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Recipe for Calisson d’Aix a Traditional Sweet

Culinary references to a version of calissons lead to medieval Italy but these sweets are commonly associated with Aix-en-Provence – Calisson d’Aix. This came after 16th-century farmers planted the first almond crops in the region. These delicious calissons have been consistently made in the same way for many generations. Traditional calissons have three layers; thin host paper on the bottom, the fruit-almond mixture and a light coating of royal icing on top. Typically, a soft-diamond shape a calisson is similar in taste to marzipan.

Candy might not be the reason you decide to visit Aix-en-Provence, but don’t leave town without sampling the famous Calisson d’Aix. These sweets, made with ground, local almonds (sweet and bitter) and a fruit paste blend of melon confit (preserved in sugar) and orange peel, were officially recognized as part of the city’s heritage in 1990.

We introduce students to many traditional French and Provencal recipes in our cooking classes and culinary holidays, including these sweet treats.

Calisson d'Aix Recipe

Calissons d'Aix

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A truly enjoyable treat to make and connect with bakers long ago. Patience will be your reward if you can let them sit overnight to set. And while this is a traditional recipe, it is by no means easy to master. So even if it doesn’t look perfect, it will taste just as delicious. Served alongside afternoon tea or at the end of a delicious evening meal, these sweet delicate Calissons will be a welcome addition to your baking repertoire.
Prep Time 30 mins
Resting Time: 8 hrs
Course Dessert
Cuisine French
Servings 2 dozen

Equipment

  • Food Processor

Ingredients
 
 

  • 3.5 oz Almond Meal (Almond flour)
  • 2.5 oz Icing Sugar
  • 3 oz Melon Confit (Candied Melon)
  • 0.7 oz Apricot Confit (Candied Apricot)
  • 1 tbsp Orange Blossom Water
  • 2-3 drops of Bitter Almond Essence
  • 2 sheets Papier d'Azyme (Wafer Paper)
  • 1 Egg White
  • 5.5 oz Icing Sugar
  • 1 drop of Lemon Juice

Instructions
 

Calissons Preparation:

  • In a food processor with the metallic blade, make a paste with the almond meal, melon confit and apricot confit.
  • Add the bitter almond essence and orange blossom water and continue mixing until smooth and creamy.
  • Lay down a sheet of parchment paper. Put the first sheet of wafer paper on it.
  • Cover with the almond mixture, and with your hand make it 1 cm thick (half an inch) and then add the second wafer paper sheet on top.
  • With a rolling pin, gently roll the top of the second wafer to obtain a uniform height.
  • Let dry at room temperature overnight or longer if possible.

Royal Icing Preparation:

  • Whisk the egg white and icing sugar for 2 or 3 minutes, then add a drop of lemon juice and whisk together.
  • Cut the Calissons with a sharp knife or use an oval-shaped cookie cutter.
  • Dip the top of each one of them in the icing sugar to get an even glaze.
  • You can also try to pour over your icing sugar mixture BEFORE cutting out the Calisson shape. Use the method that works best for you.
  • Allow the calissons to dry for one hour and reserve in the fridge the ones that you did not already consume.
Keyword Aix en provence, Calissons d'Aix, Ground Almonds, Melon Confit
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

More about Calisson:

Le Roy René factory needs some 200 metric tons of almonds annually to produce calissons d’Aix and nougats. As almonds are one of the key ingredients in these typically Provencal sweets, a reliable supply chain is critical to the operation. In 2016, 300 almond trees, which included 22 varieties, were planted around the Roy René museum and fabrication centre. The garden is a tribute to the almond growers of Provence to rejuvenate the local industry. Interestingly, not all the trees have survived, which speaks to the difficulty of growing almonds in Provence.

In 2020, Le Roy René celebrates a 100-year milestone in their fabrication of traditional calissons d’Aix and nougats. Much has happened in the last century at the company, including four owners, all of whom have added their mark to the organization. Learn more about the Roy René factory, museum and gardens outside of Aix-en-Provence.

Calissons d'Aix a Sweet Candy
This recipe takes time. It's a fun culinary project with a sweet result. You need to leave enough time (about a week) for the fruit paste to reach the right consistency.
Check out this recipe
Calissons d'Aix Recipe

Visit the statue at the end of the Cours Mirabeau in Aix-en-Provence honouring the man known as Good King René. Roi René of Anjou’s family lineage stretched from Sicily and Naples (his father, Duke Louis II, held the title of King of Sicily) to modern-day Spain (his mother Yolanda of Aragon). Jeanne de Laval was 21-years old when they married Abbey of St. Nicholas in Angers in September 1454. Legend has it that calissons were served at their wedding, and the new queen (his second wife) smiled.

Candy Rules

Today, you can find many calisson variations for sale with different flavours and coloured icings. However, the original (17th-century) Calisson d’Aix production follows strict guidelines:

Location: A manufacturer must be located within the Indication géographique protégée (IGP). These are the seven (7) approved communes: Aix-en-Provence, Eguilles, Meyreuil, St Marc Jaumegarde, Le Tholonet, Venelles or Vauvenargues.

Ingredients: According to Le Roy René’s website, “The calisson Aix must be manufactured from a crushed candied fruit and almonds blanched complemented by sugar syrup. The blanched almonds (minimum 32% of the pulp) carefully mixed candied fruit are crushed. Candied fruits account for 30% minimum of the dough. Melon, fruit mainly used (80% of candied fruit) is cultivated exclusively in Provence.”

Size and shape: The Calisson d’Aix is oblong and pointed at both ends. The calisson must have three distinct layers, a slightly granular texture, and no unnatural colouring or preservatives.

Calissoniers are members of the l’Union des Fabricants du Calisson d’Aix (UFCA) and adhere to standards of production. Who are the Confectioners?

Calisson d'Aix
This recipe was provided by a friend, who has tried and perfected it over the years. This is her version of the traditional candy. The Feuille d’hostie or unleavened host paper, is readily available in France. In other countries, you need to go to specialty cooking stores or Amazon (gourmet food section) for wafer paper.
Check out this recipe
Calisson d'Aix Almond Candy

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Cook’n With Class has been in operation since 2007 in Paris offering French Cooking Classes (in English), to visiting tourists and locals interested in learning about this very important part of French culture. The school offers classes from French Market to Bread Baking and Macarons. Chef Eric Fraudeau, who worked both in France and internationally, along with his wife Yetunde Oshodi-Fraudeau, opened their second school, Cook’n With Class Uzès in 2015 in the sunny south of France, this time focusing on Provençal and Mediterranean cuisine. They also offer a 5 day/7-night culinary holiday package (Week in Uzès), including accommodations, with tours, tastings and of course cooking.

A new addition to the Cook'n with Class repertoire are a wide range of options for online cooking classes for those of us who can’t make it to France but are still looking for an authentic French experience.

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