In December, I received samples from the Dana Confection Company. These hand-made confections, as much as I wanted to just jump right in, had to wait. I had too much holiday activity swirling all around. The unique confection samples sat on my desk, waiting for me to come back down to earth. Meanwhile, I had a visiting granddaughter (during the Christmas holidays) spy the sweet little boxes. When I told her what was inside, she was curious. “Why not?” I thought.
We tried the handmade calissons, taking a tiny bite from each one. With her five year old palate, the flavors were bright and exciting. It was she that nailed each one before I could. And then, I wrapped them back up and waited.
With this being Valentine’s Day, I decided that this is a great time to share something wildly delicious. Want to make the love linger, give them a try, post Valentine’s Day. (I’m now thinking ahead to Easter, though!)
Dana Confection Company is a French confectionary based in Brooklyn. They make rare, French sweets called ‘calissons,’ using locally-sourced ingredients. Primarily made from fruit and almonds, it’s a great pairing for any of you who are looking for an alternative to dark chocolate and red wine.
I know chocolate is the sweet of choice today, so just chalk this one up for your next sweet tooth craving, like tomorrow… And learn how delicious these little confections are with – YES – red wine.
I decided to pull an older bottle of wine for the pairing. I wanted something where tannins would be softer; something that would interfere less with the experiment. It was a 2012 Stemmari Cantodoro. And it worked really well.
The 2012 Stemmari Cantodoro is a blend of 80 percent Nero d’Avola and 20 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine has flavors of black fruit: cherries and ripe blackberry. Hint of mocha, for you chocolate lovers, and the tannins were still present, but the sweetness of the confections really softened and rounded out the wine.
Now to the delicacies…
From Dana Confections Website:
Calissons are a rare sweet originating from 16th century Aix-en-Provence and are comprised of two delightful layers: the first, a chewy and subtly sweet fruit and almond blend that brings out the best flavors of the season, and the second, a delicate layer of royal french icing for an extra bit of sweet and crunch. They are traditionally made with candied Provençal melon.
Their flavors change with the seasons, so every season is a new adventure. Our base ingredients are almond, fruit, sugar, powdered sugar, non-GMO glucose, egg white, salt and natural flavors. And… they’re gluten free. They are also not sticky sweet… They’re as delicate as lavender, flavorful enough to satisfy a sweet tooth, and yet savory enough to satisfy une vie douce, as they would say in Provence.
Tasting Notes, all with the purple, white, and green treasures
Cherry Star Anise ~ This one would go well with an older Petite Sirah.. The hint of rose is really lovely, the confection smooths out whatever tannins exist.
Melon Blossom ~ “We grow our own fresh herbs and soak them in syrup to extract their flavor before combining them with our sweetened fruit.” Their delicate white confection would pair well with a Pinot Noir, adding a touch of enrichment to oak’s vanilla experience.
Rhubarb Lavender ~ This rhubarb lavender calisson (which Rachel Dana grows herself) is one that makes me want to share with a Gamay Beaujolais. They too, like Pinot Noir, are delicate in flavors and styles… a delicious pairing.
Wines with softer tannins and delicate flavors would be a great food and wine treat. A rule of thumb? Wines from Provence are ideal:
- Grenache Noir
Delicious Traite Finale ~ Nougat
This one was the Traite finale… A French-style treat is this olive-pistachio nougat, which is a great sweet and salty mix. Pistachios and black olives? Yeah, I thought, what? too. What a great surprise. It went well with the 2012 Stemmari Cantodoro, just like all of the others. You know how you are with potato chips? Yeah, it was like that. I couldn’t stop. It wasn’t about the wine any more. It wasn’t about over thinking it, either It was just pure enjoyment, shy of gluttony. I think I need a case of these, and write it off to the fourth meal of the day… dessert.
Dana Confection is a sweet (literally and figuratively) start-up company that should focus on selling to Williams-Sonoma. Yeah, they’re that good. Meanwhile, visit their site and order a few delicacies. What a great Easter hunt item for adults… Sophisticated sweets!
[Images from this blog post have been provided by the Dana Confection Co.]