Nutty Magdalenas


I have two confessions to make. The first is that I have a terrible tendency to wander around my place, looking for something to eat. It starts the moment I wake up, and no leftover cake or cookie is safe. And continues throughout the day as I forage and wander around, eating handfuls of nuts, chocolate chips, fruits and berries, or whatever else I can get my hands one.

The other confession is that few years ago, I was in the states at a cookbook store, and I picked up one of the books on cupcakes. When the sales clerk told me how many copies it had sold, they had to send someone running down the aisle to catch the eyeballs that had fallen out of my head.

pistachios unbaked magdalena

I couldn’t even calculate how much money that was in my ever-shrinking brain, but I stocked up on cupcake liners and muffin tins, and decided that when I got home I’d knock out a cupcake book. Then, I’d retire to a sunny island and spend the rest of my life in a place where my biggest fear wasn’t bank tellers or supermarket cashiers, but wondering – “What’s taking that waiter so dang long with my next mai tai?”


However I never pursued it because as much as I like cupcakes, my heart just wasn’t it in. (And since we’re being honest here, the idea of scrubbing muffin tins for a year wasn’t all that appealing either.) So since I am decidedly downward mobile, I abandoned the project altogether. And now, all I have to show for it are a few thousand cupcake liners and muffin tins in every conceivable size, shape, and material, hand-carried from the United States of America.

cupcake tins

I also brought back a few jars of marshmallow cream thinking they’d make an interesting frosting for some of my cupcake ventures. But at least I put one of those to good use. And considering the list of ingredients, I don’t have to worry about any of the rest going bad, say, for the next 39 years.

Since quitting the cupcake project, I spent some of the time I would have spent scrubbing muffin tins, roaming around the house, snacking on various odds and ends. I was attracted to this recipe in My Barcelona Kitchen, a cookbook about the foods of that amazing Catalan city, written by Sophie Ruggles, an Australian who moved there, opened a restaurant, and now teaches cooking classes.

Magdalenas olive oil
almondsmagdalena cake

Magdalenas are kind of like muffins – or cupcakes (I’m not sure of the difference, which I guess is required if you’re going to write a book on cupcakes), except these Magdalenas de frutos secos have no butter. Instead, they rely on olive oil as well as ground nuts, which replace much of the flour, which Sophie claims put them into the “healthy” category.

But I’m not a total rube and did learn from her book that the Spanish say “Frutos secos” for mixed nuts, like the French say “Fruits secs”, both of which translate to “dried fruits.” No one’s been ever to explain that to me, although I’m sure if it’s done in both countries there has to be a reasonable explanation. Kinda like the one about why I have a few cases of cupcake liners and a cabinet full of muffin – or cupcake – tins.

Nutty muffins

Nutty Magdalenas
Print Recipe
Makes 16 individual cakes
Adapted from My Barcelona Kitchen by Sophie Juggles These are curious little treats; nutty and moist, with the taste of olive oil lingering in the background. Sophie offers up that you can use any kind of nut that you like – hazelnuts, pistachios, almonds, or a combination of them. If you want to start with ground almonds or hazelnut flour (also called nut meal) use 3 1/4 ounce or 90 grams. The original recipe said to cook them at 415Fº (210ºC) for at least thirty minutes, but I dialed down my oven to 400ºF (200ºC) and they were done in about 15 minutes. You can bake them in muffin tins or just in the paper muffin cups, set on a baking sheet. They spread out a little more on baking sheets, so space them out apart to give them room to grow.
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (200g) sugar
2/3 cup (90g) toasted almonds or hazelnuts, skins removed after toasting
1 1/2 cups (225g) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder preferably aluminium-free
pinch of salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (200ml) mild-flavored olive oil
About 1/4 cup (25g) mixed chopped nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts or pistachios, for sprinkling, untoasted
1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC.) Line 16 indentations in muffin tins with paper liners.
(Or set 16 paper muffin cups on a baking sheet, without using the muffin tins.)
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whip the eggs and sugar on high speed until very light and doubled in volume, 3 to 5 minutes.
3. While the eggs and sugar are whipping, pulverize the toasted almonds or hazelnuts, in a food processor with the flour, baking powder, and salt, until the nuts are finely ground up, similar in texture to very coarse polenta.
4. When the eggs are fully whipped, drizzle in the olive oil while the mixer in running at medium-high speed, in a slow, steady stream, stopping the mixer midway to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
5. By hand, stir in the flour and ground nut mixture just until it’s completely incorporated. Fill the paper muffin cups halfway full with the batter. (I used a spring-loaded ice cream scoop.) Bake the cakes 15 minutes or just until the centers feel lightly set when you press one. If baking the cakes withouth the muffin tins, they make take a few minutes longer.

Storage: The Magdalenas can be stored in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to 3 days. They can also be frozen for up to 2 months.

Related Links and Recipes

Lemon-Glazed Madeleines

German Chocolate Cupcakes

Showgirl Cupcakes

8 Tips for Choosing and Using Olive Oil

Zucchini Cake with Crunchy Lemon Glaze


  • February 25, 2013 11:30am

    Looks amazing, I can almost smell this delicious scent :-)

  • Anna
    February 25, 2013 11:32am

    Why sixteen? What kind of pan is she using? Or is it something like the 8 bun/10 patties situation?

