Tutorial: Canelés (Cannelés) de Bordeaux

On a recent trip to New York, I had the delightful opportunity to visit Dominique Ansel’s bakery. Ansel, who created the Cronut (a croissant-doughnut hybrid), is one of the world’s most acclaimed pastry chefs. The French-trained Ansel holds numerous awards, including a James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef. In 2017, he was named the World’s Best Pastry Chef by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. The Daily Mail calls him “the most fêted pastry chef in the world.” Clearly, Ansel knows pastry.

Traditional canelés (cannelés) with dark rum and Tahitian vanilla split in half to show custardy interior

While the Cronut brought him fame in 2013 (TIME magazine even named the Cronut one of the “25 best inventions of 2013”), the employees I spoke to at Ansel’s eponymous pâtisserie were not particularly enthusiastic about the treat. “We get lines around the block, before we open, to this day,” one staff member sighed, “but really I find them a bit too sweet for my liking.” Instead, I was pointed toward Ansel’s unassuming canelés. There, sitting between the cookies in a small glass display, beckoned the most complicated pastry made in France.

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Liège Waffles

I like to consider myself a waffle connoisseur. Perhaps the title of Professional Waffler is a bit much, but when one purchases a state-of-the-art waffle iron (equipped with patented Waffle IQ™ technology that calculates optimal cooking times, an LCD screen, a batter moat, a few knobs, speakers, a lock, and over a dozen settings) no other title would give my obsession justice.

Liège waffles with red fruit and sour cherry sauce

That’s why, after buying the waffle iron and making waffles a half-dozen times, I was so surprised to see my passion begin to fade. Rather than enjoying a delectable waffle each morning, I sometimes caught myself turning to their inferior pancake cousins. Waffles just became so… boring.

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Crème Brûlée Tart with Figs

I hadn’t had crème brûlée for years when I came upon it on a restaurant menu last week. Interestingly, rather than serve the classic French dessert in a ramekin, the pastry chef opted for a rather inimitable presentation.

Fig crème brûlée tart

The crème brûlée custard was cut into cubes, arranged on a plate, and then caramelized. A variety of fruity sauces and shredded pieces of cake adorned the dish. The clever presentation inspired this blog post.

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