Nonnettes are tender, little cakes which are a specialty of Dijon. They are a perfect wintertime treat.

Though spring is right around the corner, there is still a chill in the air that justifies baking at least once a week. A few weeks ago, two batches of soft, chewy chocolate chip cookies triumphantly emerged from my oven. We enjoyed them as dessert every night or Kirstie, my teen daughter, had one as a snack after school. The week before that I made a pineapple upside down cake, a recipe from a Good Housekeeping cookbook I had found at a thrift shop. It was absolutely delightful and disappeared a little too quickly.
When the urge to get into the kitchen and make something sweet hit me today, it didn’t take long to decide on nonnettes, a specialty of Dijon. The name means ‘little nuns’ and the cakes find their origins in the Middle Ages.

Nonnettes are fragrant, moist and lovely with a strong espresso or a glass of Grand Marnier, which also happens to be on the list of ingredients. It adds a wonderful depth of flavor to the nonnettes, but you can also omit it or replace it with an equal amount of brown rum or orange juice. Unglazed, they are also a great addition to a cheese board.
For a more authentic look, skip the paper liners when making the nonnettes. One thing you must keep in mind, however, is that your molds need to be well buttered and floured. I faced quite a disaster one time when I buttered a little too lightly!
In an airtight container, the nonnettes will stay well for about a week, though I doubt they will really last that long.

NOTE: I served my nonnettes on the beautiful porcelain presentation plate from Revol’s Equinoxe collection. Its elegant design and timeless look, make it both versatile and aesthetically appealing. The Equinoxe collection, named after the astronomical phenomenon, features bowls, plates and tumblers, but also dim sum plates and baskets, perfect for the Asian kitchen. The collection is available in four colors: cast iron black, cirrus blue, pepper and cumulus white (shown here). 


Orange Nonnettes with Grand Marnier
Makes 12


  • 150ml water
  • 80g butter
  • 200ml honey
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp pain d’épices spices
  • 2 tbsps Grand Marnier
  • 180g whole wheat flour
  • 100g all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • Zest of 1 organic orange
  • 6 tsps marmalade
  • 3 tbsps freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 80g powdered sugar


Heat water, butter, honey and sugar, just until butter is melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the spices and Grand Marnier. In a large bowl whisk the flours and baking powder. Add the orange zest and stir to combine. Pour in the syrup (it should still be fairly hot). Stir until combined. Flour and butter a 12-hole muffin tin. Divide the batter over the holes. Chill for half an hour. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Using a teaspoon, make a little well in the center of the batter and fill with half a tsp of marmalade. Bake the nonnettes for 20 minutes. The nonnettes should be tender and spring back when pressed. Allow to cool completely before unmolding. Place the nonnettes on a rack, making sure there is a sheet of tin foil underneath it. Make a thin glaze by whisking the orange juice into the powdered sugar. Drizzle over the nonnettes and leave to set.