    • February 25, 2013 11:55am
      David Lebovitz

      There are baked in paper muffin or cupcake liners. She bakes hers without a pan, directly in the paper cups, as indicated in the recipe headnote. You can cut the recipe down if 16 is too much. They also freeze well, so any extras can be saved for future snacking.

  • February 25, 2013 11:32am

    These look like the perfect thing to make and bring to work with me.
    My schedule is so erratic that I usually just snack on saucisson and apéro crackers because they’re there. Neither of which are very satisfying when they’re all you have time to grab, day after day. Thanks!

  • Dina
    February 25, 2013 12:35pm

    David!!!! That is me, every day!!!! hahaha I need sth with my coffee in the morning…. as if there’s not enough cereal and whole wheat and fibre in my morning yoghurt… hahah Thank you so much for this! Reminded me of what I have made, breakfast cupcakes with 0% fat! Now there is a guiltfree indulgence!

  • Mie
    February 25, 2013 12:51pm

    I’m so relieved to hear someone else fessing up to the same (bad) habits as me :D

    America’s test kitchen has a video explaining the technical difference (lack thereof) between muffins and cupcakes:

  • adrian
    February 25, 2013 1:01pm

    Hi David,
    You left number 3 hanging in mid-air. What comes after “and .”?

  • February 25, 2013 1:04pm

    Cupcakes used to be those small (emphasis on small, please), light, fluffy sponge cakes with white, baby pink or baby blue toppings. You bought them cheap at the in-store bakery of your local supermarket. I made the mistake of once baking them myself, for my oldest daughter’s 7th birthday. That effort resulted in getting only a barely passing grade from her classmates, “almost as good as the ones from the supermarket”. Store-bought they were from then on!

    Muffins were about three times the size of a cupcake, usually with some heftier ingredients, added, lnuts, dried fruits, and whipped cream cheese and butter topping.

    I remember muffins growing even larger with the arrival of Starbucks, at least in the Washington DC area. They became so big, you needed a friend to share with, otherwise you risked muffin overload coma.

  • blu
    February 25, 2013 1:06pm

    Great! Muffins with no butter! FYI also in Italy we say “frutta secca” for mixed nuts. Have a beautiful day.

  • adrian
    February 25, 2013 1:06pm

    love your pictures!

  • Sissy
    February 25, 2013 1:24pm

    Your post brings back vivid pictures of my time in Barcelona this fall. I have to say it is my favorite city I’ve ever visited. I’ve got to try this recipe too, thanks!

  • wendy
    February 25, 2013 1:43pm

    Just have to say, You are so funny! I love your blog — always inspiring and puts me in a good mood. Now I have to go back to roaming my apartment looking for something to eat…

  • February 25, 2013 2:29pm
    David Lebovitz

    adrian: I’d meant to add a few words to visually give bakers an idea of the texture. They’re in there now.

    Sissy: I love Barcelona as well and that was something that drew me to Sophie’s book. It’s a great city – so fun and the food is great, too.

    wendy: Thanks! : )

  • February 25, 2013 2:32pm

    Muffins are mixed with the “muffin method”: combine all the dry in one bowl, all the wet in another, dump the wet into the dry and stir until just combined. Cupcakes are made like cakes: cream butter and sugar, add eggs, then alternately add dry and wet ingredients, ending with dry.

  • Sissy
    February 25, 2013 2:48pm

    David, yes the food was wonderful in Barcelona!!! Almost every meal I ate there was amazing — what a dreamy place. I hope to go back there someday soon…. I would love to get her cookbook but it doesn’t seem to be readily available in the US and very expensive. I wonder if it is already out of print?

    • February 25, 2013 2:55pm
      David Lebovitz

      Her book is recent and was published in the UK, so availability may be limited elsewhere (due to foreign rights and/or shipping issues – which is one of the upside of e-books.) There are places like Book Depository that ship globally, and for free if you don’t live in the UK.

  • ClaireD
    February 25, 2013 3:28pm

    Now this is my kiind of breakfast! While I love cupcakes, I tend to think of them as “little cakes” with all the sweetness and frosting implied. Now a muffin, to me, is a hearty little treat that can be as simple as a corn muffin, or as inventive and satisfying as the one you’ve pictured. I love experimenting with different nuts and nut flours and am intrigued by the “no butter” aspect of this muffin. As always, the pictures and descriptions make me almost think I can smell/taste what I’m seeing. Merci!

  • February 25, 2013 3:51pm

    I’ll be totally honest–I really hate cupcakes. In the closest small-ish city to where I live, there are at least three (3!) cupcakeries, and not a single decent everyday bakery. It’s like cupcakes are a sad replacement for all the truly magnificent baked goods out there. As a baker, cupcakes frustrate and annoy me. Having said that, the Magdalenas look amazing–not at all like a cupcake ;)

  • February 25, 2013 4:32pm

    The French are so odd. Fruits secs for mixed nuts? Come on now.

    On the other hand, the muffins look great. And moist. I bet the olive oil helps with that. Dry muffins are the scourge of the terrible bakery.

    • February 25, 2013 4:36pm
      David Lebovitz

      Well, it’s not just the French and the Spanish (that I mentioned), but as blu noted in a previous comment, in Italy, they call them the same thing. I wonder where that came from, since it’s prevalent in Europe. Perhaps from Latin?

