Thursday, July 19, 2007

Canelés

I recently discovered canelés at the boulangerie a few blocks from where I now live. I was in there for the first time purchasing some pastries to take over to my parents and without reading the description, decided to try a canelé.

Interestingly, at this particular boulangerie they spell it canelet. When I look online, it seems to be strictly spelled canelé. Not sure what that is about but I can (and will....oh yes, lucky you!) tell you that these are soooo good. They are not heavy or overly sweet. They have such incredible flavor but it really is the texture that makes this French treat so amazing.

The boulangerie from which I purchased the canelé describes it as: " a traditional treat from the Bordeaux region of France.... Invented in the 16th century by the nuns of the Annonciades convent, this sweet custard cake is baked in a copper tin heavily coated with melted beeswax. The beeswax hardens and gives the canelet the perfect crunchy crust. Canelet is made with whole milk, eggs, sugar and flour...and a touch of vanilla bean and rum." As much as I resist referring to Wikipedia as a source (and please tell me that someone out there has seen the episode of The Office in which Michael references Wikipedia as the utmost authority?!?!), I do like the way they describe the canelé as having a "caramelized crust and marrowy inside."

This image gives you a much better idea as to what is going on underneath that glossy, carmelized exterior. I think what makes this treat so particularly delicious for me is the surprise effect it has on me (I've only had these twice now, so maybe that will wear off at some point?). I love that you bite into a thick, carmelized shell (it's not really a crunchy exterior... at least not those at my local boulangerie) and there is this soft and marrowy (think moist and spongy) inside with the perfect touch of rum and vanilla. You can even seen the specks of vanilla bean in the photo.

Very delicious. I don't know how difficult they are to come by here in the States. I know that the boulangerie close to me is only doing them seasonally. I'm still rather miffed that they don't make macarons. Apparently they do them for rare special order and when they do, I was informed that the baker usually only does something like strawberry. So sad. But I did find a decent alternative. At an upscale grocery store a few miles away, they sell frozen mini macarons that are imported from France. They are not bad at all. Of course, not as wonderful as those I had in Paris (and I didn't even try the highly esteemed ones at places like Laudurée or Pierre Hermé) but really, rather acceptable in my desperate situation. And they come in an assortment with chocolate, raspberry, vanilla, and café (probably my favorite of the four).

Anyway, try a canelé if you can. And if you have tasted one before, I'm curious to hear what you think.

8 comments:

La Page Française said...

Wow, those look so delicious. That's interesting that they use beeswax on the outside to make the caramelized shell. Believe it or not, this seems to be one French pastry that I haven't tried yet. I'm going to have to find one to try.

And fyi, next time you come to Paris, you absolutely MUST go to Ladurée for the macarons. They really do surpass the macarons that you find at the average bakery. And plus, they have such unusual flavors. Lemon, violet, caramel, rose, etc...

carra said...

Unfortunately, I haven't tried these either. I tried everything my local bakery in france made, but never came across these... Such a pity as they look absolutely scrumptious!

b said...

la page française...yes, the beeswax gives the exterior such a great waxy, carmelized texture and taste. isn't that funny, how i am all the way across the world from france and can find canelés and you are in the heart of paris and have not tried one? however, with all the amazing french pastries and treats that must exist, i actually can see how this might be. laudurée is definitely on my must-see (or should i say, must-taste?) list when i return to paris. thanks for the reminder!

carra...again, i can't help but find it funny that you too never came across a canelé while living in france. they are very good. if you didn't find them in france, maybe you'll happen upon them in spain? :) i found them out here, so who knows?!

Richard said...

Nope. Haven't seen any canales in Montreal (and I checked this past weekend at an upscale bakery - Gourmet Privilege. Maybe caneles are too pedestrian for them).

Only time I recall eating beeswax is when I have eaten honeycomb

b said...

richard...they must be hard to come by, even in france! too pedestrian, eh? how chichi is this gourmet privilege? :)

the beeswax gives it such a great waxy texture. yum. i need to go get another one of these tomorrow!

Richard said...

They make very nice cakes, breass, pastries and chocolates.

Rebecca said...

By coincidence, I just saw and tried my first canelé this past weekend. A local (prior Dean and Duluca?) baker had made some and was selling a small tray of them at a farm stand on Saturday morning (local meaning Norwich, VT).

I bought one, tried it, then drove back to buy a second for my husband to try. I would have bought more, but I didn't want to be greedy as there was only one tray.

They are just as described in this blog - wonderful, amazing. The contrast between the outer and inner textures and flavors are incredible, and the size is perfect: just enough for a handful.

b said...

richard...but apparently no canelés!! :(

rebecca...thanks for stopping by my blog. wow, you really found canelés at a farm stand? that sounds so lovely - canelés found at a local farm stand in vermont!! and isn't it funny that some of my blog friends living in france have not heard of them?! yet, you on the east coast and i on the west coast, came across them?

i'm happy to hear your response, as mine was very much the same when i first tasted these. i'm also glad that i was relatively able to communicate the experience. so wonderful! hopefully you will be able to find that farm stand again for more! each time i respond to a comment here about these canelés, i find myself wanting to rush over to the boulangerie again for more! :)