Crème de Calisson

Crème de Calisson

On a recent Saturday morning, Marie-Laure, Ludo and I embarked on a large-scale cooking-toy shopping expedition, ostensibly to get Laurence a birthday present. It was their first time experiencing the magic of E.Dehillerin, A.Simon and Mora, and we had a grand time, which culminated in a delicious lunch at Oliopanevino, a tiny Italian restaurant a stone’s throw from Dehillerin.

Among the absolute must-sees of the area is, of course, G.Detou. In addition to being a splendid place to buy baking supplies in bulk, G.Detou also offers a selection of great products in regular sizes – chocolate, jams and condiments – for a much more reasonable price than anywhere else.

And there, amidst the candied violets and the chocolate-covered almonds, stood this jar of crème de calisson. Calisson! Creamy! In a jar! If that isn’t the best idea in the history of mankind, I don’t know what is.

As I’ve mentioned before, calissons are almond shaped specialties from Aix-en-Provence (in the South of France), made with pâte d’amande (almond paste), sugar and crystallized melons, with a layer of feuille d’hostie (the thin wafer the catholic host is made of) at the bottom, and a crispy sugar coating on top. It is also one of my very favorite confections.

This crème de calisson is made by the most famous producer of calissons in Aix, la Confiserie du Roy René (King René’s candy store). About the company, it’s nice to see how they are keeping with the tradition, but have evolved into a modern business nonetheless : very uncharacteristically for such a small French company, they have acquired the domain name calisson.com, and have gone on to create a website that looks neatly professional (no broken links, no lame graphics, no “under construction” sign) and has plenty of content (in French only though). I am all too regularly appalled by the lack of Internet-savvy in most small French businesses, so I applaud the effort here. And really, how can anyone resist a candy company in which the CEO’s name is Maurice Farine*?

As for this crème de calisson, it is in fact nothing less than the luscious almond filling that’s inside my dear calissons, only creamier. Same ingredients, same slightly grainy texture, same golden color, same sweet, subtle, delightful taste. The label suggests simply spreading it on bread – a method which I have tested for you and enthusiastically approved – or adding it to crêpes and cakes. The website even offers a few tempting recipes. Crème brûlée à la crème de calisson, anyone?

* “Farine” means flour in French.

  • christoph

    Hi Clotilde,
    last saturday I also had the pleasure to discover Dehillerin. I was there with my dear wife to have a small look on my denominated birthday present (a mandoline, vegetables be aware in Juin you will be shaped in all possible and impossible forms). It ended up with the buying of some other absolutly necessary suppplies like shaping rings and and and. Definetly not my last visit there.

  • http://todrownarose.blogs.com rose

    one year ago, almost to the day, I tasted my first calisson. a memorable experience.

  • http://www.americandemeter.motime.com Karen

    creme de calisson sounds so scrumptious.

    as for the French shops’ lack of internet savvy, I somehow link this tendency to what I perceive as positive characteristics (regional, small, specialized).

    of course, I would love to dip my finger in a pot of calisson if only it were sold here in rural Pennsylvania! :)

  • Alisa

    Like most Parisian children, my six year old daughter does not go to school on Wednesdays. This morning, during my new ritual of reading your blog, while having my coffee, I read today’s entry about your lunch at Oliopanevino, and visits to all of the “equipment” stores. This sounded like a perfect day to me and my little girl. We followed your footsteps, and had a fabulous lunch and day. I will be going back. Thank you so much for the inspiration!

  • Hilary

    That sounds so delicious! I can’t wait to get back to Paris to do some shopping… I missed out on the kitchen stores when I visited in 2002. At any rate, I did a little research and the creme can be found at http://www.cooksshophere.com; I just ordered some! Now, if only I could find Christine Ferber confitures in the U.S.!

  • chika

    Hi there, I love your site – I check it back almost every day and relive all the goodies you have been enjoying!

    I had a chance to visit Paris earlier this month, and I had made a list of things and places I wanted to check out, with a lot of help from the information you have included in your site. Among them were E.Dehillerin and G. Detou, both of which were closed when I was there! What’s the story! Well, I am hoping to come back again in the near future, but in the meantime, the story of a jar of Creme de Calisson makes it even more shameful that I missed the shop’s business hours… it sounds soooo good!

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Christoph – Funny, I am also drooling over that 120 euro mandolin, and it is on my wishlist for future birthday presents as well! Lucky you!

    Rose – I probably had my first Calisson at too young an age to remember, but I can certainly imagine it would be a unique memory! In what circumstances did you get a chance to taste it?

    Karen – I see what you mean. I wouldn’t expect them to have an internet store or anything, just a simple no-brainer page that says who they are, what they do and how to reach them. I think it would make all the difference in the world, especially for foreign visitors!

    Alisa – Oh I’m delighted, thanks for telling me! Did you get anything from the stores?

    Hilary – You have to report back when you receive it, let me know what you think!

    Chika – Oh, so sorry you missed them! They do have very French opening hours, with a lunch break that lasts half the day, and a closing time at 7 sharp. Oh well, it gives you a perfect excuse to come back soon!

  • Alisa

    Clotilde,
    I did buy some little things; hard to find cake decorating supplies, party napkins, and nice little spoons for coffee. (I am preparing three birthday parties in May) By far, E. Dehillerin was the best of the four, like entering some secret fantasy world. I didn’t make it to G. Detou this time. However, each shop had something different to offer, and I have reasons to shop at each one, again and again, and again…. Oh, and I bought a fabulous olive oil at Oliopanevino, after a delicious lunch. My daughter, Maïa, is now asking me every morning, what does it say on Chocolate & Zuchini today? Where are we going next time?!

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