Par-ee holds the key to your heart,
And all of Par-ee plays a part.
Just stroll two-by-two
Down what we call “la rue!”
And soon all Par-ee will be
Singing to you!
Quite a long time ago, I slipped a photo of some rather delicious cookies, the Crêpes Dentelle de Quimper, into a Paris post about tears and tofu. I mentioned that while these biscuits/cookies were très bien, there were others that blew the Crêpes Dentelles out of the [delicious] water. Louise expressed interest in these tastier cookies, and as she’s now in the city where the cookies exist, I decided it was high time I followed through on my offhand comments.
Pain Aux Amandes
First, the runner-up. (Let’s call the Crêpes Dentelles the second runner-up.) Slight disclaimer: I brought a packet of these cookies home for my brother, and he didn’t love them quite as much as I’d hoped. As a result, there’s a small chance that my love for these particular cookies springs from the fact that I rarely eat cookies, and so my tastebuds might’ve over-reacted to the combination of butter, flour, and sugar.
Or else I simply have a more sophisticated palate than my brother. After all, he once finished up a bowl of ice-cream at Sizzlers then immediately went back for pickled onions. (Oh, who am I kidding, I’d do the same. I love me some pickles.)
The Pain aux Amandes are made from farine de blé, sucre candi, beurre, amandes, sel, and poudre à lever, which my French language/research skills translate into flour (Camille, is this a special kind of flour?), crystallised cane sugar, butter, almonds, salt, and baking powder. Pretty simple and trustworthy set of ingredients there, particularly for store-bought cookies.
I wasn’t expecting much when I tasted these. I wasn’t even sure why I’d bought them. But my heavens, the buttery depth! The muscovado taste of the sweet sugar! The toasted almonds! There was a depth to the flavour that mere caster sugar and melted butter surely couldn’t create in their natural state. There must have been caramelising and browning involved. Surely.
Oh, and that photo? You better believe I ate the whole contents in less than half an hour. The second time I opened a box of these was the night I met P.PersuasivePilot. Being an incredibly selfless person, I shared. And you know what? There may be nothing better than talking for hours to someone, handing over cookies at regular intervals, and having said cookies accepted by said someone at said intervals with nothing said about it. Like it’s the most natural thing in the world.
Croquant de Cordes
If the Pain aux Amandes were natural, then these Croquant de Cordes were supernatural. Looking at the picture on the box, I expected to find basic wheat-flour thick cookies hiding inside. Oh no. No no no. These cookies were crackly wafer-thin see-through creations of roasted almond nubbins held together by shards of toffeed-caramelised-sugar-overwhelming-how-can-this-taste-so-good-heaven.
Have you ever walked around a market where someone is making caramelised nuts in the open air? You know that heady aroma of melting, changing, darkening sugar mixed with the rich scent of roasting nuts? Imagine the epitome of that aroma, then taste it.
That’s what these cookies were to me. I refuse to tell you how many of these boxes I bought and ate in single sittings, but I can tell you that I didn’t regret a moment of doing so. Sure, there’s probably a baker out there in Paris making these fresh, but I don’t know if I’ve ever tasted more delicious cookies, packaged or not.