Calissons: An Unusual but Classic French Confection to Make at Home
I first tasted Calissons near Lyons when I was visiting France at age 13. I thought they were odd, but then again I didn’t like marzipan when I was young and now I find it addictive. They are chewy, with a slight crunch from the confectionery glaze and the flavor is floral, nutty and fruity all at once; maybe more of an adult candy. My host mother served us strawberries with crème fraiche and sugar cubes to crunch on for breakfast. That was a treat I could identify with! But I did bring some Calissons home because I knew they were rare and elegant and my Mom loved them.
They are not too difficult to make, however, and this is a huge but, sourcing the candied melon outside Europe is problematic. If you find a good source, please let me know! An alternative is to make your own (use Google Translate for this French recipe).
The pointed, oval shape is classic but you could cut them into whatever shape you like. Note that there is no headnote from the author. Check out the Montélimar Nougat, also from the wonderful book, A la Mere de Famille: Recipes from the Beloved Parisian Confectioner. Read the complete book review as well.
Excerpted from A la Mere de Famille: Recipes from the Beloved Parisian Confectionerby Julien Merceron, published by Chronicle Books, 2014. Photographs by Jean Cazals.
Prep time 30 minutes
Resting time overnight
- ⅔ cup candied melon
- ¼ cup candied orange peel
- 4 or 5 drops orange flower water
- 2 cups ground almonds or almond meal
- 11/2 tbsp honey
- ½ cup superfine sugar
- 3 tbsp water
- 1 sheet of wafer paper
- 1 egg white
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- MAKING THE CALISSON PASTE : Add the candied fruits and orange flower water to a food processor and process to combine, then add the ground almonds and honey and pulse to incorporate. In a medium saucepan, combine the superfine sugar and water and cook over medium-high heat until the syrup registers 250ºF on a candy thermometer. Pour the hot sugar syrup into the food processor and process for about 2 minutes, until the mixture forms a smooth paste.
- ASSEMBLY: Turn the paste out onto the sheet of wafer paper. Cover with a sheet of parchment paper, then roll out the paste with a rolling pin to a thickness of ½ inch. Remove the parchment and allow the paste to dry overnight at room temperature.
- MAKING THE ICING: In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg white and confectioners’ sugar. (The icing must be smooth and spreadable, and neither too hard nor too soft. If too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar; if too thick, add more egg white to achieve the correct consistency.) With a pastry cutter or knife, cut the desired shapes. Spread the shapes with icing using a small offset spatula, set them on a baking sheet, and place in the oven for 5 minutes to dry. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. (Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.)
Variation: To vary the flavor, you can add other candied fruits or replace some of the candied orange with dried fruit such as dates, apricots, and figs.