16 December 2022

Cannelés - A Small French Pastry That Originated in Bordeaux

Canneles - A Small French Pastry That Originated in Bordeaux / www.delightfulrepast.com

(sometimes spelled canelés, and pronounced CANuhLEE, actually not quite LEE and not quite LAY) have been on my must-make list for literally (and I don't use that word lightly) decades. 

But every time they occur to me happens to coincide with a time when I am trying mightily to not add another specialty item to my batterie de cuisine collection! Some of you know what I'm talking about, right?

As recently as perhaps 15 years ago, I would have only been satisfied with the very pricey individual tin-lined copper molds and would have gone to great lengths to procure food-grade beeswax to coat the interiors, etc, etc. Well, I am soooo over all that!

When my latest reminder of cannelés came from David at Cocoa and Lavender, well, I could hold out no longer and ordered the same pan he recently acquired. He started his blog at the same time I did, with recipes ranging from simple to complex, like mine; and a love of food that, like mine, goes back to his childhood and his mother's amazing cooking. He also has an allergy, like mine, to garlic! So naturally I assumed that I could trust his choice of cannelés molds.

Canneles - A Small French Pastry That Originated in Bordeaux / www.delightfulrepast.com

So I ordered a pan and started digging through my files, remembering that I had come up with a recipe many years ago that was a mishmash of ones I had looked at and added my own touches to. The main differences between recipes is in the baking time and temperature. 

Most call for at least the first 10 to 20 minutes at a very high (some as high as 500F/260C/Gas10) temperature. One recipe said to bake at 400F/205C/Gas6) for 2 hours! Really?! 

Every recipe I've seen calls for way more sugar than I like. First batch I made, I cut the sugar to 3/4 cup but found them still a bit too sweet (you won't!), so next time I went to 1/2 cup. It was plenty sweet enough for me, but it made the texture all wrong, no longer cannelés, so I'm going to stick with my original 3/4 cup.

One type of cannelés molds I never considered is the silicone. I have never tried a silicone baking "pan" of any kind. They just do not appeal to me in any way. If you like them, fine. But I just, no, just, no. A baking tin, or pan, should not be squishy!

A delightful after-dinner dessert or coffee go-with, cannelés are perfect for the afternoon tea table, along with Fruit Tartlets and petite Cream Puffs.  

So tell me, have you ever made cannelés? What kind of molds—silicone, tin-lined copper, other metal? What degree of caramelization do you prefer—golden, light brown, dark brown, black?

Canneles - A Small French Pastry That Originated in Bordeaux / www.delightfulrepast.com

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(Makes 12, if you're using the same size molds)

2 cups (16 fluid ounces/473 ml) milk
3 tablespoons (1.5 ounces/43 grams) unsalted butter
3/4 dip-and-sweep cup (5.25 ounces/106 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (5.25 ounces/149 grams) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs (medium, in UK and some other places)
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces/59 ml) dark rum
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 In 1-quart saucepan, heat the milk and butter until the butter is melted and the milk is up to a simmer; do not boil.

2 In medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt vigorously for 1 minute to "sift."

3 Add the eggs, yolks, rum, and vanilla extract to the flour mixture and whisk vigorously until smooth. When smooth, whisk in the hot milk a third at a time. This ensures a lump-free batter that doesn't need straining.

4 Cover and refrigerate for 24 to 72 hours.

5 When ready to bake, put a sheet of aluminum foil on the shelf beneath the shelf you'll be placing the pan on (the foil will catch any butter drips) and preheat oven to 425F/220C/Gas7. In small bowl (microwave) or pan (stovetop), melt 2 teaspoons of solid shortening* and brush the molds with it.

* I keep a stick of Crisco in my refrigerator strictly for greasing certain pans. Many pans do a great job of releasing cakes that have been buttered, buttered and floured, oiled, or sprayed. But for pans that are molds (such as these and Bundt cakes), shortening always gives me a good result and does not gum up the pan as some oils do.

6 Whisk the batter a bit. If a skin has formed, just whisk it in. Fill each mold to within about 3/8 inch (1 cm) of the top.

Note: For this pan, I use a 1/3-cup measuring cup as a ladle to fill the molds with the 1/4 cup of batter they need. Using a 1/4-cup measuring cup as a ladle actually fills them with less than 1/4 cup due to the concave meniscus of the liquid (or something like that!). 

7 Place the cannelés pan in the preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 375F/190C/Gas5 and bake for about 50 to 60 minutes, or until they are as deeply caramelized as you like them. Some people go for nearly black. Rotate pan halfway through for more even baking.

8 Turn the cannelés out onto a wire rack to cool. If any of the cannelés are not adequately or evenly caramelized, set them right side up on a small baking sheet and return them to the oven for 5 minutes or so. Allow them to cool for 2 hours before serving. This allows time for the exterior to crisp and the interior to set to the proper consistency. The crispy exterior will last for perhaps 6 hours. After that it will soften, and the cannelés will still be delicious but the characteristic crunch will be gone. They can be reheated and left to cool again to refresh them.

* Pan details: ChefMade WK9158 carbon steel 12-cup nonstick cannele mould, oven safe up to 450F/230C/Gas8, handwash only, made in China.

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