Barbara Feldman Morse opens her charming yet practical cookbook, “Madeleines: Elegant French Tea Cakes to Bake & Share,” with clear directions for making this classic French cookie and excellent suggestions about the ingredients and equipment you’ll need (special baking molds, for one).

Next, she gives readers a recipe for classic plain madeleines, the cookie Marcel Proust catapulted to foodie fame in his masterpiece, “Remembrance of Things Past.” For those who aren’t familiar with it, a madeleine is a petite, shell-shaped teacake that makes a delightful accompaniment to tea, tisanes or coffee.

Morse’s compendium of 60 madeleine recipes – plus some recipes for glazes and embellishments such as candied violets – ranges from the traditional to the inventive. She offers sweet madeleines that incorporate fruit and liqueurs, as well as some that are dipped in chocolate, colored sugar, nuts or coconut.

Far more surprising are the savory madeleines that Morse recommends serving with meals. Recipes on the savory side include Chipotle Madeleines With Green Chilies, Pesto and Pine Nut Madeleines and Chevre Madeleines with Scallions and Sun-dried Tomatoes, to name just a few.

Morse intersperses the recipes and instructions with charming quotes, this one, for instance, from Julia Child: “I think careful cooking is love, don’t you? The loveliest thing that you can cook for someone close to you is about as nice a valentine as you can give.”

Speaking of which, since Valentine’s Day is almost here, and I want it to be sweet from start to finish, I decided to test a sweet recipe and chose the book’s Espresso Chip Madeleines. Confession: I had some mint-chocolate chips lurking in my pantry, so I substituted those for the chocolate chunks Morse calls for. Using the nonstick madeleine pans that she recommended and gently pressing the batter into the molds as she instructed produced perfectly shaped, easy-to-remove teacakes that were as pretty as they were tasty. I also tried baking some in an old metal madeleine pan I have, with fine results. Either way, it’s important to heed Morse’s reminder to prepare the pans properly, with either cooking spray or melted butter.

Morse suggests a small offset spatula to remove the teacakes from the molds, but I had no trouble easing them out with an ordinary spatula.

As Proust knew, madeleines come with a bonus. In his case, one taste transported him back in time and inspired a seven-volume novel that some consider one of the 20th century’s best works.

For American home bakers today, the fact that the madeleine remains relatively unfamiliar lends it a novelty that can make it especially memorable.

— ROSEMARY HERBERT

ESPRESSO CHIP MADELEINES

Yield: 18 madeleines or more, depending on the size of your molds

5 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, plus 4 tablespoons for pans (or use cooking spray)

1¼ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons instant espresso powder or more to taste

½ cup sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

½ cup whole milk

½ cup dark chocolate chunks, chips or mini-chips

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Coat 2 half-shell (madeleine) pans with baking spray or melt 4 tablespoons of butter and brush a little in each mold.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl and set aside.

In another small bowl, whisk the espresso powder with 1 tablespoon hot water to make a paste; set aside.

Place the remaining 5 tablespoons room-temperature butter and the sugar in a 2-quart microwaveable glass bowl or measuring cup. Microwave on low power for 1 to 2 minutes and then stir with a whisk until smooth.

If the butter is not melted, continue to microwave for 15-second intervals, stirring after each, until smooth.

Let the mixture stand for 3 to 4 minutes and then add the eggs, 1 at a time, whisking or beating with an electric mixer after each until completely blended.

Add the milk and blend well, then add the flour mixture, mixing until completely blended. Add the espresso paste, stirring well. Fold in the chocolate.

Using a ½-inch-diameter scoop or a teaspoon, fill the molds with batter until almost full. Gently press the batter to distribute it evenly.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the madeleines puff up and the tops spring back when gently pressed; be careful not to overbake.

Remove pans from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 2 to 3 minutes.

Use a small offset spatula, if necessary, to remove each madeleine individually. Let cool completely on rack.

Madeleines may be stored in a zip-close plastic bag, but be sure they are completely cool before sealing them in the bag.