Larnicol: Kouign Amann in Paris


People come to Paris and want to try Kouign amann and I can’t say I blame them. And I truly feel for them when I tell them that although you can find Kouign amann in Paris, you really need to go to Brittany and have one. Well, I used to tell them that—but I don’t have to anymore because Brittany has finally come to Paris, courtesy of pastry chef George Larnicol.

Kouign amann is one of the most elusive pastries to make, not very tricky, but it involves a few steps..and a whole lotta butter. In fact, the name comes from the Breton language and translates to “butter cake”, and I don’t know of any cake (or dessert, for that matter) that has more butter than this. A few bakeries in Paris make them, and you can come across examples at some of the markets, but some foods don’t really translate outside of where they’re from (few outside of Norway really crave lutefisk, for example, and I can’t say I’m been on the prowl for haggis in Paris) and Kouign amann falls into that category.

Still, I was going to include a kouign amann recipe in The Sweet Life in Paris, but people had such diverse results—like macarons, it’s a recipe that’s more about techniques than just ingredients—that I left it on the site and decided to let people come to France and get their fill here, where it was invented.

kouign amann(blog)

The first thing you want to do if you stop by the Larnicol shop for a Kouign amann is to make sure you have the phone number of your dentist handy. And perhaps your cardiologist. The second is if you have an oven to re-warm your Kouign aman, all the better. The saleswoman told me I had to réchauffé the little fellas, which is definitely true if the weather is a bit nippy because the heat will soften the little twirls of caramelized pastry.

kouign amann Larnicol in Paris

There’s all sorts of candy around the shop which you can dig into, as well as the now-obligatory macarons of various colors…both natural and suspect…but I came for the Breton butter cakes. I was a little concerned because I only saw the larger Kouign amann piled up in the center of the store, but then came across the Kouignettes, which are the perfect few bites and in America, might be considered the “fun-size” version in the states. (Although no one has been able to explain to me how a smaller portion makes something “fun.”)

The flavors range from nature (plain) to salted butter caramel, almond, chocolate, pistachio, and others. Interestingly (or perhaps because they’re from Brittany, not Paris) it’s self-service and you’re welcome to fill one of the bags with whatever you want, kind of like a salad bar, only stocked with just butter, flour, nuts, and chocolate. There were a lot of them to choose from.

raisin kouign aman salted butter caramel kouign aman

Anyhow, I took one for the team. Actually I took three for the team (that would be you, by the way…) and packed them in a bag to bring home, after having a little trouble getting the sticky little devils into the bag due to their syrupy coating—so perhaps the staff got tired of fussing with them and just decided to throw some tongs down, slap on a self-service sign, and let us fend for themselves.

kouign amann1 pistachio kouign aman

Verdict? They’re pretty darned good, and as close as you’re going to get to an authentic Breton Kouign amann without trekking out to Brittany. However they really need to be heated up to bring out their buttery, ooey-gooey sugary goodness. So attention visitors: unless you come during the warmer months, beg your hotel to heat them up for you. Perhaps buy a few extra to share as motivation, which is the French word for “incentive”, a word I had to look up in my dictionary since I couldn’t recall hearing it for a while. But I suspect once word gets out, a few people will find a little motivation to get over to Larnicol to try a few kouignettes in the very near future.

14, rue de Rivoli (4th)
132, boulevard Saint-Germain (6th)
Tél: 01 43 26 39 38

Related Links and Posts

Alledgedly the Birthplace of Kouign Amann

Le Bateau en chocolat (Georges Larnicol launches a chocolate boat, video)

Kouign Amann Recipe

A Great Kouign Amann in Paris

Brittany’s Butter Bonanza

Meert, Franck Kestener and Epices Roellinger Come to Paris

Kouignettes at Maison Larnicol (Edible Society)

Les Madeleines Kouign Aman (Mail Order in the United States)

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  • January 30, 2011 10:17pm

    I discovered the kouignettes from Maître Larnicol a few years ago in Auray (56). My favorite is the salted butter caramel. What’s yours?

  • January 30, 2011 10:18pm

    voila !! =) i remember asking on a recent sweet post of yours if you had gone to larnicol yet for the kouignettes. eh oui ! i actually didn’t even get any when i was recently in paris, they looked practically frozen in the window there. excellent advice above to warm them a touch. my last memory of them was in warm bretagne years ago (link), so i probably didn’t want to mess that up. but next trip, i’ll take the risk.

    which flavors did you get ? looks like maybe pistachio and chocolate above ? your fave ? salted butter caramel perhaps… ?

