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« Baked Good of the Day, September 7: Acorn Squash and Honey Pies | Main | Sweet of the Day: Coffee Ice Cream »
Thursday
Sep062012

Sweet Story: How the Kouing Aman became the Queen of Salt Lake City

Kouing Aman, Les Madeleines

CakeSpy Note: Believe it or not, there's a sweet spot in Salt Lake City where the delightful French treat known as Kouing Aman (pronounce it "queen ahmann" in your Frenchiest voice, please) reigns supreme. It's at a bakery called Les Madeleines, where pastry chef Romina Rasmussen's version has won fans far and wide (even Oprah is said to be a fan!). But how did this happen? Here's the story of How the Kouing Aman became the Queen, written by the Queen of Kouing Aman herself, bakery owner Romina!

I wish I could tell you a story of one of my adventures that took me to Brittany, France where I discovered this hidden gem of a pastry.

It’s not as exciting as that. I discovered the Kouing Aman (or kouign aman) in a trade magazine. I like to stay up on what’s going on in the industry and was intrigued by an article I happened upon. I didn’t even make it right away. I put it aside to make it when I had time. Eventually, I gently nudged a regular customer to order some so I would have to make time. She did, and nothing has ever been the same.

The instructions wouldn’t work at this altitude (in Salt Lake City), so I adjusted the ingredients and technique. It took several batches to get them just right, but not so many that I wanted to give up.

At first I added them to our rotation of special viennoiserie, just once a week. At that point we were still undiscovered, so I only made eight at a time. Just eight! No one knew what they were. No one could say it. I didn’t expect it to go well.

Kouing Aman, Les Madeleines

The first few weeks I sampled a few out and it was unanimous love at first bite. The third week I got “in trouble” with a guest for running out, as she had driven a long way. The following it was because I'd put them out on the wrong day of the week. I ended up adding another day.

By the sixth week I was making them every day and people were making excuses as to why they were eating them so often – you know sick friends in the hospital and other such tales. We quickly nicknamed them “crack” and cautioned guests about their waistlines if they ate 2-3 per day. I once saw it almost come to blows over the last one between two ladies.

No matter how many I made, they’d sell out. I started limiting them to six/day without advanced orders. But this only made everyone want them more. At this point I was making way more than eight/day.

Eventually The Food Network found us and featured the Kouing Aman on Road Tasted with the Neelys and The Best Thing I Ever Ate. We started shipping them, and now I can say they’ve made it to all 50 states. Being on The Food Network was a business changing endorsement that I am very grateful for.

Kouing

CakeSpy Note: May we pause for a moment to observe that the box says "by giving BUTTER, you give your HEART"...? LOVE it!

Eight years later, the Kouing Aman isn't such a secret. You can get them in a handful of bakeries (four in Salt Lake and counting) in several major cities. Most recently they’ve been featured in O The Oprah Magazine and were named Food & Wine's top pastry of 2012. They're destined to become a classic.

Pastry Chef Romina, making Kouing Aman, Les Madeleines

To purchase Kouing Aman or to plan a bakery visit to Salt Lake City yourself, visit the Les Madeleines website!

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Reader Comments (2)

I have made these before and although they take some work and lots of patience, they're worth it!!
September 6 | Unregistered CommenterSusan
I've had kuoing aman all over the States and multiple times in France, but none of them compare to Romina's kouings at Les Madeleines. They are hands down the best I've ever had and are not to be missed!
September 11 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

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