I will always be a kid at heart. Always.
Even though I’m just a couple years away from turning thirty, I still get super giddy during the Halloween season.
And at 4’10” and freckle-faced, I enjoy the added bonus of still being able to dress up and go trick-or-treating well into my adulthood – secretly blending in with all the small kiddos, giggling with glee and mischief, while my excessively huge bag is filled with an outrageous amount of candy.
No one needs to know my secret. Except you, of course. You won’t tell anyone, will you?
Whenever I actually feel like acting my real age, and not stealing all the candies from the more appropriately aged children, I like to serve desserts that exude an air of elegance.
That can be difficult at this time of year, when I’m surrounded by messy apple cider doughnuts and the constant replaying of that wicked “Monster Mash” song.
Thankfully, my brown butter pumpkin madeleines with candied pecans do the trick.
Madeleines are small, fluffy cakes baked in shell-shaped molds. Because of how small they are, these regal, bite-sized delicacies are usually considered cookies.
This autumnal version will make you totally forget about those Snickers bars you were about to steal from your kids’ trick-or-treating stash. Or mine.
Brown butter, golden and nutty, flavors a gently spiced, tender pumpkin cake that’s sweetened with brown sugar. Crunchy candied pecans are speckled throughout each bite.
With a light dusting of powdered sugar, or even a spiced glaze drizzled over each madeleine, you’ll fall in love with these dainty delights.Print
Browned butter pumpkin spice madeleines mixed with crunchy pecans are an effortlessly elegant autumn dessert.
For the Brown Butter:
- Chop 1/4 cup of the butter into even squares. Melt the butter in a small pot over medium-low heat.
- Stirring the butter constantly with a whisk, continue to cook the butter until it starts foaming. Keep stirring until the butter turns a deep golden color, develops dark flecks, and releases a nutty aroma.
- Immediately remove from the heat and pour the browned butter into a heatproof clean bowl through a fine-mesh strainer. Set the browned butter aside to cool.
For the Caramelized Pecans:
- In a separate small pan, toast the pecans with about half a tablespoon of butter on low heat. As they begin to brown, add 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and stir constantly.
- Remove them from the pan immediately after everything is mixed together and the brown sugar has completely melted. Set aside to harden and cool completely as you make the cake.
For the Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Melt the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter. Generously grease two madeleine pans with the melted butter.
- In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and pumpkin spice together.
- In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs together with a pinch of salt until they’re pale yellow, thick, and syrupy, approximately 10 minutes. While the mixer is still running on low speed, gradually add 1/3 cup brown sugar. When all the sugar has been incorporated, increase the speed to high. Continue beating until the mixture has gained even more volume, similar to softly whipped cream, about 5 minutes.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer. Sift the flour mixture evenly on top of the whipped eggs, and gently fold it in with a spatula. Once the flour is completely mixed in, fold in the browned butter and pumpkin puree until completely incorporated. Fold in the caramelized pecans.
- Place a heaping tablespoon of batter in each mold of the prepared pans. You will get 18 cookies, so not all the molds will be used in the second pan. Use the back of a spoon to spread the batter evenly in the molds. They should be almost filled, but with just a little room to expand.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, turning the pan once halfway through. They will be golden in color and will spring back when gently pressed down with your fingertip.
- Remove them from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan and inverting them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 12-15 minutes
- Category: Cookies
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Dessert
Keywords: madeleines, pumpkin, pumpkin spice, cookies, cake, fall
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prep
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Measure out your ingredients.
Divide the butter: 1/4 cup of butter for the cake, 1 1/2 tablespoons for greasing the pans, and the remaining 1/2 tablespoon for candying the pecans.
Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter. Generously grease two madeleine pans with it, using a pastry brush.
Step 2 – Brown the Butter
Chop 1/4 cup of butter into even squares. This helps each piece of butter to melt and brown evenly in the pan.
Melt the butter cubes in a small pot over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. The mixture will foam, then quickly turn a deep golden color with dark flecks, and will release a nutty aroma.
Keep your eye on the pot! It will brown very suddenly. As soon as the butter browns, immediately remove from the heat and pour it into a bowl through a fine mesh strainer to remove all the solids.
Set it aside to cool as you continue with the following steps.
For more information on this step, learn how to perfectly brown butter here.
Step 3 – Caramelize the Pecans
In a separate small pan, toast the pecans with the reserved 1/2 tablespoon butter on low heat. As they begin to brown, add 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and stir constantly to coat the pecans.
Remove them from the pan immediately after everything is mixed together and the brown sugar has completely melted. The pecans can burn very easily, so work quickly, and don’t leave the nuts on the heat for any longer than necessary.
Set aside to harden and cool completely as you make the cake.
Step 4 – Beat the Eggs
In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the two eggs together with a pinch of salt. Continue to beat until they are pale yellow and thick, with a creamy consistency. They will gain some volume as well. This will take about 10 minutes.
Step 5 – Add the Sugar
Next, gradually add the remaining 1/3 cup brown sugar with the mixer still running on low speed, then increase the speed to high once the sugar has all been added. Continue beating until the mixture has gained even more volume, similar to a softly whipped cream. This take an additional 5 minutes or so.
Step 6 – Fold in the Flour
In a separate small bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and pumpkin spice together.
Remove the bowl with the egg batter from the mixer. Sift the flour mixture evenly on top of the bowl, and gently fold it in with a spatula.
Step 7 – Fold in the Flavorings
Fold in the browned butter and pumpkin puree until completely incorporated. Add the caramelized pecans and gently fold into the batter until they are distributed throughout.
Folding the mixture, rather than stirring, prevents a loss of volume and air. This helps the batter to rise to its full capacity, with a fluffy and tender texture.
Step 8 – Place Batter in the Pans
With a spoon or small cookie scoop, add a heaping tablespoon of batter to each mold of the prepared pans, for 18 in total. Use the back of a spoon or a small offset spatula to spread the batter evenly in the molds.
They should be almost filled, but with just a little room to expand as they bake.
Step 9 – Bake and Cool
Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, turning the pan once halfway through cooking to help with even baking.
They will be golden in color with lightly browned edges, and will spring back when gently pressed down with your fingertip.
Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan and inverting them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
Step 10 – Garnish and Serve
Once the cakes are completely cooled, dust each one with powdered sugar and serve immediately. They are best served on the same day that you bake them, since the outside crust will still be slightly crispy from the butter used to grease the pans.
But leftovers aren’t half bad… store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.
Fall in Love with the Fancy Side of Autumn
We’re adults. Adults really aren’t supposed to go trick-or-treating, unless they’re accompanying their kids. Or are 4’10” in stature.
If you’re not as tiny as me, and can’t get away with gathering your own stash of candy, at least you can enjoy these beautiful fall-themed madeleines.
While they look fancy, they are so simple to make – effortless elegance!
And I won’t judge you if you still sneak a bite or two of a candy bar left on the kitchen table by one of your kids.
Adults can do whatever they want, anyway…
Read up on all of our autumn recipes for even more homemade delights! Don’t forget to rate this recipe when you try it, and let me know what you think of these little desserts in the comment section below.
For more fall inspired cookie recipes, be sure to check out these tummy ticklers:
- Soft and Chewy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip
- Spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies
- Rosemary Butter Cookies from Heaven
Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on November 3, 2008. Last updated: October 11, 2020 at 4:54 am.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Nikki Cervone
Nikki Cervone is an ACS Certified Cheese Professional and cheesemonger living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she's not nibbling on her favorite cheeses or testing a batch of cupcakes, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga, wine, hiking, singing in the shower, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.