Two recipes today that anyone with a sweet tooth – like me – will love.

I know I have said it a lot recently that these are good times for children to learn to cook at home, but I really do think it is one of those vital life skills that no one will ever regret learning.

I got this Madeleine recipe from Lea Linster when I did a stage at her restaurant in Luxembourg as a young chef.

She is a very accomplished chef and a great friend and inspiration to me. She has won the Bocuse d’Or – the highest award a chef can win.

You’ll need a Madeleine tin with holes that are 7.5cm (3in) long × 3cm (1¼in) wide, available from specialist kitchen shops or online. You could do them as cup cakes but they will take longer to cook. The key to the taste is browning the butter. You see it as “beurre noisette” in French recipes and it gives that toasted nutty flavour. You could also add about a ¼ tsp of cinnamon and mixed spice.

These shortbread biscuits are lovely with a cup of tea. They will keep after baking also but they usually don’t last that long. Sometimes it is nice to add some zest of lemon or orange into the mixture. The dough can also be frozen for up to two weeks.

Happy cooking,


Neven Maguire’s Midweek Meals is out now, published by Gill.



Makes 48

125g (4½oz) butter, plus extra for greasing

50g (2oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting

8 large egg whites, at room temperature

125g (4½oz) icing sugar

50g (2oz) ground almonds

50g (2oz) finely chopped hazelnuts, Toasted

  • 1 Lightly grease two 24-hole Madeleine tins with melted butter, then dust with flour, shaking off any excess. Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours, but overnight is best.
  • 2 Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/gas mark 6).
  • 3 Place the butter in a small pan and allow to brown slightly. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
  • 4 Sift the flour into a large bowl. Add the egg whites, icing sugar and ground almonds. Using an electric handheld mixer, beat until well combined and smooth. Slowly add the cooled melted brown butter and mix slowly for 5 minutes, until smooth and thickened.
  • 5 Spoon the batter into the prepared tins so that it’s about level with the tops, leaving a little room for rising, and sprinkle over the toasted hazelnuts. Bake for 7 minutes, until well risen, golden and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and leave to rest in the tin for 2 minutes, then ease out of the tins with a palette knife. Leave on a wire rack to cool slightly.
  • 6 To serve, arrange on plates and enjoy with coffee or a cup of tea.
  • Shortbread biscuits

    Shortbread biscuits. \ Photography: Philip Doyle. Food styling: Janine Kennedy

    Makes 32

    275g (10oz) butter, diced and softened, plus extra for greasing

    150g (5oz) icing sugar, sieved, plus extra to decorate

    275g (10oz) plain flour

    150g (5oz) cornflour

  • 1 Place the butter and icing sugar in a bowl, then sieve the flour and cornflour on top. Using a hand-held electric beater, whisk until you have achieved a smooth dough, adding 1 tablespoon of cold water to help bring the dough together if necessary. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge to rest for at least 1 hour, but preferably overnight to firm up.
  • 2 Roll out the shortbread on a lightly floured work surface until it’s 3mm ( in) thick. Stamp out discs using a 5cm (2in) fluted cutter. Place on baking sheets lined with non-stick baking paper and leave to rest again in the fridge for 10 minutes – this will help to stop them from shrinking.
  • 3 Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/gas mark 4).
  • 4 Bake the biscuits for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown. Using a fish slice, transfer to a wire rack to cool. To serve, dust with a little icing sugar and arrange on a plate or use as required.