Saint-Nicolas (2) : Gouter chez Gourmande, nonnette et darjeeling massala

Nonnette a la mandarine, the aux epices.
Today is Saint-Nicolas. In my old town, when I was a kid, that was a very important day. The day of children ! Saint-Nicolas, an old Orthodox style bishop and a mean butcher were around town, parading (a procession that was), visiting schools and any house we knew to deliver either huge bags of sweets, or sticks of wood to beat us. That depending on our taste, hedonist or masochist… or maybe not exactly. We’d all take the edible offer.

In old times, St Nicolas was bringing oranges, because that’s the season -not in my town we had no orange season, so they were imported. In Northern Europe, that was a rare and expensive sweet until quite recently. Other sweets are very old fashion because the tradition started in Middle-Age. There were lots of pain d’epices, ginger bread, well it’s “spicy bread” more exactly. Several types exist. Some are big loaves, like pound cakes, that you slice. Others, the most Saint-Nicolasish are flat semi-hard “boards”, cut in shape of the Saint or of his donkey, or both… and covered by a beautiful chromo (old style print) glued by anise flavored sugar. I posted my recipe in the last post. But that’s not my gouter (snack) today.

I made mikan nonnettes. Orange nonnettes are popular in Lorraine. They are “cup-cake” size tubular pains d’epices, filled with marmalade, and covered by some sticky stuff.

Mikan are mandarin oranges, now in season in Osaka. We are invaded, there are tons everywhere. So it’s easy to chop a few :


Throw into the home-bakery with a little yellow cane sugar and get a “slightly sweet” mikan jam.


For 6 pieces, I took 50 g of black sugar kurozato from Okinawa, a little honey, 1/2 cup of water and melted them together in a sauce pan. Added 170 g of flour (+ rice bran), baking powder and spices.

There are surely “pain d’epices” mix for sales, but powder spices don’t keep well, and you won’t use them for other dishes. I make mine : a small stick of Ceylon cinnamon roughly crashed, the tip of a clove (the stalk is too hard), the seeds from inside 3 pods of green cardamom, green pepper, a little grated nutmeg, anise seeds… in a mill. Keep the pods, stalks…

Add to the dough, add in 2 tbs of neutral oil (white sesame), then enough hot water to get :

Take a muffin/cupcake mold. In each, 2 tbs of dough, 2 ts of mikan jam, 1 tbs of dough. Bake. My oven found 40 minutes was well. I wanted them soft and let them 30 minutes.

You have kept the hard bit of clove and cinnamon, pods of cardamom, add a few leaves of Darjeeling tea (not your best first flush), in a tourist in China cup, to keep it warm. I places the cup on the oven. It doesn’t simmer (yuck !), just longly infuses.
Later, when the cakes are done, you get a warm mild spiced tea. You can even refill later.

Finishing the nonnettes : take the juice of 1/2 mikan, eat the other half. To the juice, add icing sugar and corn starch (1 tbs each) or if you prefer sweeter, only sugar. Mix well.
When you take the cakes out of the oven, they are very soft. They harden in a few minutes, so wait. But not too much as you want to paint them with the mix while they are still warm. Let them dry.

You can eat them the same day (while many other pains d’epices are not good just after baking). But they are better later, as spices develop flavor with time.

One nonnette :
Cal 163 F2.6 C33 P3.1

For the Gattaca-Avatar effect, I tried some LED light. That doesn’t affect the taste. They are delicious…

6 thoughts on “Saint-Nicolas (2) : Gouter chez Gourmande, nonnette et darjeeling massala

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