The Commercy Madeleine was born in the kitchens of King Stanislas around 1750. To satisfy their master's hunger, Stanislas' cooks tried to outdo each other in imagining new delights. We owe several famous desserts to them, such as the Ali-baba, the ancestor of the Baba au Rhum, a biscuit strongly flavoured with saffron and soaked in Malaga wine. The Madeleine certainly belongs to this heritage. From the Duke's kitchens, it passed to the salons at Versailles. Marie Leszczynska, daughter of Stanislas and Queen of France, had them served to her guests. After Stanislas' death in 1766, one of his pastrycooks set up on his own in Commercy with the secrets of the Madeleine.
Today, two businesses continue this tradition, "A la cloche Lorraine - Madeleines Grojean", and "La Boite à Madeleine".
Redcurrant jam at Bar-le-Duc
"Croquets" and "rochers" from Saint-Mihiel
There is an art unique in the world which has been practised at Bar-le-Duc for centuries: de-seeding redcurrant jam using a goose quill. This tradition is part of the production of an exquisite jam known as "Bar Caviar", exported throughout the world. The recipe has remained a closely-guarded secret. Taking the currants one by one between the thumb and forefinger, the de-seeders lightly pierce the covering of the fruit with a goose quill trimmed into a point and remove the seeds without damaging the pulp! Its fame quickly spread far and wide among princes and aristocrats, particularly at Court. Victor Hugo loved this sweet delight, and Alfred Hitchcock enjoyed some every morning. As for French President Raymond Poincaré, he introduced it to the table in the Elysée Palace.
You can visit a factory for a demonstration of jam-making, "Les Confitures à La Lorraine".
Gourmets often identify towns across France by their specialities, and in this regard, Saint-Mihiel offers two delicate delights which have registered trademarks: the "Croquets" of Saint-Mihiel and the "Rochers" of Saint-Mihiel.
French President Raymond Poincaré loved Croquets, and often asked his chauffeur to make a detour through Saint-Mihiel when he came to his chateau of Sampigny in the Meuse. Croquets were invented in 1854 by Charles Bourchette, a local confectioner from whom they got their name - they were called Petits Bourchettes. These Croquets are made of flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla and, especially, almonds, which make up around one third of the contents of the product.
The Rochers of Saint-Mihiel are reminiscent of the coral reefs which flank the northern entrance to the town. They were created in 1922, and have been listed in the National Heritage of Specialities since 1994. The Rochers of Saint-Mihiel are made of dark or milk chocolate and blanched, toasted and crushed hazelnuts, like the Croquets, have recently been included in the encyclopaedia of confectionery specialities of France. Morin the confectioner-baker will show you his specialities.
The "lorgnon linéen"
Confectionery from Ligny-en-Barrois: the "lorgnon" is a white or dark chocolate, filled with a redcurrant ganache. The Lorgnon recalls the economic activity linked to the manufacture of optical glass, and the jam-makers specialising in currant jam de-seeded using a goose quill.
At the Pâtisserie Voiriot and the Boulangerie Demée, you can try these delicious delicacies.
"Jeannettes" from Vaucouleurs
At the Pâtisserie Tommasi, you can try "Jeannettes", which are sweets made with chocolate, hazelnuts and caramel with honey.
"Baisers de Dagobert" and "Crottes de Satan" from Stenay
These are both sweets: Baisers de Dagobert are made of orange ganache covered with chocolate, and Crottes de Satan are almonds covered in chocolate. Michel Baumaux, baker, confectioner and chocolate-maker, is there to give you a taste.