  • February 25, 2013 4:37pm

    These look so tasty. I bet if you added cream cheese icing, they would qualify as cupcakes, but that doesn’t seem necessary. I was thinking about the cupcake craze, too. I never got on board, and I thought the fad was ending. Yesterday on Newbury St, though, I saw cupcake shop with a line of frozen tourists waiting in sleet and coiling around the building. So, I guess there’s money it.

    Also, olive oil in baked goods is so tasty. I’ve totally transitioned to olive oil for my homestyle biscuits. :)

  • February 25, 2013 5:14pm

    David, your writing – as always – is so captivating.
    I’m sure while in NY you noticed the *many* cupcake shops that now dot the city’s streets. They’re ubiquitous!
    I love olive oil in my cupcakes – they’re “springier” in texture.

  • Sarah
    February 25, 2013 5:29pm

    You are so fun to read! Thank you.

  • February 25, 2013 5:34pm

    These look so much better than cupcakes! I am so tired of the whole cupcake thing, why are they so popular? Is it the whole individual/ mini thing?
    I’ll take a chocolate tart, eclair or a European torte any day.

  • MiLinda
    February 25, 2013 6:02pm

    This looks quite yummy. I will have to give this a whirl.

  • February 25, 2013 6:08pm

    Why are nuts called fruits secs? I think the reason is that there is no generic term for ‘nuts’ in French. Noix means walnut,noisette is a hazelnut almande is an almond and so on, but there is no general term. Because nuts were often served alongside dried fruits (like raisins), they began to be referred to as fruits secs which was actually the melange they found themselves mixed into.

    • February 25, 2013 6:42pm
      David Lebovitz

      I used to think that too, but then I realized that noix kind of the generic word for nuts (noix de cajou, noix du Brésil, etc..) And thought it would be some derivation on that, rather than “mixed fruits.”

  • February 25, 2013 6:10pm

    I love you David! Always happy to see your name in my inbox and then read your stories. And your recipes are ALWAYS good!

  • February 25, 2013 6:29pm

    When I was in high school Home Ec in the late 1960s, a muffin was a quick bread that was not sweet and was often served with butter, very much a sliced bread substitute. In recent years, American muffins have come to mean either a much sweeter quick bread or a cake-y confection, the only requirement being that it be made in the traditional shape. The difference in these two types is the method used to create it, as aply noted by another commenter.

    Put nuts in it and I’ll eat a slab of iron! This recipe looks yummy.

  • February 25, 2013 6:33pm

    Ahh, I’m glad you didn’t become a sell out and make a cupcake cookbook. As much as I would have supported your early retirement, just something about it wouldn’t have been right… My roommate has two cupcake cookbooks and she’s never made anything from either of them. They sit there, with their cutsy-cut and colorful pages, just waiting to be sent to Goodwill or something when we all move out. This cupcake phase will soon pass, and then we can get back to properly celebrating things that will always be there, like ice creams and tarts and cookies.

  • oliver, switzerland
    February 25, 2013 6:49pm

    magdalena is the spanish translation of madeleine. so originally – or often – a madeleine batter is used to make them. they’re also availabe in the typical madeleine shell shape. baked in a cup they’re known as schmelzbrötchen” in german.

  • February 25, 2013 6:50pm

    I am a fellow forager with a penchant for anything and everything sweet. Also a big fan of muffin and cupcakes. It’s killing me and my waistline. It doesn’t help that I’m middle-aged. I haven’t quite accepted the fact that I can’t eat like I did two decades ago.

    I think the dried fruit idea is from the technical definition of what a fruit is— (from —the developed ovary of a seed plant with its contents and accessory parts, as the pea pod, nut, tomato, or pineapple.

  • Linda from Holland
    February 25, 2013 6:56pm

    Hi David, I’m totaly into cupcakes and muffins, so now I’m curious about witch book you are talking that made you (for a short while) want to go into the cupcake business. Always looking for a great baking book (next to all yours I have off course!!)

  • Regina
    February 25, 2013 7:03pm

    just made them. very easy recipe. and so delicious!
    Love your blog, David!

  • Stan
    February 25, 2013 7:03pm


    I just recommended your blog to my daughter in an email that read in part:

    “Quick note. The following is a complete, enjoyable, time waster. That is unless you can justify following such a blog on the quality of the writing, in which case it is certainly worth it. He could probably write from Kalamazoo about car mechanics and make it enjoyable. Paris, food, and reflections on life… well those are just pluses.”

    David, I hope that someday you have only to worry about your mai-tai. Till then I will happily look forward to your posts and hope that the process of creating them enriches your life in all the senses of the expression.


  • Cynthia Short
    February 25, 2013 7:16pm

    I MUST try these! By the way, if you would like the very best fluffy, marshmallow creamy frosting in the world, (which happens to be from the 1930’s) I would love to give it to you. It unfortunately calls for Karo syrup, but next time I make it I am going to substitute Lyle’s Golden syrup and see how it turns out.

  • Iryna
    February 25, 2013 8:13pm

    Ha-ha-ha! David, I almost fell from a chair laughing at your: “they had to send someone running down the aisle to catch the eyeballs that had fallen out of my head.” You have a great sense of humor! Loved the post. I so relate to your snacking habits! :-) Any brand of mild olive oil that you suggest?

