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Couques V. Collard 1774 - Traditional biscuits

Couques de Dinant - An edible Souvenir from Wallonia, Belgium
Maison Collard’s claim to fame is a cookie so hard they have to print a warning on it.

Legend has it, during the great siege of 1466, the people of Dinant were starving and had only two things at their disposal: flour and honey. They made these into dough and baked it. Later, they began to stamp patterns into the hard dough, with brassware found in their kitchens.

In reality, there is little historical evidence to support the existence of the couque before the 18th century. Throughout the period, couques were decorated with depictions of important historic events.

Although the tough dough is no longer kneaded by hand, the cookies are still pressed into hand-carved pear wood moulds. Popular shapes include animals, fruits, and scenes of Dinant. Nowadays, sugar and spices are also frequently added to the mix.

Couques sold these days must be labeled with a warning advising people not to bite into the hard cookie. Instead, you are advised to dunk it in a beverage, to soften it, or break off a small piece and suck it. In fact, couques are traditionally given to babies to suck on while they are teething.

More Information: http://cheeseweb.eu/2013/08/flamiche-couques-de-dinant-foodie-favourites-wallonia-belgium/

The Cookie Molder
The man dressed in white and covered with flour firmly pushed the dough in the wooden mold. He picked up a brush and then brushed of the excess of flour as if he were a barber cleaning up after a haircut right before he whisked the black cape off the customer. Swiftly with a loud thwak he turned the mold over and out popped a perfectly formed Couques de Dinant. A specialty of the little river town named Dinant this cookie had played an important role in history and has managed to live on in present day.

This rock hard cookie is only made of two ingredients – flour and honey – and was used to replace bread when there was a shortage in medieval times. We were told to suck on the cookie as they are too hard to bite. They are also subsequently used to satiate teething babies or simply enjoy their complex design molds as a decoration. At Couques de Dinant V. Collard they’ve been making this recipe since 1744. These hard cookies are here to stay as part of the Dinant food culture. They come in various molds and they come with a warning – don’t bite!

More Information: http://www.ottsworld.com/blogs/belgium-food-travel/

The Flamiche Maker
I watched in disbelief as the Flamiche Maker mixed together the ingredients. One pound of butter, 13 eggs, 1 pound of Boulette cheese, and a healthy dose of pepper – simple and packed with calories – I knew this recipe could be nothing but richly delicious. Similar to a quiche, flamiche is a tart that has been made for years in Dinant.

Legend has it that the flamiche was first created when a farmer’s wife on her way to Dinant, to sell the products of her farm on the market, fell and the products in her basket (butter, eggs, and cheese) became mixed together. She ran to a friend who was baking her bread. Making a base from some dough she added the mixture from her basket and put it in the oven. The flamiche was born. The flamiche is meant to be eaten right away – you won’t find them sitting around bakeries for long in Dinant.

The original power bar
Couque de Dinant is a specialty cookie made only in Dinant, Belgium. It is made from only three ingredients, honey, flour and sugar. No eggs, no water, no yeast. It is a hard cookie; you break off a piece of it and suck on it until it melts in your mouth. Through the high temperature oven, the honey melts giving the cookie a slight caramelized flavor. Mothers often give this cookie to the teething baby to suck on.

The couque de Dinant can source its origin back to a Roman cookie called placenta, made from rye flour, honey, oil and ewe’s milk. In the middle ages, a number of bakers in Dinant adopted the recipe and the cookie replaced bread in a shortage when Charles the Bold besieged the town in 1466.

Maison Collard has been baking what I consider to be the first power bar since 1774. They produce about 400 cookies per day and it is considered a specialty item from the region.