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What Is Coussin De Lyon?

By Kathy Dowling
Updated May 16, 2024
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Coussin de Lyon is a French confection made from chocolate and marzipan. Originating in Lyon, a city located east of central France, the confection has a filling that consists of a liqueur-flavored chocolate ganache covered in green marzipan. Translated from French, coussin de Lyon means "cushion from Lyon," which not only describes the cushion-like appearance of the French confection, but also the history of its origin.

Inside a coussin de Lyon is a chocolate ganache, which is made when melted butter and cream is combined with chocolate. This produces an icing that is shiny in appearance. Ganache can be used to spread over cakes, and can also be used as a filling for pastry desserts.

The unique filling inside the coussin de Lyon is made by combining chocolate ganache with curaçao, a liqueur that gets its name from the island from which it originates in the Caribbean Sea. The liqueur has a flavor that is similar to that of an orange, but is made from the peel of the laraha citrus fruit. When the peel is dried out, the sweet fragrance of the laraha fruit is released and a citrus flavor that is slightly bitter in taste is created.

Surrounding the curaçao-flavored chocolate ganache filling in the coussin de Lyon is green marzipan. Marzipan is also known as almond paste and is made from sugar and ground almonds or almond meal. It is used for icing on cakes and is also used for constructing sweets. Usually appearing yellow in color, marzipan can be colored using food colorings.

Originating in the city of Lyon in France, the coussin de Lyon confection has a history that extends to an epidemic outbreak in 1643. Located near Lyon is a hill called Fourvière hill, also known as the "hill that prays." Members of the Lyon council, known as alderman, proceeded to the hill amidst the outbreak, where a statue of the Virgin Mary stood, offering a gold token on a silk cushion and a wax candle weighing seven pounds in hope that the city would be cured of its epidemic. Since this time, the procession to Fourvière hill still continues, and was the inspiration behind the creation of the coussin de Lyon in 1960.

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