Today we introduce a Norman specialty that may be lesser known, the Mirliton. It is a small gourmet pastry, which will delight young and old.
The Mirliton of Rouen is a culinary specialty of Normandy. It is a dessert consisting of almond-based tarts. Made with simple and inexpensive ingredients, The basic recipe includes an almond and eggs filling with vanilla and orange flower water. It has a very pleasant mixture of flavours and textures. The Mirlitons can be eaten both warm and cold. It can also be made with fruit. Depending on the season, you may choose pieces of apricot, apple or red fruit.
The Mirliton desert originates from Rouen and was mentioned in recipe books dating from the second half of the 19th century. However, note that there are also Mirlitons in Pont-Audemer, about 35 miles away from Rouen in Calvados territory, which come in the form of a Cigarette Russe, filled with praline mousse. Not to be mistaken!
The pastry is making a strong comeback in bakeries, especially in Christophe Cressent bakery, on the place du Vieux Marché and in Rue Armand-Carrel in the heart of the city.
Coming from a long line of artisanal bakers, Christophe Cressent received the “Meilleur Ouvrier de France” title in 2000, reflecting his standard of perfection. He embraced the profession at an early age and continues the tradition of the Mirliton from a rigorous selection of raw materials. This artisan at heart likes to keep the baking tradition but also to experiment, playing with textures and flavours. He offers two versions, one plain and one with apple.
The recipe, which consists of sugar, vanilla and melted butter, can easily be reproduced at home in a few minutes. See the traditional recipe for Mirliton below:
Ingredients: 1 puff pastry / 2 eggs / 60 g almond powder / 60 g powdered sugar / 1/2 vanilla pod / 25 g melted butter / 1 lemon or orange peel / Icing sugar
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 210°C. Roll out the puff pastry with a rolling pin and line buttered and floured tartlet moulds with the pastry. Prick the pastry with a fork.
Step 2: Break the eggs into a bowl and add the caster sugar, almond powder, melted butter, vanilla seeds and zest. Whisk together. Fill the moulds three quarters full with this mixture. Sprinkle with icing sugar and bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
Leave to cool and Bon Appetit!
I discovered this traditional Norman desert while taking part to the Rouen “Gourmet” tour. The tour will take you on a discovery of the gastronomic history of the city and its culinary emblems with, icing on the cake, several tastings at local shops along the way. Do not hesitate to get in touch with Rouen Tourist Board to learn more about the Gourmet Tours, soon available.
Text by Emmanuelle Châtel