Day 2: Pumpkin Madeleines + Daring Greatly

Our good friend Rachel, who’s in town visiting from Chicago, came over for dinner last night and brought me a beautiful gift: Brené Brown’s new book Daring Greatly. (This is incredibly ironic, considering another good friend has been harping on me nonstop to read Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection. Clearly I need to spend some quality time with Brené!) Rachel had read the book and said she thought it would be a great thing for me to read as I embark on this journey of creating this cookbook. She read me a quote at the beginning of the book, by Theodore Roosevelt, that I want to share with you:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly…who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

I cannot WAIT to read this book! I’m inspired already! I’ll share snippets as I go, but just wanted to encourage you: whatever arena you’re in (or even if you haven’t stepped into the arena yet), let’s all dare greatly together. At the end of the day, it’s not about winning or losing, but about following your heart. And about being bold. The journey is what shapes us anyway, not the end result.


One of the first recipes I tested for this book were these delicious little pumpkin madeleines. I’m obsessed. They basically combine two of my favorite things: pumpkin muffins and French madeleines. OK I know these aren’t real madeleines. Real French madeleines are spongy little tea cakes made with butter, vanilla, and lemon zest. These are made with pumpkin, spices, and oil instead of butter. Proust, I’m sure, would roll over in his grave. (I personally think he’d love them. But I regress…)

As for me, I can’t get enough of these little treats. They’re the perfect thing to whip up when I need a quick pumpkin fix: 10 minutes of prep, 10 minutes of baking, and voila, pumpkin bliss. All you need is an inexpensive madeleine pan, which is something that I think should be in every cook’s kitchen anyway. :) My good friend Julia (who lived in France with me for over a year) bought me my first madeleine pan years ago, and I use it all the time. I’ll always associate her with madeleines: the day before her wedding, her brother and I made hundreds of madeleines in her parents’ kitchen for the wedding reception. They were served with a fountain of chocolate…ahh, the memories!


So I promised you that I’d tell you a few ways to get involved with The Cookbook Diaries.

First of all, follow along! I’ll be posting updates daily on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Second, I’d LOVE your thoughts on what sort of recipes you’d love to see in the cookbook. Write me a note – either in the comments section below or at [email protected] – and let me know some of your favorite recipes from The Yellow Table that you want to see in the book.

Third, I need help recipe-testing! As I post recipes from the book (like today!), I’d love it if you make them and send me feedback. I’ll be tweaking as I go.

Last, I’m putting together a fun series of Yellow Table storytelling dinner parties that I’d love for you all to be a part of! Once a month, I’ll put together a complete dinner party menu on Pinterest, with recipes and a storytelling topic. These are my favorite type of dinner parties, and I’d love for you all to join in and host your own and send me pictures, which I’ll post on the blog. More details to come…

See you tomorrow! I’ll be sharing my favorite Detox salad recipe and some fun ideas for the weekend. In the meantime, dare greatly!

All photos by Signe Birck


Makes 24 madeleines

2 eggs
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree (1/2 of a 15-ounce can)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a madeleine tin with nonstick cooking spray or grease with butter or oil.

Beat the eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin in a large bowl until smooth, using a hand-held mixer. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.

With the mixer on low speed, add half the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and mix until almost combine. Add the rest of the flour mixture and mix until smooth.

Spoon tablespoonfuls of batter into the molds. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until puffed up and a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Cool for a few minutes in the tin, then turn out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

NOTE: You can substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice instead of the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.

NOTE: These freeze really well. When you want something a little sweet with your coffee, pull one out and microwave it for a few seconds. It’s like having a fresh-baked madeleine whenever you want!

  • alegnangela

    I can’t wait to try this recipe! I love madelines and I love pumpkin cookies, so it works perfectly! I can’t wait to see how they unfold!

    Also, if you haven’t already, check out Brene’s TED talks. She has two and they are equally inspiring.

    • annawatsoncarl

      Thanks! Let me know how they turn out!! (If you’re anything like me, you’ll love them!) I am definitely going to watch some of Brene’s TED talks…I have heard such great things. Can’t wait to check them out.

  • clare

    Is it something about the pumpkin that makes these freeze well, or will traditional madeleines also freeze? Madeleines are very high up on my to-make list.

    • annawatsoncarl

      You can freeze traditional madeleines as well, but there is something about pumpkin baked goods – bread, muffins, etc. – that freeze particularly well. Probably because they are so moist! Just throw them in a Zip-loc bag and you’re good to go :)

  • Coralie K

    Anna, this post is so inspiring. Very excited for your project, and to see how it evolves. Would love to help you with recipe-testing by organizing a brunch/dinner for my friends… on the other side of the Atlantic! Till next time, be blessed!

    • annawatsoncarl

      Thanks so much Coralie! I’d LOVE for you to host a brunch/dinner in Paris with some of my recipes…let’s make it happen! If you take pictures, I’ll post them on the blog :)

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  • Meenakshi S Nair

    I’m so happy to have discovered your blog via Nicole at Eat This Poem, but sad that the recipe testing part is over as the book is done! Damn. Will be waiting eagerly for a new set of recipes to test! I also love tweaking recipes- I’m doing a post now on Nigella Lawson’s baby bundt cakes which I baked in a mini donut pan :p But that’s the fun of home baking, right? Creating something a little imperfect, but comforting. I’ve been browsing page after page of you blog and love it :)

  • Laura Vorozilchak

    I have just recently discovered your beautiful blog, recipes, photos, and cooking inspiration-congratulations on your new cookbook! This recipe touches on my love of everything fall heart, and I have been spending more time in my kitchen baking and experimenting with anything pumpkin-I really cannot get enough! Now I just need to find a madeleine cooking tray, and I’ll be all set. Thank you for sharing your talent and creativity with your readers; it truly is inspiring. I’ll definitely give these a try soon and plan to feature them on my blog, with of course credits to the true chef! Thanks again, xo Laura

  • Brooke Long

    One year later, I’m still baking these beauties! Just a heads up I included you in my last link love:

  • Mariana Abou-Rizk

    I made these because I wanted something with pumpkin in it, not just pumpkin spice, and my parents devoured them instantly. So tasty, moist and fairly spongy like cake (not like “real” madeleines, but I knew that going in). I used melted butter instead of oil, not that it makes much difference, and chilled the batter for 45 minutes before scooping to make them a little stiffer. The recipe made exactly the amount of madeleines predicted (24). This is, all in all, a wondedul recipe. I’ll probably make these madeleines again tomorrow with the leftover pumpkin purée.

My name is Anna Watson Carl. In a word, I love food, I love France, and I love throwing dinner parties. Over the years, I've worked as a personal chef, taught cooking classes, edited cookbooks, written for magazines, tested and styled recipes, and traveled whenever opportunity has arisen. But at heart, there's nothing I love more than sharing a meal with friends around the yellow table.

For me, cooking has always been a way of life. As a (mildly precocious) ten-year old, I planned and prepared a four-course Valentine's dinner for my parents, birthing a lifelong passion for dinner parties. That was just the beginning. I've been cooking ever since, whipping up souffles at a chateau in Burgundy, searing filet mignon for a wealthy client's dog (bizarre, but true), butchering ducks for confit de canard in Paris, baking the night shift in Nashville, and bathing the floor of my NYC apartment in turkey brine...the story continues.


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