  • Rachel Alabiso
    January 30, 2011 10:25pm

    I filled a sac with these at their shop in St. Malo and they sustained me all the way back to Paris with their caramel-y goodness. How lovely that they’ve opened there! Thanks for the heads up.

  • January 30, 2011 10:29pm
    David Lebovitz

    The good thing about the “fun-size” ones is that you can try a bunch of different flavors and see which ones you like best. I prefer the caramel-salted butter (of course!)

  • January 30, 2011 10:32pm

    They look just glorious, I wish I could have a little bevvy of them now…..perfect with a nice hot cup of tea for me, YUM strong tea and caramel…thanks for the post.

  • Susan
    January 30, 2011 10:37pm

    I have been so intrigued by this pastry since your posted the recipe and have been back for second looks (and third and fourth..) trying to figure out if I dare to try it. It’s the butter that has kept me from it, along with the fact that I’d never even tasted one, so didn’t know enough about it to know if I would have gotten it right or not, if I did make them. Well, while strolling through web sites looking for it, I came across a new bakery nearby that sells them, so I went over and got to try one. They had the “fun size” pastries! Either they had the right butter or I’m easy to please, because it was so delicious and quite sticky. I loved how when eating it, it sort of wants to unwind in a twist when you attempt to pull a piece off with your hands. .Strolling through the farmers market that day, I almost had the feeling of being a kid again at a faire, picking off pieces of cotton candy and putting it in my mouth (not the taste and texture, just the way it sort of twisted and unwound and was sticky) It looks like something out of my skill level, but it’s stuck in my head and I know it won’t go away until I do try to make it. If I could just find the butter…

  • chloe
    January 30, 2011 10:41pm

    I’ve been waiting for this day for so long!
    Thanks david to share this news :-)

  • January 30, 2011 10:46pm

    omigoodness, i can just taste the buttery-sticky-deliciousness looking at these photos. réchauffé, all the way!

  • January 30, 2011 10:56pm

    This is totally unfair…those look ridiculously delicious, and I’m a million miles from France!!! Why does McDonalds not sell things like this?!?!? We should petition HQ :D

  • Food Frenzy
    January 30, 2011 11:03pm

    Those are some fabulous looking butter cakes. This is great find and well written blog.

  • January 30, 2011 11:11pm

    This is my kind of salad bar! Thanks very much for taking one for the team yet again. We owe you big time.

  • January 30, 2011 11:17pm

    For the love of butter!! You are so very generous to make yourself choke a few down in order to make those of us who are stateside TOTALLY JEALOUS. I’ll be sharing this link with my good friend in Paris (if she hasn’t read it already)!

  • January 30, 2011 11:40pm

    These look fantastic! I don’t believe I have ever heard of these let alone tried one, but I may have to attempt baking them myself with the recipe link you provided! Of course, I guess I won’t know if it came out right or not, but luckily I have some relatives from France who may be able to direct me!

  • January 30, 2011 11:42pm

    Very curious how and why such treats were invented? There’s usually a reason behind different foods. You mention lutefish – thats for preservation during winter.
    Was it an oversupply of sugar and butter that needed to be used up? Or people not consuming enough calories? Or dentists and cardiologists not getting enough business and hence sponsoring such innovations:)

  • Pat
    January 31, 2011 12:14am

    What a treat to discover these in Brittany. They are deeelish! I tried making them once..haha! They will remain elusive in my kitchen. Some things are better that way. So nice to see these pics of them in Paris.

  • Simon
    January 31, 2011 12:39am

    What amazes me is how popular this dish is – Susan blogged about making Kouign Amann almost three years ago, (here) and we still get a couple of visitors a day who are looking for the recipe.

    Luckily, we are in Paris in a couple of days, and I have a notebook. This means I can do a comparison test. Lucky me :¬) (oops – I meant “the sacrifices I make”…)

  • January 31, 2011 2:46am

    I love the idea of making small ones! And, just for the record, I made your recipe at home and it came out beautifully the very first time. THAT is a testament to your wonderful directions!

  • January 31, 2011 2:54am

    Mmm… Kouign amann salad bar.. We used to make quince flavoured versions at a place I worked in, but they didn’t look half as good as those.

  • January 31, 2011 3:07am

    I think my cholesterol level shot up a little just reading your description about it’s buttery goodness :) I’d still love to try it one day. What is the texture like? Is it more like bread or cake? Love the pics!

  • January 31, 2011 3:47am

    I’m interested in the texture, too. Is is a little crispy because of all the butter? Some of them start to look like roses, with their spiraling petal look. Very nice. Please give us a recipe some day because I don’t think I’m going to make it to France anytime soon. :)


  • Gael
    January 31, 2011 3:53am

    Going to Bretagne isn’t enough for Kouign Amann anymore. I bought a very mediocre Kouign in St. Malo the last time I was there. You practically have to go to Locronan to get a consistent one.