  • Leslie Bonner
    February 25, 2013 8:59pm

    I would gladly buy your cookbook on cupcakes or muffins or anything really since I enjoy the ones I have so much. It’s a shame you carted all those muffin tins back and then not use them.
    But I will try these right away as they look delicious.

  • February 25, 2013 9:32pm

    Thx David,

    So glad you like my muffins and a fun post as always. I hope you enjoy the rest of the book.

    Anyone out there wondering what the best olive oil to use for the recipe is – I recommend an oil made from arbequina olives as they are lovely and fruity.
    Anyone wondering where to get the book, David has kindly provided a link to Amazon in the blog.

    As for the frutos secos dilema, I´m in the woods with the rest of you I´m afraid.

    Happy cooking!

  • maria-jose
    February 25, 2013 10:21pm

    Well, I’m Spanish and I have never thought about why we call nuts “frutos secos”. By the way, dried apricots, raising and dates are also “frutos secos”. According to wikipedia (in Spanish) they are called that way because they’re naturally “dry” and contain less than 50 % water like in walnuts, hazelnuts o chestnuts; or they have dehidrated them like in the case of raisins and dried apricots.

  • JudyMac
    February 25, 2013 10:49pm

    This recipe sounds as if it has the makings of a very interesting muffin. Although I now use use olive oil in my cooking endeavors, sometimes a mixture of olive oil and butter, I have never really acquired a taste for olive oil on its own–particularly when used as a dipping “sauce” with balsamic vinegar. But last week I discovered something new, a something which might just be the thing to use in these muffins. A friend and I were visiting a restaurant in a lovely little Georgia (USA) antebellum town the other day and we were served the oil/vinegar with a very good bread being served. To the taste, the oil was just delightful and we were lapping it up with glee. It was very light, a beautiful clear almost chartreuse color, and when we inquired (which was mandatory because it was so good) we were told it was a Veneto olive oil. You must be familiar with the Veneto oils, right? Now I’m on the search for this oil around town, or else I’m sure I can find it on the net. Then, I definitely want to try the Nutty Magdalenas! Cheers, JudyMac

  • Cindy
    February 25, 2013 11:24pm

    Hi, this recipe coincides nicely with the front page article in the NY Times today advocating the “Mediterranean” diet high in olive oil and nuts to lower your risk of heart disease. So I guess you could argue that these are a health food. I wonder how it would taste with less sugar?

    • February 25, 2013 11:43pm
      David Lebovitz

      I thought about trying them with less sugar (I did make them 3x!) but I found the amount in the recipe exactly right & they weren’t too sweet. The original recipe said to use “natural” sugar, which I did one time, but I know it’s not something that everyone has on hand. But it does work in these little cakes.

  • Delly
    February 25, 2013 11:28pm

    I imagine you can auction off those cupcake pans and liners to homesick American expats in France. Take a few to your next book-signing and sell them!

  • February 25, 2013 11:56pm

    You mean I’m not the only one going through every shelf in the kitchen looking for something remotely edible!!!

    My foraging habit’s so bad I’ve taken to buying nuts et al on the day I am planning to bake or else they’re all gone :-)

  • Betty
    February 26, 2013 12:03am

    I love your writing and the content too. What do you think of my making this in the many mini-muffin tins acquired when there were 3 young boys with great appetites storming the kitchen after school, often accompanied by friends from the neighborhood.
    This sounds like a relatively healthy treat for two oldsters who still wander around looking for something? Would the baking time be less?

    • February 26, 2013 10:47am
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, if you use smaller molds, reduce the baking time.

  • Ann
    February 26, 2013 12:57am

    You are so funny and adorable. =)

  • Jennifer
    February 26, 2013 1:31am

    David, I have been a fan since I made your pear almond tart for thanksgiving 3 years ago (and several more times after that.). I have 2 of your books (my Sweet life in Paris is wonderfully transporting), and look forward to your blog daily, but I have never commented before. Today, though, I laughed out loud as I pictured you waking, on the prowl for the next snack. I work at home and was just poised to see if I could get away with eating just a few more morsels of dark chocolate covered ginger, hidden in my secret stash, without being caught so close to dinner. These cupcakes/muffins look so tasty I may have to go make them right now. Your recent writings got me on the Buckwheat flour bandwagon… the cake was a treat and I made the crepes for “shrove Tuesday” – great taste and texture. Thank you. I’m hoping to be in Paris in April – any book signings coming up then? I would love to come. Thanks for all your writings and recipes; you have me trying new things, and remind me of foods I’d forgotten I love.

  • Tags
    February 26, 2013 1:51am

    I have an old hand-written recipe for apple cake that uses oil instead of butter, as well as orange juice, and I’ve changed it to use other oils as well as other juices, it always seems to work out well if I follow the basic guidelines. Oil seems to make a moister cake than butter, and I very much prefer oil to vegetable shortening, whose only purpose besides clogging arteries seems to be to prolong shelf life.

    • February 26, 2013 10:46am
      David Lebovitz

      Oil makes moister cakes because it’s 100% “fat” (or however it’s called in scientific lingo) whereas butter is roughly 81% fat. Plus oil tends to saturate and permeate the crumb (flour), making the cake moisture. I avoid vegetable shortening as well, because I think it’s unnecessary and prefer the taste of butter. (Also you can’t get vegetable shortening in France – but there is lard and butter.)

