Saturday, 25 June 2011

I love Cannelés de Bordeaux

Move over macarons, I predict Cannelés de Bordeaux will be the new sexy love of our palates. I ate my first Canelé many years ago in Bordeaux and now every time I return to France I seek out these gorgeous little sweet treats. They are very specialised creations and more difficult to master than macarons, so are rarely seen in New Zealand. But finally some versions are starting to appear on our shores.  

Canneles for sale, Paris
If you like French macarons then you're bound to love cannelés, also. These small French delicacies don't look all that exciting but one bite and you'll be smitten. Cannelés have a soft and tender buttery, custardy centre and a dark, thick caramelised sugar crust. Always made in distinctive striated cylinder copper moulds, cannelés are a specialty of the Bordeaux region of France but can often be found elsewhere, such as in Parisian patisseries, as well.
I’ve owned silicon cannelé moulds for a long time and have had okay results but I’ve always read that the traditional copper moulds are the way to go. So, last year when I was in Paris I bought some copper moulds – they really are very pretty, so if I figure that even if I never use them I’ll just love owning them as beautiful kitchen things.
This week I devoted time to experimenting with cannelés production. First up you have to realise the prepared batter needs to rest for at least 24 hours – 48 hours is even better – so you must plan ahead to produce canelés. Next, I had to ‘season’ my new copper cannelé moulds – they need to be brushed with oil and baked for 20 minutes so that they build up a non-stick surface – rather like seasoning a new crêpe pan, for example.  
attractive copper canneles moulds

So, now my lovely copper moulds are ready and so is my cannelé batter. I decide to do a comparison with the silicon moulds – and this is also because I’ve only got 6 copper moulds (they are rather expensive items!)
Made from eggs, sugar, milk, butter and flour and flavoured with rum and vanilla, the crêpe-like batter is baked for up to 2 hours at a high temperature (200°C) to give the cannelés a caramelised crust that encases a gooey custard/batter inside. Heaven in a mouthful!
At first the cannelés puff up during cooking, later deflating as they set into shape. Here’s a photo of the cannelés part way through their cooking time – they take an incredible 2 hours in the oven to build up that wonderful burnt caramel crust which gives them a fantastic flavour.
puffed up batter after 1 hour in the oven

I am filled with anticipation as I keep an eye on my baking. I’ve waited 48 hours for my batter to rest and then 2 hours for the cannelés to cook. Waiting, waiting, waiting... the sweet-caramel-vanilla perfume filling my kitchen is compelling. I can hardly wait any longer to taste these little beauties. The little silicon morsels pop out of the moulds easily but are a tiny bit dry in the middle. But alas, the bigger versions stick to the copper pans, so while they don’t look as smooth as they should they still taste pretty good.
cute little mini canneles

I’m sure the copper pans will build up a better non-stick surface with further use. And next time I’m going to get hold of some beeswax (available from health food stores) because traditionally the pans should be brushed with beeswax. I skipped this step (thinking it couldn’t be all that important) but perhaps it’s the all important way to get the best possible crust on cannelés. I’m off to buy beeswax now, so I’ll report back after my next attempt. But just before I pop to the store, I can’t resist another bite...
One bite and you'll be smitten - the contrast of textures is divine!