Celebrate the arrival of spring with Cherry Blossom Madeleines! These delightful cookies are buttery, slightly sweet and salty, with a hint of cherry blossom’s fragrance. Invite your friends over and enjoy these gorgeous madeleines with green tea.
Spring in Japan is always a special time. The cherry trees explode in shades of pink. It is a magical moment during full bloom, gathered together with family and friends under the cherry trees, enjoying a picnic and celebrating the change of seasons.
What do you bring to a picnic on this special occasion? I think there’s nothing more perfect than these Cherry Blossom Madeleines (桜マドレーヌ) to welcome the gifts of these beautiful trees!
All About Edible Cherry Blossoms
Are you curious to learn more about these edible cherry blossoms? Let’s go over one by one.
1. Are they really edible?
Yes, they are! Salt-pickled cherry blossoms are made with Yaezakura (八重桜), blossoms of more than five petals. They are carefully handpicked while the buds are still tender and young, then washed, drained and dried before they are sprinkled with salt. On the next day, the brine is squeezed out and the flowers are pickled in ume plum vinegar (梅酢) and let sit for about 3 days. Finally, they are dried in a single layer for another 3 days in the shade or until they are completely dried. To preserve, the blossoms are packed in a jar with salt. This way, they can be kept for one year.
2. Where can I get them?
You can purchase these salt-pickled cherry blossoms from this Japanese online store that ships internationally (this company also sells them on Amazon), or another brand on Amazon. You might be able to find it at Japanese grocery stores when in season. You can also purchase it from Weee!
The pickled blossoms are not expensive at all, so they make a wonderful treat for many Japanese who live in overseas like me to have a taste of home.
3. How to get rid of salt and saltiness from the preserved cherry blossoms?
Before you use these flowers in your recipe, you need to rinse and soak them in water for some time. The soaking time depends on the recipe, varying from 5 minutes to 30 minutes.
Helpful Tips for Making Cherry Blossom Madeleines
Here are some tips that will help you make good Madeleines.
- Use room-temperature eggs as they expand in volume when beaten. If you forget to take them out of the fridge, submerge the chilled eggs in warm water for several minutes and they will be good to use.
- Rest the batter in the refrigerator for at least one hour. I usually just refrigerate the batter overnight. By chilling the batter, it helps to give the madeleines their distinctive bumps (the bulging shape of the cookies).
- Be generous with the use of butter when coating the molds. It gives the Madeleines a nice golden color and helps to remove the baked cookies from the pan easily.
- Use a 1 Tbsp measuring spoon to transfer the batter. It’s the easiest way to measure the exact amount for each mold and not overfill.
- Use Madeleine pan as I think they conduct heat better than silicone molds, but I’ve seen some people make beautiful Madeleines with silicon molds, so it’s up to you.
Recipes Using Salt Pickled Cherry Blossoms
Aside from Madeleines, you can also use salt pickled cherry blossoms to make these delicious and pretty recipes to welcome the most anticipated season.
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Cherry Blossom Madeleines
- 20 salt-pickled cherry blossoms (roughly 20 g)
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter (2 oz, ½ stick)
- 1 large egg (50 g w/o shell) (at room temperature)
- ⅓ cup sugar
- ½ cup all-purpose flour (plain flour) (if you use a measuring cup, fluff your flour with a spoon, sprinkle it into your measuring cup, and use a knife to level it off. Otherwise, your flour ends up with more than 60 g)
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ Tbsp milk (whole milk, at room temperature)
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
- ½ Tbsp all-purpose flour (plain flour) (for dusting the pan)
- Gather all the ingredients. Please note that there will be 30 minute soaking time as well as 1 hour chilling time. You will need a madeline pan.
- Put the salt pickled cherry blossoms in a small bowl and add water. Discard the water and salt that accumulates on the bottom of the bowl.
- Add water again and let them soak for 30 minutes to remove the saltiness from the flowers.
- Pick up the flowers and let them dry on a sheet of paper towel. Set 12 of the best-looking flowers aside. Keep a separate pile of the remaining flowers and broken pieces.
- Finely chop the remaining flowers and broken pieces (I had about 1 tsp chopped flowers).
- Melt the unsalted butter in the microwave (or in a small saucepan over medium low heat).
- In a medium bowl, combine 1 egg and ⅓ cup sugar, and whisk together till frothy.
- Using a fine-mesh sieve, sift ½ cup all-purpose flour and ½ tsp baking powder over the egg mixture. Using a silicone spatula, fold in until just combined.
- Add ½ Tbsp milk and blend together with the batter.
- Slowly add half of the cooled melted butter. Make sure to blend the butter and mixture well before you add the rest of butter. Mix until just blended and do not overmix.
- Add the chopped flowers and fold in gently.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Rest the batter for at least one hour, or preferably overnight. If you do not plan on making it soon, put the batter in an airtight bag, and store in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 375°F (190°C). For a convection oven, reduce cooking temperature by 25ºF (15ºC). Melt 1 Tbsp butter in the microwave. Using a pastry brush, brush butter into the molds of a 12 shell-shaped madeleine pan. Then using a fine-mesh strainer, lightly dust ½ Tbsp all-purpose flour over the molds.
- Carefully place each flower into the mold.
- Remove the batter from the refrigerator and scoop the batter with a 1-Tbsp measuring spoon. Transfer to each mold with a mini silicone spatula. No need to smooth out the batter in the mold as it will melt in the oven.
- Bake at 375°F (190°C) for 11-13 minutes, or until the madeleines’ edges look done and the tops spring back when touched. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 3 minutes.
- Using a fork, gently release the madeleines from the molds and transfer them onto a cooling rack. The madeleines are ready to serve when they are slightly warm or at room temperature. Dust the tops with confectioner’s sugar if desired (skip if you’re storing/freezing).
- Store COMPLETELY cooled madeleines in an airtight container for a few days (best enjoyed within 24 hours). If you are freezing the madeleines, wrap them individually in plastic wrap and enjoy them within 2 months. Defrost the madeleines at room temperature.
- Fluff up the flour several times with a spoon.
- Using the spoon, sprinkle the flour into your dry-cup measure (the one that measures exactly a cup at the top).
- Scrape off the excess with a knife.