Sweet Calissons are a tradition in Provence. The origin of these small, almond flavoured biscuits goes back to the 1454 wedding of King Rene and Jeanne de Laval in the city of Aix-en-Provence, when it’s claimed the court confectioner created the recipe, The people of Aix claim that they make the best calissons!
Ingredients for 15 to 20 calissons
For the calisson biscuits
200g icing sugar
300g almond powder
3 tablespoons orange blossom water
160g candied orange
160g candied lemon
40g candied ginger
For the icing:
1 egg white
150g icing sugar
Plus: 2 rice paper sheets (wafer paper)
How to make Calissons
- Mix together the candied fruit (cut into small pieces first) and orange blossom until smooth and creamy. In a food processor works best.
- Separately mix the 200g icing sugar and almond powder, then add to the fruit mixture and mix together,
- Line a square or rectangular baking tray with baking (parchment) paper. Lay a sheet of rice (wafer) paper over the top. Spread the mix over the rice paper with a spatula. Place another rice paper sheet on top and roll the dough so you have a uniform layer of about an inch.
- Leave overnight at room temperature to dry.
- Remove the mix carefully by sliding a knife blade between the paper and the tin.
- Using a calisson cutter, cut the calisson shapes. If you don’t have one, which is highly likely, create your own calisson shape to cut around. It’s like a large eye shape (see photo above) about 2 inches long. Cut the biscuits out, pressing firmly to cut the two sheets of rice paper in one go.
Make the royal icing
- Beat the egg white and gradually add the icing sugar until you have a thick mix.
- Dip the Calisson in the mix, remove any excess icing and aim to get a smooth appearance if you can, or spread the icing over. It’s very difficult to get them to look like the ones the experts make. The good thing is that even if they don’t look as good (and mine definitely don’t), they taste delicious!
Then set leave for about an hour or dry in the oven for 5 minutes at 50 degrees. Then keep in an airtight tin.
More French biscuit recipes
Cormery Macarons – one of the oldest cookies in France, a speciality of the Loire Valley
Sweet sugary chouquettes – the ultimate in French snacks
Les Lunettes – jammy French biscuits
Nonnettes, little orange flavoured cakes that are a speciality of Burgundy