  • Estelle
    February 26, 2013 1:59am

    Thanks for this wonderful recipe. I plan to make them as soon as possible. Will be a good breakfast substitute for me. One question, you mention that nut meal can be used. Is that in place of all the white flour? Or can you just use some nut meal and the rest white flour? I wasn’t sure I was clear about that but I’m sure you’ll set me straight.


    • February 26, 2013 10:43am
      David Lebovitz

      The nut meal is what can be used in place of the ground nuts – not the white flour. Since some people don’t have access to nut meal (also called nut flour, or ground nuts) I used whole nuts and ground them myself.

  • February 26, 2013 2:30am

    In Spanish, there’s no generic word for nut. So what we in English call nuts are the fruits of their respective trees, and since they differ from other fruits in that they have no juice, they’re dry fruits. Or at least that’s the case in the Americas – don’t know if it’s different in Spain. (I live in South America and have found myself frustrated into silence by the lack of the general category “nut”. My South American husband doesn’t see the problem.)

    • February 26, 2013 10:42am
      David Lebovitz

      I had dinner with a French friend last night, who is a cook, and she said it was just natural to call them “fruits” – she wasn’t quite able to explain it, but we thought that perhaps it had something to do with the fact that nuts are considered calling them “mixed fruits” was the logical explanation.

  • Eric Yendall
    February 26, 2013 4:00am

    Jewelle Dee

    What you describe is the English muffin which has nothing in common with the American version.

    According to Elizabeth David, “A muffin or English muffin is a small, round, flat (or thin) type of yeast-leavened bread which is commonly served split horizontally, toasted, and buttered.”‘

  • Anne
    February 26, 2013 5:37am

    You just make me laugh. I love your writing style. Plus, you post some good recipes.

  • Poornima
    February 26, 2013 6:29am

    Nowadays I am reading your blog more to put myself in a happy mood. The recipes are a bonus….. You are very funny. Thanks!

  • February 26, 2013 6:30am

    ehehehehehe. this was fun to read :) the world has lost something by your not writing a cupcake book.

  • Jo-Lee
    February 26, 2013 6:41am

    Speaking of marshmallow fluff…about two weeks ago I took 2 jars (waaaaaassay too expensive here in Canada) whipped them up with about 1/3 of a pound of butter, et voilà! A perfect icing for cupcakes. Not exactly high end, but very yummy.

  • February 26, 2013 6:51am

    David. I’m making these for tes this evening and I have a question. Been looking at some other magdalena recipes and I see some of them having baking powder and some don’t, probably using the eggs only for leavening/ softness.
    Did you use one tbsp of baking powder?

    • February 26, 2013 10:41am
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, I did. That was what the recipe originally called for and while it seemed like a lot, it worked just right. I do use (and recommend) aluminum-free baking powder since it doesn’t have any tinny flavor.

  • Gavrielle
    February 26, 2013 7:02am

    Not that I begrudge you your mai tais, but I’m glad you didn’t sell out and become a cupcake shiller! Cupcakes seem to consist of bland vehicles for a ridiculous tower of icing – why not just eat sugar straight out of the jar? I agree that it is, alas, soul-destroying trying to do creative work only for monetary gain. If only it were more agreeable there’d be a lot more mai tais to go round.

  • February 26, 2013 10:38am

    Magdalenas sound so exotic.. more so than muffins or cupcakes. Too bad you never pursued that book idea.. I think your spin on things would’ve enticed me out of my cupcake ennui.

  • February 26, 2013 1:56pm

    I’m not a fan of cupcakes in general but honest to God, these here make me drool… me, the non-dessert-person (I claim to be – so why oh why I’m a so totally hooked on your blog and postings?! – Shall ask Freud!)
    Sophie is right, the Spanish version definitely looks HEALTHY, lol – shall try them – I too have a ton of cupcake paper ‘foils’ – the metal baking tins I also bought in a moment of mental illness have already gone to my sister who is baking with her 2 small grand children… she makes so much better use of them than I ever would!
    Thank you and Thank You Sophie for this very tempting recipe. I sadly must wait a while for the first trial as I just had TWO teeth ‘recrowned’ (one cap just split, the tooth next to it broke off at the far side about 1 month later…). So for a bit, I’m going easy on the pistaches and such. And you know I never, ever knew that there is baking powder with aluminum. Gosh the stuff I learn from you, my food hero.

  • Vonmoishe
    February 26, 2013 2:48pm

    David, I think you left out a step between #4 and #5. What is the flour mixture? Is it just a combination of the pulverized nuts, flour and baking powder?

    Yes, the nuts get pulverized with the flour, baking powder and salt. Sorry that wasn’t clear. I’m experimenting with some HTML code/snippets issues behind-the-scenes here which makes things a little tricky to write out. Thanks, and enjoy the recipe! -dl

  • February 26, 2013 7:19pm

    After this laughing session (I swear, you should be a standup comic) all the time relating to foraging all day – perhaps you should write a cupcake cookbook after all! Your blog always energizes me and sets a great tone for my day!

  • nina
    February 26, 2013 8:13pm

    Zafra: Yes, there is a generic term or word for nuts in spanish: Nueces.

