Friday, January 18, 2013


Please don't tell anybody about this post. I believe it's the only place this side of the Atlantic were you will find anything like these pastries and it be nice if we could keep it our little secret.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Here's a little background...

There was a time when I lived in Center City a half a block away from the cutest little French cafe called Le Conversation (say that with a French accent). It was the real deal with fussy little pastries like croissant, palmier and Milanese. I particularly remember the Milanese; all crunchy hazelnuts on the outside, dense and chewy on the inside with a rich, nutty, buttery flavor. These were my salad days but I always made sure to treat myself to a Milanese when I got the chance because it truly is the little things that keep you going.

Times being what they were, one day the cute little cafe was there and the next it was gone gone, and with it my precious Milanese. Let me tell you, short of a trip to Paris, Le Conversation was the only place to get them. Would I never again feast on those sweet, spongy delights? I was just getting into baking then and I doggedly looked high and low for a recipe, checking every cook book and magazine and asking everyone I knew. There was no Internet back than (I know, can you believe it?!) so I was SOL. It was like this recipe was classified information.

Fast forward a year and I found myself working in a trendy eatery with my new best friend and mentor Vince. Vince was (and still is) a talented baker and pastry chef and he was training me as the breakfast baker. I had by no means forgotten about my darling Milanese so naturally I asked him if he'd ever heard of them fully expecting to get the usual blank stare. His responsive was something like, "Yea, I'v heard of them, I used to make them all the time when I worked at Conversation." Whaaaaaaaa??!! Well, don't think I wasn't all over him like icing on a cake to get me that recipe. Of course he did and was even kind enough to convert it from grams! 

Milanese are baked in little fluted tins which is certainly part of their charm. Lacking the tins you could use muffin tins or mini muffin tins, just make sure to adjust for a difference in the baking time.

Oh, and remember, let's keep this on the down low.

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 cup ground, toasted hazelnuts
1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup egg whites
6 T melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter and flour 6 large or 8 medium brioche tins and place them on a sheet pan (or you could also use a muffin tin). Combine sugar, ground toasted hazelnuts and flour in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl combine egg whites, melted butter and vanilla extract. 

Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture and whisk together just until combined. Do not over mix. Pour batter (it will be very thick and viscous) into prepared tins. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cakes are golden brown and spring back when touched in the center. 

When cool enough to handle remove from tins and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Milanese are best eaten fresh. Tightly wrap any uneaten portions and they'll stay tasty for a couple of days.

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  1. Thanks for sharing this secret recipe, it's safe with me! :) They look delish btw!

    1. Thanks petal, hope you try 'em, they are delish!!