nice blog!

    Here is a recipe I used in a french patisserie in Oslo. We called them visitandine.

    150 g poudre d’amandes
    300g sucre semoule
    9 blancs d’oeufs
    100g farine
    250g beurre noisette

    Keep up the good work! Your bolg is very inspiring!

  • madelines are my most favorite thing in all the world. these sound like heaven. thanks for sharing!

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