La Toussaint is an important French holiday when you can observe religious practices, spend time with family, or simply take advantage of a few days off. You can enjoy La Toussaint niflettes either way! Here’s a bit of information on the holiday, and on the delicious traditional pastries called niflettes.
“Tous (les) saints”
La Toussaint can be read as Tous saints (All Saints), and is translated as All Saints’ Day in English. Set on November 1st, it’s un jour férié important (a major holiday) in France, celebrating the communion of saints, past and present. It is meant especially for those not officially recognized by l’Église (f.) (the Church), but serves also as an incentive for all believers to strive for la sainteté (sainthood). For most people, La Toussaint has less religious significant, and it is a chance to take some time off for two weeks.
Although many French people are now non-croyants (non-believers), those who are practicing Catholics may light des lampions (m.) (paper lanterns) or des cierges (m.) (church candles) in churches and cemeteries. Also, since the 19th century, there has been a custom of covering les tombes (graves) with des chrysanthèmes (chrysanthemums). Found in small or large flowers, yellow, red, white or fuchsia, chrysanthemums practically invade florists and the stalls of farmers markets during La Toussaint.
Niflettes: little traditional cakes for la Toussaint
From the city of Provins in Seine-et-Marne comes the traditional puff pastry enjoyed on la Toussaint, la niflette. Here is une recette très simple (a very simple recipe):
- 1 roll of puff pastry
- 4 oz of milk
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 oz sugar
- 1 T. flour
- Vanilla extract
- Confectioner’s sugar
Heat the milk. Whip the egg yolk with the sugar and a few drops of vanilla extract. Add the flour, mix well, and add the hot milk. Then pour the mixture into a saucepan, and thicken over low heat, stirring constantly. The cream will be ready when it becomes shiny. Put the cream in a container, let it cool and put in the fridge. Using a cookie cutter or a small glass, cut the puff pastry into 2.5″ to 3″ diameter rounds. On a sheet of baking paper, put two discs on top of each other and press in the center to form a hollow. Brush with egg yolk, then drop a teaspoon of the custard cream into each.
Preheat your oven to 180° C (350° F). Bake for about 20 minutes. Take out the niflettes, and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar before enjoying them warm.