  • maria-jose
    February 26, 2013 10:45pm

    Nina, “nueces” is not a generic word in Spanish. For us, Spanish speakers, nueces are your walnuts. Hazelnuts, we call them avellanas, cashew nuts are anacardos, chestnuts are castañas, peanuts are cacahuetes… In any market or “fruteria” if you ask for nueces, you’ll be given walnuts.

  • February 27, 2013 1:51am

    ahhh, a man after my own heart. i am the same. nibble here, nibble there, handful of almonds, a bit of chocolate, a bit of epoisses on a sliver of homemade sourdough. and then dusting, organizing, with breaks in bed with a book.

    my mother called it putzing. i call it life, the bulk of mine anyway.

  • February 27, 2013 3:32am

    So yummy!

  • Allyce
    February 27, 2013 4:59am

    Hello David,

    I made the magdelenas and, unfortunately, the came about a bit dry and crumbly. I could barely get them out of the muffin tins and set them on a plate without them crumbling (after I let them cool). Are they supposed to be moist- or is this the correct texture? I am also wondering if this happened because I used a pre-ground almond meal that I purchased rather than processing it myself.

    Otherwise, I have enjoyed making all of your other recipes.


    • February 27, 2013 9:25am
      David Lebovitz

      Hi Allyce: I made them three times and mine came out fine (one batch I did in the convection oven, as comparison.) As mentioned, I dialed down the baking time and temperature quite a bit from the recipe in the book but all three of mine came out just right. Am not sure why yours came out dry and crumbly, but one thing is that you might want to check your oven with an oven thermometer. Another reason could be that the you said you had a hard time getting them out of the tins. Did you use paper muffin cups? Perhaps they baked faster if you didn’t.

      • Allyce
        February 27, 2013 11:51pm


        Thank you very much for your response and suggestion. I definitely will try again since I now know that that is not the correct texture. I think I was just having a “bad baking day”. Thanks again!

  • Vidya
    February 27, 2013 8:37am

    My parents are from India, where they have the same habit of calling all dried fruit and nuts “dry fruits”. I’ve never understood it! So bizarre, it seems like it translates across several languages.

  • Laurie
    February 27, 2013 8:50am

    Calling nuts dried fruits seemed to make sense to me. But why, what made me think that? Ahha! Look up nuts (fruit) on Wiki..under botanical definition and therein you will find the answer.
    Must have been those gardening and nursery classes I took thirty years ago…
    I never use cupcake liners for muffins, I just grease and flour the pans quite generously.
    Cupcake liners make a lovely presentation filled with a couple of cookies or brownies,especially if you are taking a tray of them to a gathering people.

  • February 27, 2013 9:35am

    Oh I do like a good crunchy topping on a muffin, this looks amazing!
    You will be pleased to know that I have tried a few of your recipes lately with great success. I may have to add this one to this of my “must makes.”

    Thanks for sharing… oh and when you work out how to get the Mai Tai on the beach thing happening… make sure you share that too ;)

  • February 27, 2013 10:20am

    Aren’t the nuts fruits as well, as in wikipedia notes “A nut is a fruit composed of a hard shell and a seed”? Maybe it is why we call them dried fruits, they are not juicy…
    Just a little thought, might not be relevant.
    Anyways, i have to remember to pick up small muffin liners next time I’m in the states, as I can’t find them in Paris (only the big ones). And small muffins are so handy as a kid snack, and you can make so many different ones!!! This particular one looks interesting.
    I think I have the book you are referring to, the one that sold a lot. But I don’t use it so much, as I always prefer French pastries to American ones…

  • February 27, 2013 11:16am

    Me recuerdan a estas que tengo yo en nuestro blog :D

    Un abrazo amigo!!

  • Melissa
    February 27, 2013 2:15pm

    Hi David – thanks for this recipe, I tried them last night and, while the flavour was excellent, the poor things sank quite a bit in the middle. There’s really nothing sadder than a sunken magdalena! I might have overfilled the cases a little (I only made twelve but my cases were bigger than standard muffin tin liners). Any ideas? Also I’m curious about the large amount of baking powder in the recipe? Thanks, Melissa

    • February 27, 2013 2:29pm
      David Lebovitz

      Overfilling pans when baking can cause sinking. Because the batter goes up, but then gets too heavy, so collapses in a bit. Too much baking powder can cause that to happen as well. I made these three times and didn’t have that problem but you can dial down the baking powder a bit if you want to try it – maybe 2 teaspoons? (As mentioned in a previous comment, I was concerned about that as well but didn’t have any issues – but be sure to use aluminum-free baking powder to avoid any tinny taste.) If you try it with less, let us know how they turn out.

  • February 27, 2013 2:54pm

    Sophie is right, the Spanish version definitely looks HEALTHY, lol – shall try them – I too have a ton of cupcake paper ‘foils’ – the metal baking tins I also bought in a moment of mental illness have already gone to my sister who is baking with her 2 small grand children… she makes so much better use of them than I ever would!
    Thank you and Thank You Sophie for this very tempting recipe.

  • ClaireD
    February 27, 2013 3:28pm

    David, we had a bountiful harvest of pecans this year and I still have many left. Could I substitute pecans in this recipe instead of the almonds/hazelnuts/pistachios?

