I haven’t quite figured these little guys out. I just read about them for the first time a few weeks ago. They’re a french pastry that is a little finicky, and a lot old-timey. Pronounced “Ku-Nell-Ay,” they sound similar to Cannoli, but aren’t. You make a very loose eggy milky batter with a bunch of rum, and let it age in the fridge for at least 24 hours. Then you are supposed to pour it into individual tin-lined copper molds that have been treated with a mixture of beeswax and high-heat oil. Following that, you bake them in a very hot oven for over an hour. During this time in the oven at a high temperature, something magnificent happens. The outside of the pastry develops a deep mahogany crust with a gorgeous shine (helped in part by the beeswax), and the inside bakes into a soft custard consistency. Upon reading about these little pieces of magnificence, and following several threads on cooking forums where confounded bakers tried multiple different batter recipes, preparation methods, baking temp combinations, mold-lining techniques, and voodoo, I knew that this was something I wanted to try.
What could possibly go wrong?
1. I’ve never had a canelé, and as such, have no idea whether I will like them or not, or how they’re supposed to taste
2. The tin-lined-copper-molds? Yeah, they’re about $30 EACH. I’m not quite prepared to spend $240 on specialty molds for something that I don’t even know if I’ll like
3. They make silicone molds for canelés. They cost $12 for 8 molds. They do not provide the same type of crust, but they cost $12.
4. Where the hell do you buy food-grade beeswax?
5. I was too ashamed to take photos with my real camera, so you get phone pictures. Anywhere you need to fill in details, just pretend that they’re perfect.
Yeah, I bought the $12 mold. I figured this would at least give me a starting point to see if I was willing to spend $240 on the real deal. I’m not. They’re good. I actually enjoyed them and got a crisp crust and custardy interior, and know where I need to improve, and I have a few ideas, but I would much rather buy some really nice cake pans or other less specialized super expensive shit. Or go get 2 massages. That would be nice too. Anyway. The silicone pan works FINE. Not magnificently, but it’s good enough.
I didn’t bake them long enough. I also didn’t line my pan with beeswax, because… well… who has food grade beeswax lying around? Not me! And I even bought food-grade lye for some pretzel experiments.
Guess what? They still turned out OK. And shiny. They climbed out of the pan (which according to the internet, happens, but is avoidable with a particular method in which you bake them) which gave them what the internet refers to as “pale asses.” I will adjust and see if pale-ass avoidance is possible with the $12 pan.
And the interior? Custardy. I’m still not happy with the size of the air pockets, but I have a few ideas for how to improve. So I will try, and see where that gets me. On the up side, I’m generating good will with my coworkers, and these aren’t yet another batch of experimental caramels(which I intend to make for halloween).