Thursday, May 22, 2008

In search of....confidence.

That title sounds like I need therapy, or at least a decent self-help book. And maybe I do, but that's a whole 'nother Oprah show! No, this is a request of my readership to help me do a little culinary detective work. Now that we've got the Levain chocolate chip cookie sorted out, I need another copycat project. Actually, the Levain discussion continues over on Anna's blog and elsewhere, as someone decided to remake it with yeast as a leavener. I might give it another try, but the baking soda version was so wonderful, I figure, what's the point? Oops, I've gotten myself off track...

First, a wee bit of orientation to the topic (can you tell that I teach public speaking?). Years ago, I was hopelessly searching for a brioche loaf. Martha had put it in my mind that I needed to try making French toast with a loaf of brioche (she gets hers from Balthazar in NYC, of course). And this was long ago when I was too nervous to try and make it myself (hmm...maybe confidence is the theme after all!). So I searched many bakeries, but if I found brioche at all, it was always the traditional molded ones, not loaves. That was until I moved here and began exploring the bakeries in Montreal. One of the first boulangeries/patisseries that we discovered was a chain called Au Pain Doré, and lo and behold, they had a nice loaf of brioche for me! Joy of joys! A happy ending to be sure, IF that were the point of this anecdote. (Teacher, teach thyself that brevity is the soul of wit!)

The point is, and I do have one, is when I went to the counter to pay for my brioche loaf, they had a little basket of these delectable-looking cookies next to the cash register, and we bought a couple to try. They were called confidences, and they were sort of crusty and flaky on the outside, but so delicate and soft on the inside, not unlike angel food cake. Then they were sandwiched together with a rich chocolate ganache and dusted with powdered sugar. So good! Ever since then, probably for eight years now, we regularly stop at Au Pain Doré to procure les confidences. However, the last time we bought some, they had really shot up in price. With the cost of flour and eggs through the roof, I suppose it's to be expected. But by the time you factor in the gas money to get us to Montreal, those become some seriously expensive cookies! So I'd really like to be able to make them at home. And that, friends, is the thesis of my narrative.

Pictured here is the object of our desiring (I should mention that this is my roommate's favorite cookie in the world!). Sadly, extensive internet research and a sweep of the many cookbooks on my shelves have yielded no information about a cookie or pastry called confidence. I am guessing that they are a close cousin to French almond macarons--not the American macaroons made of coconut, but not exactly like macarons either, as these are crackly on top, not smooth. And though they surely involve egg whites and sugar, they are more than just straight meringues. There is some sort of flour, I think, maybe something delicate like rice flour, or perhaps it's almond flour. In fact, someone over at Egullet suggested that they looked very similar to Italian amaretti cookies, so maybe almond paste is involved? This is where I turn to you, the foodie community, to help me identify this cookie and, hopefully, a recipe that would yield a similar result. Can anyone help me out? I mean, come on, I shared the world's best chocolate chip cookie recipe with you. Don't you owe me now? Pay it forward, people! (Tee hee.) Seriously, though, if you can offer any clues to point me in the right direction, I would really appreciate it.

Here's what they look like inside with the ganache, though an Egulleter in Montreal reports that Au Pain Doré is now offering a version with lemon curd inside! Oh, man! Now I'm gonna have to make a trip to Montreal on the weekend--unless one of you can help me figure out a recipe before then. So please, I beg you, put your thinking caps on and load up the comments with your opinions and suggestions. I thank you in advance.

7 comments:

Domestic Chicky said...

I have seen them AND the recipe, but cannot think for the life of me where. I have a bunch of vintage cookbooks, so that will be my first stop - :-)

Anonymous said...

Both sites below mention "les confidences" from Au Pain Doré.....may be of some help...

http://www.recettes.qc.ca/forum/message.php?id=209497&categorie=1

http://rollande-desbois.riaq.ca/default.asp?id=3&ACT=5&content=166&mnu=3

Jessica "Su Good Sweets" said...

These look similar to the almond macaroons that I've made.

Anonymous said...

I sent you an email with a recipe that sounds like it may be very close to what you are looking for.

Winnie

Sophie said...

We'd like to invite you to participate in our July berry recipe contest. All competitors will be placed on our blogroll, and the winner will receive a fun prize! Please email me, sophiekiblogger@gmail.com, if you're interested. Feel free to check out our blog for more details. (Click on my name in the message to visit our blog. :)

Jessica said...

Did you ever find the recipe for the confidences? We discovered them on our first trip to Montreal a few weeks ago and I've craved them ever since!

me said...

Has anyone been successful in obtaining the recipe for the confidences? I have just tried them in Montreal this weekend, and I cannot get them out of my mind! Please provide the recipe.
Thanks.