  • walker
    February 27, 2013 10:20pm

    Has anyone tried subbing the olive oil with coconut oil or a mix of coconut/olive oils?

  • February 27, 2013 11:18pm
    David Lebovitz

    ClaireD: I love pecans, although am not sure how they would work with the olive oil. I would use an olive that wasn’t so strong with the pecans, if you go that route.

  • February 27, 2013 11:20pm

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who always walks around the house searching for something to eat. I have to hide my cookies in the freezer or I would probably end up eating an entire batch!

  • February 27, 2013 11:26pm

    I do like using nuts instead of flour in this recipe, and the olive oil instead of butter sounds interesting. Thanks for the share.

  • nina
    February 27, 2013 11:26pm

    Hola Maria Jose,
    En mi pais de C.America nos referimos a cualquier nuez, “nuez” talvez porque no tenemos “walnuts” . El diccionario de La Real Academia Espanola describe la palabra para ambos usos, siendo “nogal” nombre de “walnut” Pero como sea, cada pais hispano tiene diferente terminologia cuando se refiere a ingredientes alimenticios.
    Sorry David, I couldn’t explain this in English or it would be”lost in translation”:)

  • Jude
    February 27, 2013 11:38pm

    Could you use all pistachios? I just bought alot.

  • Vava Hogan
    February 28, 2013 1:19am


    Even if I didn’t like to bake or eat I would read your blog for the fun of it. You make me laugh out loud! Thanks for that … and for the fudge recipe.

  • Sarahb1313
    February 28, 2013 2:48am

    Thank-you!!! On more than one front!
    I just don’t get the cupcake thing. I love cake but not cupcakes. I too wander through the kitchen grabbing dates, prunes, pistachios, almonds, spoonfulls of peanut butter (may dipped into the chocolate chips on occasion…)

    Nuts? Nut flour? What’s not to love?!
    These are perfect and will be next on the baking list.

  • February 28, 2013 5:42am

    Oh David, they look scrumptious. Can’t beat pistachios (in ice cream or cupcakes or whatever else). Never has a photo smelled so heavenly!

  • Vanessa
    February 28, 2013 7:13am

    First comment after at least 3 years of following your blog: This post was SO entertaining!

  • Estelle
    February 28, 2013 7:37am

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful for our gluten intolerant friends if these could be made without any wheat flour using only nut flours. What are your thoughts?


  • James
    February 28, 2013 9:58am

    I’m sure it’s not a rule, but isn’t the general idea that muffins are more closely related to pancakes and cupcakes to cakes? Every muffin recipe I’ve ever seen has had the wet and dry ingredients mixed separately and then added together at the end. Cupcakes seem to be done with the creaming method of beating sugar and butter before add eggs and then the dry.

    But I’m sure there are exceptions.

  • Ana
    February 28, 2013 4:41pm

    Great recipe, love Magdalenas!
    What type of olive oil did you use?
    Is mild-flavored olive oil a regular or light olive oil?

    • February 28, 2013 4:53pm
      David Lebovitz

      The first time I used Puget, which was quite strong – although I didn’t mind it (actually, I liked it), it might be overwhelming for others. The second time I used a grocery store brand, as I often do when testing recipes. It was a lot milder-tasting. I don’t quite know what “light” olive oil is, but you can use whatever, depending on how much you want your Magdalenas to taste of it.

  • Linda
    February 28, 2013 6:38pm

    I think there is a great opportunity for a new book – and a future fueled by endless mai tais – without jumping on the “cupcake bandwagon”. Although you are able to nibble nuts and chocolate throughout the day, “women of a certain age” (and oh, honey, there are a lot of us) can not even pass by the nuts and chocolate without gaining weight. So I’ve recently been attempting to down-size my baking without giving up the awesome DL and Dori Greenspan recipes I love. The Plan: swap two 9″ round cake pans for four 6″ round cake pans. But without the extensive recipe testing you do, I will be trialing every time I bake. Wouldn’t it be awesome to have a 6″ cakes book? Or a 4″ cakes book? Or a 3″ cakes book? Aside from resorting to high school math to determine the area of the pans, following general advice to reduce baking times and test for doneness, do you have any suggestions on making the conversions?

  • February 28, 2013 9:16pm

    I remember seeing Magdalenas for breakfast on my honeymoon in Spain, eons ago. I thought then, and still think after reading your recipe, that they are a Spanish version of French Madeleines (same name, right?!). Cake for breakfast or any time of day works for me. I plan to try your recipe, soon, with almonds and gluten-free flour – I think it will be wonderful. Thanks for this post!!

  • Mari
    February 28, 2013 9:52pm

    I’m not completely sure about this, since my Spanish is not that good, but I thought that ‘frutos secos’ would translate as dry fruits, whereas ‘frutas secas’ are dried fruits. I think the Spanish consider anything that grows on a tree and is edible as a fruit and you have a wet variety (peaches and oranges) and dry one, (walnuts, almonds etc.)

  • March 1, 2013 1:22pm

    I hate cupcakes and only just tolerate muffins. This recipes sounds delicious, I wonder what it’d be like baked in a square pan and cut up like bars of cake. That’s how I will try it, thanks!

    • March 1, 2013 2:40pm
      David Lebovitz

      That should work, although it might sink a bit in the middle – which won’t affect the taste. Check back and let us know the results!

