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Nonnettes are French little round cakes made from gingerbread, honey, stuffed with orange marmalade, and covered with a fine sugary glaze.
They a part of my childhood, a gift that I received for St.Nicholas Day on December 6th (if you want to know more about St. Nicholas Day).
The Nonnettes take their name from “nuns”. In the Middle Ages, the nuns made their little round cakes in their monastery. They are recognized as a specialty of Dijon (Burgundy). Mulot & Petitjean is the oldest gingerbread factory in Dijon, a house founded in 1796.
In this recipe, it is possible to replace the orange marmalade with apricot jam or any other jam. My family tends to prefer the version with apricot jam, as the orange marmalade from the store in the U.S. is too bitter for us.
Nonnettes - French Gingerbread Cakes with Honey and Orange Marmalade
- 150 ml water
- 100 g sugar
- 200 g honey (I used Wildflower Georgia Honey Farm)
- 80 g butter (I used Plugra)
- 1 orange zest, from 1 organic orange
- 1 teaspoon five-spice powder or homemade pain d'épice spices(*)
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 160 g flour
- 120 g rye flour
- 2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tsp per Nonnette orange marmalade
To make the glaze
- 4 tablespoon icing sugar
- 1 tablespoon orange juice or Rum
- Butter and flour well, 8 ramekins* (or 12 cup muffin pan).
- Heat the water, honey, sugar, butter, and orange peel while stirring constantly. Remove from the heat at the first simmerings.
- Sift the flour, baking soda, and spices. Pour over the hot liquid while whisking to obtain a smooth batter. Leave for 1 hour in the refrigerator (*).
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Scoop the batter into the prepared ramekins (or muffin pans) with an ice-cream scoop and put 1 teaspoon orange marmalade on top of each nonnette.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs.
- Allow the nonnettes to cool in the ramekins for 15 minutes before unmolding them.
Prepare the glaze:
- Pour the sugar into a small bowl and stir well in the liquid with a fork. Brush evenly each nonnette with the glaze. Let completely dry before storing them in a tin box. Enjoy them the day after if possible.
- 20 g crushed cinnamon, powder or stick
- 2-star anise
- 10 cloves
- 10 grams of coriander seeds
- 7 g of anise
- 1 teaspoon ginger powder
- ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- Place all ingredients (except powdered spices) in the small bowl of a mixer (I used a coffee grinder). Blend.
- Add powdered spices. Mix.
- Use a fine mesh-strainer as needed to have a mixture without pieces.
- Keep in a small jar or well-sealed container.
Hello — I love Nonnettes after sampling them on a motorcycle trip in the Dijon region last August. You list baking soda in the ingredient list, but baking powder in the directions. May I assume I should use baking powder? It seems most European recipes use baking powder and, thankfully, not baking soda. Many thanks!
You are right in Europe we tend to use more baking powder instead of baking soda in our recipes. But in this particular type of bread “pain d’épices”, I used baking soda instead of baking powder. Why? because the baking powder has a tendency to raise the bread while baking soda which lightens the dough without inflating the bread in excess and makes it moister. It also allows obtaining a better caramelization, when cooking.
But if you are not a fan of baking soda you can always just put 1 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp of baking powder.
Thank you also for catching my eyes on my error of typo, I am going to correct that.
If you try this recipe let me know how it was. Thank you for visiting my website!
Francoise, I notice no egg is in the recipe, what is the texture of the cakes?
Hi, Mary, Nonnette is similar to spiced gingerbread loaf (“pain d’épices” in French). In the traditional recipe of “pain d’épices”, there is no egg! See this link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pain_d%27%C3%A9pices
This is an excellent recipe. I did not have the French spice mix, I used garam masala – a mild Indian spice mix, that is similar. A hit with dinner guests and with the Amish school children who walk by my house daily. Thanx for the excellent recipe.
Michael, Thank you very much I am so happy to hear this! I know garam masala because I love Indian food. What a great idea to use this spice in my nonnettes.
Can you substitute almond flour to make it gluten free?
Hi Lil, I am not sure that you can completely substitute all flours with almond flour, especially rye flour. This will affect the taste and texture.
Hi Lil, I’m not sure you can completely replace all flours with almond flour, especially rye flour. This may change the taste and texture of the Nonnettes.