Calissons d’aix are a centuries-old specialty of Aix-en Provence in southern France. The almond paste gives them a texture similar to marzipan, but they’re not as sweet.
- 500 g ground almonds
- 500 g caster sugar
- 400 g (1¼ cups) apricot jam
- 1½ tbsp orange-blossom water (see Note)
- 4 rice paper sheets (see Note)
Glacé royale (royal icing)
- 3 egg whites
- 400 g (2½ cups) pure icing sugar
- food colourings (optional)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chilling time 4 hours
Place ground almonds, sugar, jam and orange-blossom water in a saucepan and stir to combine. Place pan over medium heat and cook, stirring continuously, for 10 minutes or until the mixtures softens and just starts to come away from the side of the pan; take care not to let the mixture turn brown.
Line a 38 cm x 26 cm x 1.5 cm cookie pan with rice paper sheets and, using a greased spatula, spread over almond mixture to form a 1.5 cm layer. Using a lightly greased knife, score top with a diamond pattern, then refrigerate for 4 hours or until almond mixture is firm.
Meanwhile, to make icing, whisk together egg whites and icing sugar until smooth. Colour with food colouring, if desired. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until needed.
Preheat oven to 140°C. Using score marks as a guide, cut almond mixture into diamonds and spread icing over the top. Line an oven tray with baking paper, place calissons on lined tray and bake for 3 minutes or until icing just sets. Remove from oven and cool completely. Store in a single layer in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
• Orange-blossom water, also known as orange-flower water, is available from specialist and Middle Eastern food shops.
• Rice paper sheets are available from selected supermarkets, delis and cake decorating shops. They are not to be confused with rice paper wrappers used to make Vietnamese rice paper rolls. Despite their name, rice paper sheets are made from potato flour and not rice.
Photography by John Laurie.
As seen in Feast magazine, December 2011, Issue 4. For more recipes and articles, pick up a copy of this month's Feast magazine or check out our great subscriptions offers here.