Surprisingly, Brittany, France, with her robust dairy tradition, had no cheese culture until recently. In times gone by, les vieux Britons (the old folks) even referred to cheese as laezh brein ("rotten milk"). Guérande salted butter and cream—and their famous buttery confections—all developed as a means to use this rich bounty.
In Brittany after the privations of war, in the summer of ‘46 at the seaside resort Quiberon, it was exciting after a hard day's play at the beach to stroll down to the stand "Les Niches" and partake of one of their unique long, warm caramel suckers called "Niniches." Sugar was available again, and these were made with the local cream, salt, and butter from a family recipe.
This summer business, founded by Yvonne and Raymond Audebert using the recipes of their Breton grandmothers, evolved into a year-round family company: Maison d'Armorine. The enterprise made sense: Quiberon was located in Brittany, the butter and salt capital of France. With the Audebert culinary tradition and these fantastic materials at hand, their caramel business thrived.
In keeping with the innovative direction of “Niniches”, La Maison d’ Armorine was an early producer of salted caramels. Then arrived the fantastic chocolat noir-enrobed caramel aptly names Coeur de Celtes, and now: rich, chewy Florentins.
Today you will find La Maison d’Armorine’s range in such luminary establishments as Bon Marché in Paris, in Australia, and even China. However, though the business has increased globally, their production and values have not changed. La Maison d’Armorine still has an Audebert (Alain) at the helm. And they still use cane sugar and local ingredients in small batch (50kg) production, with made-to-order freshness, cooked up in copper pots. Not a bad evolution for something that started out as a bit of summer fun.