  • January 31, 2011 4:19am

    … hmm! Poulsbo, WA is just across the Agate Passage bridge from Bainbridge Island – they have lutefisk and even I ♥ lutefisk shirts! – trade a couple for some Kouign Amann and kouignettes.

  • January 31, 2011 4:48am

    Thank you thank you thank you for this post.
    Cant wait. Will be in Paris late in Februrary, staying near Larnicol in the sixth.

  • Montse
    January 31, 2011 4:48am

    Those look amazing and very fattening! Probably what makes them so darn good!

  • January 31, 2011 4:59am

    A pastry that is new to me. Perhaps I am in denial about copious amounts of butter. Something worth seeking out. Buying a plane ticket for – even withstanding the horrors of air travel these days to try.

    And lutefisk remains alive and well outside of Norway – in Minnesota. Why? There is no answer.

  • January 31, 2011 4:59am

    Oh Jesus, does that ever look good!! My wife and I are going to France in the fall to visit friends and I will definitely search these out. Thanks for this.

  • January 31, 2011 5:24am

    A pistachio kouign amann?? Oh, the misery of living in Australia…

  • January 31, 2011 5:56am

    These look incredible! I have made your recipe several times with great success- one of my favorites! Thank you! :)

  • Bonnie Powers
    January 31, 2011 5:56am

    David, what kind of a small pans would one use to obtain the size they’re showing at Larnicol? I like the presentation of the small size better than an 8 or 9-incher. Also thinking I would use your recipe from ’05 and play around with the pistachio thing.

  • January 31, 2011 6:51am

    I was JUST mentioning to my sister that the KA was on my Need-To-Bake docket, and your article is spurring me into action. I know it won’t be as good as M. Larnicol’s, but with your recipe, I’m sure I’ll enjoy every decadent, buttery bite!

  • January 31, 2011 8:15am

    So I wonder if you have ever had St. Louis gooey butter cake? This looks like the beautiful french dressed up version, can’t wait to try one! Meanwhile I’ll bake a gooey butter cake…yum!

  • January 31, 2011 9:10am
    David Lebovitz

    Bonnie: You could probably use a muffin tin, although I would try one with a non-stick lining as they can be pretty sticky. Good luck!

    Rylia: No, I haven’t. But I’ve seen pictures of them and think I should try one out one day for sure.

  • Cat
    January 31, 2011 9:11am

    Thank you for this address! Perfect for my father, who is addicted to kouign aman!

  • Abigail
    January 31, 2011 9:48am

    If you want the real Kouign Amann don’t bother with Locronan or St Malo or even Larnicol. Locronan is for tourists.

    The real McCoy comes from the bakeries of Douarnenez, they are all pretty good but especially Thierry Lucas (rue des Plomarch) or Patisserie le Moing (rue Jean Jaures). Chef Cyril Lignac went to Douarnenez and baked a giant one with the Douarnenez patissiers in September for one of his programmes.

    Douarnenez is a fantastic place is you ever get a chance to go, have a fishy lunch on they quayside overlooking the bay of Douarnenez before you buy your Kouign Amann for tea.

    I think one of the reasons they were originally made was to use up the vast quantities of surplus butter Brittany produced but also a way to sweeten those long dark,cold Breton winters.

  • January 31, 2011 10:06am

    Kouign Amann is clearly something I’ll have to return to–in Brittany (and now Paris). I had some at the while in Ampuis for the wine fair…just did not ring my bells. But it wasn’t Brittany, and it wasn’t warmed up.

    Sounds like another excellent pretext to head north…

  • Emmanuel
    January 31, 2011 10:57am

    Are you sure it’s on 14, rue de Rivoli ??
    Because I leave in front and there is nothing… Which shop is it ?
    I love those Kouign Amann !!! they are perfect !

  • January 31, 2011 12:58pm
    David Lebovitz

    Emmanuel: Unfortunately their website doesn’t list their addresses in Paris, but that is their address according to my receipt.

    If it isn’t correct, please let me know. It is right across from the Saint Paul métro station exit, facing the merry-go-round.

  • suedoise
    January 31, 2011 1:23pm

    I note with enormous pleasure that monsieur Larnicol is a “meilleur ouvrier de France” a distinction as hard to get as it the title honours the very highest professional skills.
    As for a Norwegian “lutefisk” you can get it in Paris if you really wish. It is a preparation from a fish that the Norwegians export all over the globe.
    I think that fish is at its best in the infinite varieties of the Portuguese “bacalhau”.
    Summertime you will find the fish hung to dry in every Norwegian coastal town making the beautiful coastline a rather smelly place. Il faut vivre avec.

