I first read about canelés from the Trader Joe's newsletter. I was incredulous of a pastry that could be crusty on the outside and custard-y on the inside. I'm not a big fan of buying frozen pastries, so I put it out of my mind. Then, last week, I found this entry on Chocolate & Zucchini, one of my favorite food blogs. Maybe it's the fact that she used to be a software engineer, or that she now lives in Paris, my favorite city and the magic land where pastry shops put forth jewel-like creations unseen anywhere in the states*. I was so intrigued by the recipe that I decided to make a batch in my *gasp* mini-muffin pans.
The recipe seemed like a crepe batter, with a lot of milk and a little flour. What made the recipe really "special" was the heaping third cup of rum. It made me woozy just smelling the batter (that's a sign of good eats, right?)
The canelés are baked at an impossibly hot 475 F oven for 20 minutes, until they are deeply caramelized on the sides, and then baked at 400 F for 20 more minutes. They came out of the oven looking gorgeous, bright yellow in the center and deep brown on the edges.
I buttered and floured the pan diligently, but it was still a fight getting the little cakes out of the pan. The caramelized edges were burnt solidly to the pan and had to be cut loose with a sharp knife.
I don't know how authentic my canelés are, but they were delicious - crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, with a nice rum flavor. They were even better the second day as the flavors mellowed out. I'll have to seek out authentic canelés to compare the difference. The one from Pierre Hermé's website looks intimidating, it's completely black on the outside! Unfortunately Monsieur Hermé doesn't have a store in the US, he doesn't even ship to the US! Fortunately I hear that Honoré Artisan Bakery sells canelés sometimes. Maybe one of these days I'll get lucky. I'm sufficiently impressed by their mind-bending caramelized-crunchy-soft-tender Kouign-Amanns (another thing on my to-bake list) that I have faith in their canelés.
* At least, I've yet to find a pastry shop in the US that can be compared to anything in Paris. If anyone knows of one, let me know. It just seems that bakeries here mainly focus on homely cookies and muffins and cakes instead of more intricate layered/molded/sculpted desserts with contrasting flavors and textures. What a shame.