Calissons D’Aix from Payard Cookies by Francois Payard.
Calissons d’Aix are diamond-shaped orange-flavored almond cookies with a royal icing crust that provides a crispy textural counterpoint to the soft filling. They are unusual in that they require no baking. Traditionally the dough is spread on a type of rice paper, but the right type is hard to obtain, and I have found that this slightly simplified version is just as delicious. Likewise, although candied melon is often found in the classic version, it’s not an ingredient easily accessible in America, so I’ve made these without. Spreading the dough on the back of a baking sheet will make it easier to roll and cut and will guide you to shape it into a rectangle. Rather than focusing on shaping a perfect rectangle, however, focus on getting the dough to an even thickness of 1/4 inch. You might not end up with perfect diamonds for each calisson, but you can always keep any flawed ones as baker’s treats.
Makes about 50 calissons
- 1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons (160 grams) apricot jam
- 4 2/3 cups (400 grams) sliced almonds
- 2 cups (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup (100 grams) chopped candied orange peel (recipe below)
- 1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup (100 grams) confectioners’ sugar
- 1 large egg white
Make the dough: Line an inverted 13-by18-inch baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the jam until it is hot.
In a food processor, grind together the almonds and granulated sugar until the mixture is smooth. Add the jam and candied orange peel and process until smooth again. Depending on the size and power of your food processor, you might need to divide all the ingredients in half and process them in two increments, since the dough is very thick and can be hard to process.
Spread the dough 1/4 inch thick on the lined inverted baking sheet. If you need to, place a second piece of parchment or waxed paper on top and roll it out with a rolling pin, since the dough is thick and sticky. Let the dough cool completely.
Make the royal icing: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the confectioners’ sugar and egg white together on high speed until the mixture becomes thick and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Assemble the calissons: Spread a thin layer of royal icing over the top of the whole cookie. With a sharp knife, cut it into diamonds that are about 1 1/2 inches long. In between cuts, dip the knife into hot water and wipe off the excess water with a towel, to ensure that you get a clean cut. Let the icing set up fully, then use a small metal spatula to remove each diamond from the parchment or waxed paper. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 1 week, placing waxed paper between each layer to keep the calissons from sticking.
Candied Orange, Lemon, or Grapefruit Peel
- 1 orange, lemon, or grapefruit, scrubbed thoroughly
- 1 ¼ cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon (17 grams) light corn syrup
- ½ cup (120 grams) water
Cut the orange, lemon, or grapefruit into quarters. Remove the pulp and as much of the white pitch as possible. Place the peels in a medium saucepan, fill it with water, and bring to a boil. Drain the water, then fill the pot with fresh water and bring to a boil again. Drain and repeat this process a third time. Drain the water completely.
Combine the peels, sugar and corn syrup with the ½ cup (120 grams) water in the saucepan, and place over low heat. Simmer for about 1 hour, or until the peels become slightly translucent. Remove from the heat, and let the peels cool in the syrup. You can store the peels in the syrup, covered and refrigerated, for up to 2 weeks.