Paris: Kouignettes at Maison Larnicol

by fiona on January 17, 2011

Kouignettes in St Germain Paris

Look up… do you see that lovely layer of thick, chewy caramel pooled at the bottom of a golden pastry laden with good, salty French butter? Say hello to the kouign (“kween”).

People flock to Paris for the macarons – Laduree alone sells upwards of 15,000 per day – and while these crispy, chewy melting stacks make them a wonderful vehicle for creative flavors (Pierre Herme’s “mogador” – passion fruit and chocolate flavor – is a must try), you are missing out on so much if you don’t look a bit farther than the colorful, orderly rows of perfectly puffed and sandwiched delicacies.

One of those less famous specialties, and something of a personal obsession, is the kouign amman – a Breton butter pastry somewhere between a croissant and a cake, representing the most perfect equilibrium of salty, sweet, flaky and chewy. So I was more than a little thrilled to see that the brand new 6th Arr. outpost of Maison Georges Larnicol (famous for their impossibly glossy and elaborate chocolate sculptures) featured an enticing window display of kouignettes (baby kouign ammans) with the macarons relegated to a case in the middle of the store (albeit a huge glass command center, featuring a dazzling horseshoe of orderly rainbow stripes).

Kouignettes in Window at Maison Larnicol, Paris

Their lineup of these little darlings includes pistachio, chocolate and raspberry, but the “Caramel Beurre Salé” version provides the greatest rush of deep, buttery burnt sugary heaven when you bite into them and I’m pretty sure triggers something in the addiction center of the brain. Made from a buttery laminated dough which is rolled in sugar, you can imagine the magic caramelization that happens as it all bakes together.

Kouignette from Maison Larnicol Paris

The kouign amman can be a little challenging to find outside of Northern France – at least the good ones. Several bakers I’ve talked to here in the US tell me that the kouigns just don’t taste right without French butter, so they refuse to make them. I feel so lucky to live in a city (Seattle) where Franz Gilbertson whips up warm, flaky and salty sweet kouign ammans at his Honore bakery every morning, but I’d love to know of anywhere else in the US (or anywhere outside France for that matter) that makes good kouign amman – leave a comment if you have the scoop! If you have a recipe even better – I’ve yet to find one that hits the spot…

The Saint Germain Maison Georges Larnicol is located at 132 Blvd Saint-Germain, 75006. They also have many other locations around France.

Chocolat Kouignette at Maison Larnicol, Paris

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer S. January 18, 2011 at 10:57 am

Lovely photographs – I’m a huge fan of these too! Try Les Madeleines in Salt Lake City – they specialize in the kouign amman and even do mail order…

There’s another place in San Francisco which I’ll post if I can remember the name!

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Natalie January 18, 2011 at 11:28 am

Patisserie Kouign Amann in Montreal. Don’t think they have a website but here’s the address:

322 Mont-Royal Est, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
514-845-8813

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fiona January 18, 2011 at 10:54 am

Thanks for these recommendations! I feel a trip to somewhere snowy coming on… ;)

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fiona January 18, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Thanks for the email tip Harper – this kouign-amann recipe is by Pierre Herme – a graduate of both Laduree and Fauchon and arguably one of the kings of French pastry. Can’t wait to see how it turns out (although I imagine it has much to do with, ahem, the skill of the baker if my previous experiences with laminated dough are anything to go by….).

http://www.salinesdeguerande.com/index.php?id=235&L=1

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David January 25, 2011 at 11:48 pm

The Colville Bakery in Walla Walla, WA also makes these.

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Georges larnicol pastry chef January 26, 2011 at 2:44 am

It’s funny m’y wife is from Seattle and born ni walla walla . We have thé programme to open few shop of kouignette ,small kouign amann ,and chocolate too in washington’state. G

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fiona January 28, 2011 at 2:14 am

Le monde est petit! That is great news – it would be amazing to have a Maison Larnicol store in Washington State – we don’t have anything like it. You will make a lot of people happy and hungry with your beautiful creations!

We would love to have a Hôtel Lulu/Mode et Chocolat in Seattle also ;)

Fiona

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Clare January 27, 2011 at 6:11 pm

I just spotted some at Le Rêve on Queen Anne today! Heading there for breakfast tomorrow, will report back…

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Clare February 4, 2011 at 4:43 pm

So I just tried the Kouign Amann at Le Reve today. Not very impressed – barely a hint of caramelization and way undersalted. Their other pastries were good though, and the Kouign is difficult to master…

Clare

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parisbreakfast February 17, 2011 at 12:38 am

My life is now ruined! I finally built up resistance to P Herme’s kouign amann) after years of temptation and downfall…
And now this!
And I am leaving in a few weeks
Lordie!!
merci
carolg

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DCJN April 8, 2011 at 11:39 am

You can also get it from http://www.cestdelectable.com

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jingtheory October 3, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Thomas Keller now offers it at the Bouchon Bakery in Beverly Hills!

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