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History of Madeleines

Ah, the beloved madeleine, with its dainty shell shape. So full of flavor, so full of life! If you have never heard of or tasted the madeleine, you have missed out on a fabulous treat! Madeleines are small cakelike cookies that are baked in special molds, which give them a delicate shell-like shape.

Origin & Legends

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The original French madeleine is a small, traditional cake from two communes of the Lorraine region of northeastern FranceLiverdun and Commercy. There are several legends that exist in regards to the “creation” of madeleines. These legends oftentimes are centered around a female named Madeleine, who was said to have been at the service of an important person of Lorraine. However, there has never been a consensus of the last name of the baker, nor has the identity of the important or famous person been revealed. Some people believe that the cook or baker was a woman named Madeleine Paulmier who worked for Stanisław Leszczyński, the Duke of Lorraine, during the 18th century. Legend tells that his wife, Maria Leszczyńska, loved the little cakes so much, that she began serving them to the court in Versailles. Since the royal family of France loved these cookies so much, it is no wonder that the love for madeleines spread throughout the region. Another legend surrounds a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella in Galicia, Spain. It is said that a girl named Madeline had been given these little cake-like cookies during her pilgrimage, and she brought the recipe back to France with her. Yet another legend credits Prince Talleyrand’s chef, Jean Avice for inventing the madeleine during the 19th century.

First Recipe Appearance

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The first recipe for little cake-like cookies in France with the name madeleine appeared during the middle of the 18th century – 1758 to be more precise. Lord Southwell was said to have baked “cakes à la Magdeleine and other small desserts.” People began using metal molds to bake madeleines during the 18th century; however, these molds and cookies did not receive commercial success until the 19th century, when culinary writers began mentioning them in cookbooks. Large-scale production of madeleines first took place in Commercy in the 1760s. These madeleines were exported to Paris with other tasty treats. During the early 1840s, 20,000 cakes were produced in Commercy on a daily basis. The creation of the railroad further increased the accessibility to Parisian markets, in turn by the late 19th century, madeleines had become a staple of the bourgeoisie French population.

Madeleines Today

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Today, madeleines are not only a staple within the French diet, but thanks to commercialization and the home baker; madeleines are now part of the global diet. Madeleines can be found at French cafes, Starbucks, and even wholesale warehouses such as Costco. Despite commercialization, madeleines still tend to be unknown by most Americans. That is where Grate Madeleine comes in to change that. We hope to introduce the madeleine to U.S. consumers, not only because madeleines taste good, but because we want Americans to have their cake and eat it too! Madeleines are a special treat that bring a smile to the face of all who eat them. Although we make out-of-this-world classic Vanilla and classic Vanilla gluten-free madeleines, we are taking the madeleine up a notch into the realm of gourmet delights. We have an array of flavors and dietary-styles, so that everyone can enjoy this sweet, little treat!

Grate Madeleine

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If you are interested in purchasing our gourmet madeleines, please contact us at contact@gratemadeleine.com. We offer madeleines for catering, retail, and wholesale purposes. We want you to see and taste the difference in our gourmet madeleines and to fall in love with every bite.