  • January 31, 2011 2:41pm

    Ahh, the sacrifices you make for your loyal readers! I’ve resisted trying the recipe until I could taste the real thing… Putting this address on the list for spring!

  • January 31, 2011 3:25pm

    I’d say you’d find very few people *inside* Norway craving lutefisk as well…

  • January 31, 2011 3:36pm

    Oh my gosh, we stayed on Rue de Rivoli in April and I can’t believe we missed these. Maybe it wasn’t open yet (at least that’s how I will sleep at night). Guess I just have to go back, OR I will go to Brittany! Always wanted to, now I have an(other) excuse!! Oh, if I only lived in France… or had unlimited SkyMiles :)

  • January 31, 2011 6:13pm

    Thanks for telling us about these little buttery gems. Next time in Paris I’ll come armed with my defibrillator and give one a try.

  • January 31, 2011 6:22pm

    You mean, you didn’t eat haggis last week on Burns’ Night? Tsk, tsk! Which piece of teasing is because next time I come to Paris (in March) it will be for an ice-skating competition and I am quite heavy enough as it is without indulging in these delicious-sounding cakes!! Pity my poor husband who has to lift me….

    And actually, haggis is delicious.

  • Sini
    January 31, 2011 7:21pm

    Do I have to feel ashamed that I have never heard about this little treats? Oh well, now I know one way more how to make my life even more delicious. Something with so much butter simply has to be heavenly good. Thank you for sharing!

  • January 31, 2011 8:15pm

    @David & @Emmanuel: I can confirm that the address is correct, as I stopped by there today.

    As impressive as the chocolate sculptures were, I couldn’t help but walk out of there with a couple kouignettes. Can’t wait to heat them up and try them for dessert tonight.

  • January 31, 2011 9:25pm

    I love the idea of the different flavors and mini-kouign amanns. (Why is that you can eat so many more of something when it’s tiny? Maybe that’s why they’re “fun” size.)

    If you haven’t tried the kouign amann at Tholoniat in the 10th, I highly recommend you do. :)

  • Isabelle
    January 31, 2011 9:32pm

    The very first time I ever tasted a Kouign Amann was in – of all places – Morocco. I thought I had died, gone to heaven and then come back to have some more. A friend of mine, a Breton “pur beurre”, told me : “That’s nothing, wait till you try the real thing”. So, we were vacationing with friends and family in beautiful California when she surprised us with this huge Kouign Amann bought in Rennes (Brittany) she had hidden in her suitcase. There are absolutely no words to describe the experience of eating that beautiful treat. Since, I have been saving my taste buds for the real deal: I can’t wait to get my hands on another Kouign A.!

  • Missy in Seattle
    January 31, 2011 9:47pm

    Angelina and Laurnicol on the same block. Very swoon-worthy.

    I need to find an excuse to get to Paris again SOON!

  • February 1, 2011 12:07am

    I am wiping up the remnants of my Pavlovian response to this post and wondering when the next flight is.

  • February 1, 2011 1:08am

    Oh, dreamy. I really miss Paris, and my family so much, I don’t mind Tokyo, or the cities there, being able walk a few stops for a French Pastry is wonderful.. no like Paris, but just as nice.. These look fabulous.

  • February 1, 2011 1:20am

    YUM! I can’t believe I missed these when I visited Paris and France I was convinced I sought out all available delights :(

  • jtkeifer
    February 1, 2011 3:42am

    My Wife found a source in USA for this Brittany delight

  • February 1, 2011 4:05am

    When I visited my friend in his home town or Lorient, right in the midst of buttery Breton, it was mandatory for me to try this beloved Kouign Amann. I was instantly in love. But what I loved even more is when his amazing mother asked in her broken English what kind of butter my region preferred: salted or unsalted. My heart just melted with the idea of being so connected to the surrounding land to be aware of the butter that comes from your community. This was after she asked if we liked the savory or sweetie crepes. Gah, I love Brittany. Thanks for reminding me David.

  • Lisa
    February 1, 2011 6:56am

    Those look like droplets of heaven. If I found these, I would never stop eating them. I would need to buy new clothing for all my butter flesh. Every time I would step out to walk off my butter, I would walk straight to the shop to get more of these little treats. This must be the reason I have never made it to France. I would have buttered myself to death.

