26 February 2014

Making Jésuites, a French Patisserie Classic



Jésuites from the market in Old Cahors, 2008

Each visit to France has had its own flavor as we explored both city and countryside, north and south, examining the differences.

I love the constant street noise in Paris, even after midnight, but I also love the deep quiet of the dark countryside at 2 a.m.

Both city and country have one thing in common: Incredible outdoor food markets, filled with produce, cheese, meat and baked goods. The baked goods found in Paris seem a bit more inventive and elegant while the pastries of the south are rooted in tradition.


So it is with Jésuites, triangular-shaped puff pastries filled with frangipane (almond paste) and coated with powdered sugar or rich cream frosting.

Called Jésuites because they were once coated with chocolate (which would have resembled the long cassock of the Jesuit priest), the pastry triangles are a staple of the patisserie.

I tried making my own as a sort of Mardi Gras celebration, and while I made them the easy way, they turned out to be delicious.

Jésuites (makes four)
  • 1 8-ounce package crescent rolls (or package of puff pastry)
  • 1 can almond paste, softened (about two tablespoons per Jésuite)
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg white for an egg wash

Preheat oven to 375. 

Cut or separate obtuse triangles. If you are using crescent roll dough, the triangle will be already scored. (I mistakenly cut off the peaks of mine, but as you see from the photos shot in Cahors, Jésuites have long peaks. Sometimes I am obtuse.)

Once the almond paste is soft enough to work with, spread about 2 tablespoons evenly each on top of four of the triangles. Next, match the shapes with other four triangles, sealing the edges.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and placed the Jésuites on the sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 15-18 minutes, keeping on eye on them so they turn only a golden brown. Remove from oven. Coat with egg wash and then dust with powdered sugar.

Although the aesthetics of my first attempt left something to be desired, the texture and flavor were not unlike the Jésuite I first tasted in France. 

 Jésuites from my oven, Wisconsin 2014

Read more about Jésuites from the very knowledgable Marolyn at The Vagabond Gourmet. Her recipe is much fancier than mine, and I plan to try it next.

Jésuites remind me a bit of beignets. And since it is nearly Mardi Gras, I share this recipe from Nicole at Gluten Free on a Shoestring, which is hands-down the best blog for celiacs.


My first Jésuite, Cahors 2008
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9 comments:

Penny said...

These sound very easy! I don't remember seeing them when we were in Provence.

Mimi Johns said...

I have never seen them in Paris, either, at least I have never photographed them. I wonder if they are still common in only in rural France.

As a guidebook once put it, Cahors is "a sunny southern backwater."

I adore it, though.

Sharon said...

Your pastries look beautiful and delicious! If I use puff pastry instead of crescent rolls, should I cut it roughly the same size as a crescent roll? I'd really love to try making these!

Mimi Johns said...

Yes, roughly a 3x4x50inch obtuse triangle. Next time I'm going to use puff pastry myself.

The kitchen is one big laboratory.

Sharon said...

I want to live next door to you. Seriously! In the '70s one of my neighbors was trying to write a cookbook and I was the lucky lab rat.

Mimi Johns said...

What fun that would be!

Christine said...

My gosh, Mimi, you are posting so prolifically these days that I can't keep up and totally missed this one! I'm so glad I found it and will make these for Mr CC, using puff pastry, this weekend.

Mimi Johns said...

Puff pastry is the way to go!

I'm posting as sort of an experiment - to see if I can improve my food photography skills and revive this blog! I'm giving myself a year.

Alice D. Phalen said...

I have enjoyed jesuites purchased from the Intermarche in Lezignan.

Alice