  • Ginger Martin
    March 2, 2013 10:20am

    Gluten Free adaptation

    I made these Gluten free, only by exchanging the all-purpose flour for Food Philosopher’s Gluten Free Brown Rice Flour Mix in Annalise G. Robert’s Philosopher’s Gluten Free Baking Classics, and 90g of almond flour for the toasted nuts that are ground up with the flour.
    There was no need to add xanthan gum, these came out beautifully and everyone who had one loves them (Ceoliac or no).

    As an American living in Australia, I appreciate your blog of learning to cook in another culture that isn’t alien…but certainly different!
    (and the recipe has completed a circle of sorts…[an Australian living in Barcelona writing a cookbook recipe that is adapted by an American Pastry Chef living in Paris into a recipe for a blog which was then adapted by an American Ceoliac living in Australia…although mine wasn’t much of an adaptation…])

    Thanks so much for your contribution to my kitchen!

    Best Regards

    • March 2, 2013 11:48am
      David Lebovitz

      I think with the high-proportion of nut meal/flour, this is a good candidate for a gluten-free version. Thanks for reporting back!

  • Kristin
    March 2, 2013 4:59pm

    that’s a very nice recipe. I dialed down the amount of sugar to 3/4 cup, I don’t like the “American sweetness” and I think it’s just nicer this way. Additionally I added a little ground vanilla.
    Baking time and temperature worked out well.

    • March 2, 2013 5:06pm
      David Lebovitz

      Glad it worked out for you with less sugar. I considered dialing it down as well, but found them just right.

      (Just a note that this isn’t an American recipe, but actually a Spanish/Catalan treat inspired by a recipe from an Australian cook, Sophie Ruggles, who lives in Barcelona.)

  • Sylvie
    March 3, 2013 5:44am

    Thanks for the inspiring and funny post. Another gluten-free adaptation that worked very well – I used almond flour and buckwheat flour only (have learned how to substitute proportions through a chart) and cut the sugar in half and used brown sugar. They came out great! Plenty sweet. Put pignoli nuts on top. Anyway, the consistency and the olive oil taste were great. Thanks again, David!

  • mandi
    March 3, 2013 5:54am

    I just made these with almonds and pistachios, they tasted great.
    I reduced the sugar to half a cup and it was just sweet enough for me. I used a mixture of a mild flavour oil and olive oil and added a teaspoon of orange zest.
    I’ll make these again soon, thanks for the recipe!

  • March 3, 2013 5:22pm

    Just wanted to say I made them and they were so good that I blogged them too. Thanks for sharing these little cakes.
    I’m not someone who likes cakes much but these I definitely liked. They were gone pretty quickly after I baked them.
    I don’t get aluminium free baking powder here so I cut down the baking powder to 1 1/2 tsp, the eggs by one, added some lemon zest and adpated your recipe a little more.

  • Naraleska
    March 4, 2013 10:11am

    Hey David, I have heard from you from Helen 101cookbooks already before, she speaks nicely about your recipe books, and I have to confess I have looked at your blog a couple of times ;) but I have never really taken the time to really read through and I must say I really like your writing style, I feel like I am standing in the kitchen right there with you making the recipe. Appreciate your honesty and the heart touch you put in to it. About the dried fruits, well, I have never really thought about it before, but now that you mention it, it could be because they do grow in trees like fruits do but this one in fact are dried, not juicy and sweet. I am a Spanish speaker, but honestly who questions its own language?? hehehe interesting thought for sure. Another thought that would make this recipe even more full of taste would be to replace the oilve oil for coconut oil, hmmm. I love cooking and baking. I live currently in Germany and totally understand how challenging it can be to re-invent recipes due to the difference of the ingredients found in Europe, still the journey is exciting :P

  • Dana
    March 5, 2013 5:18am

    Thank you David for a great recipe. I cut the ingredients by third and ended with six nice little magdalenas and already ate two :) I used hazelnut meal for the ground nuts and added a mixture of slivered almonds, pistachios and hazelnuts on top. I also soaked some currants in grand marniere and added them to the top of one magdalena for experimenting. They provided interesting texture. This is one recipe I will be making time and again. Merci!

  • Elisabeth
    March 8, 2013 9:40am

    Thank you for this awesome recipe!

    My 9-year old daughter thinks they are incredible (as do I) and has taken to threatening anyone who dares touch one. This morning caused a near-panic when she discovered that there were only 5 left…

  • Ellen
    March 11, 2013 7:43pm

    Hi David,

    I’ve kept this recipe up on my computer since you sent the blogpost. I’ve been thinking about adapting it for Passover. My general idea is to substitute matzah cake meal for the flour and skip the baking powder. From there, my big question is whether three eggs, separated so the whites can be used as leavening, is enough, or would I need more egg whites?

    If you have time to comment, I’d love to hear any suggestions you might have. I’ll probably try them out next weekend.

    Ellen, San Francisco

    • March 12, 2013 12:15am
      David Lebovitz

      I would probably not add more egg whites (although hard to say for sure), but just make the cakes and try separating them out as you suggested. They may sink in the middle, but I am sure they will still be delicious.

  • Ellen
    March 12, 2013 7:25pm

    Thanks David. I’ll let you know how they work out.

    Best, Ellen


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