  • February 1, 2011 8:45am

    Great article! I have been making these for a few markets (Pop Up General Store & the Underground Market) in San Francisco now for several months and am just opening Starter Bakery with the venerable KA as one of the shining stars. We make traditional as well as filled ones with fillings like Valrhona Manjari; Vanilla Roasted Pink Lady Apple; Caramel Poached Pear. Once we get into spring and summer months we’ll be doing new varieties weekly. These are tender and irresistible. Visit my website for a KA formula as well as process photos.

  • John
    February 1, 2011 2:34pm

    Hello David

    I made your recipe for kouign amann a while back, and it turned out great. With regard to filling these, is there a particular technique you would recommend? It looks like for little ones you could make the dough, and after the last turn you could place the filling on top, roll it like a cinnamon roll, and cut the ensuing log to make small ones, but I was wondering if there was a more traditional technique.

  • February 1, 2011 4:44pm

    Never been there although I’m originally from Paris (apparently, I wasn’t hanging out with the right people!), but I’ll be sending my sisters there soon. These look yummy; thanks!

  • Sabrina
    February 2, 2011 10:17pm

    *salivates* These look divine. I’ve been wanting to go to Paris with my family and this will be a must for whenever we go. I will also be tackling your kouign amann recipe later on. Thank you David!

  • Glynis
    February 2, 2011 11:04pm

    I went to the Larnicol shop in the Marais today with a friend and got a plain one, and then went back again later in the day when I found myself by Odéon and bought the chocolate-coconut, apple, and plain variety to have tonight with my (host) mother. So good! And they really are better warmed up–I tried both ways. I had wanted to try the real thing after I made your kouign amann recipe this summer!

  • Monex
    February 3, 2011 12:47am

    Ill make sure to drop by Pierre Hermé the next time I visit Paris. One time on my last day in Paris I went and got TWO PH Kouign Amanns and ate them then and there. I dare not ever even think about getting another. Just the best thing on the planet IMO!

  • Lori
    February 3, 2011 10:22pm

    You can find them state-side. Just down the streeet from my office! The real thing, from somebody who learned how to make them while living in Brittany. They ship, too.

  • Claire
    February 5, 2011 8:15pm

    I am not about to argue that kouign amann is a health food, but it’s got much less butter per serving than, say, pound cake, I think. I’ve made a recipe that had about 110g of butter and happily served 8, while I’ll make Victoria Sponge recipes (a traditional UK pound-cake style layer cake) that requires about 250g butter for 8 servings, and that’s without the cream or buttercream often put in the middle…!

  • February 6, 2011 9:11am

    I’ve tried the Larnicol Kouignettes when I was in Nantes last year – they’ve also got a shop there. I agree that it’s awesome that you can try several flavours (I was living alone at that time.. So imagine a lonely girl buying three normal-sized kouign amanns to herself.. Although I believe that had the word been out, I wouldn’t have been so lonely!), although I tend to lean towards the nature.
    Truth be told, they definitely weren’t the best I’ve ever tasted – compared to some others, a bit too dry.

  • Rose
    February 8, 2011 11:50pm

    David, you are cruel. Please post the recipe for us immediately. We deserve to to try our hands at it, even if our results are “diverse.”

  • Gina
    February 20, 2011 9:03pm

    Oh. My. God. I fell upon these this afternoon and helped myself to a caramel beurre salé and a pistache. I’ve never been to Bretagne, so I have nothing to compare these to, but the two I had were nothing short of divine. I brought them home and heated them up per your suggestion, and all I can say is wow: melt in your mouth buttery, sugary deliciousness. Now the only thing left to do is wait for the chest pains to start. (I’m chasing them with some red wine, but I’m not sure I can drink enough to offset all that butter!) Amazingly delicious…good thing I live in the 18th or I’d be there entirely too often. Thanks for sharing David! As usual, only good things from you!

  • Jackie
    February 23, 2011 7:44pm

    As I was walking around Menton this afternoon, I passed by a boutique, and some little pastries caught my eye. As I looked closer, they were the kouiginettes I had read about but figured I had to forget since I’m down south in France. What luck! And coincidentally enough, when I came back to my apartment, and read the new post, there was a link to the very Maison Larnicol from which I had bought my lovely pastries! Good for anyone living on the Riviera to know!

  • michele
    February 25, 2011 9:05am

    supposedly there is a bakery in Salt Lake City that makes these little francophile-killers. I keep trying to talk my parents into hunting them down next time they visit my sister in SLC, but they have never been to Brittany so have never tried them. Now I will send them to this patisserie in Paris (oddly, more convenient than the SLC bakery…) to teach them what they have been missing…and perhaps hurry my inheritance along?!