I suppose I should have posted this recipe before the Holiday season, it would have given all of you an edge in the dessert department. Many years ago while I was traveling in France I experienced canele de Bordeaux in all of its perfection and from then on I was in love. Problem was that once I obtained the recipe, it took me many years to learn how to prefect and that my fellow chef is the great challenge of cooking.
The best chefs in the world are masters of exposing the beauty of food in its simplest form. It is easy to cover a grilled piece of meat in a rich reduction sauce. But I have found over the years that it is not so easy to perfect the grand recipes of the world, which are often designed specifically to highlight the perfection of certain foods or techniques.
These wonderful delicacies derive from a recipe which dates back about four hundred years. I like to give them to special friends, or serve them at events as a gift to the client.
The reason why I am posting this after the holiday is plain and simple. I figured that regardless of how good a chef you might be, if you have not made canelé de Bordeaux before, it might take about a year of sporadic practice to get them right.
Canelé de Boudreaux appears to be nothing more than simple rum spiked custards baked in a mold. But the truth is, they are a pure stroke of genius in flavor and texture and it took me quite awhile to get them right.
When canelé de Bordeaux are made properly in copper molds lined with bees wax, or the new silicon version now available at most cooking stores, they are unbelievably delicious. It is imperative that the batter rest in the refrigerator at least 48 hours, to allow the flour, sugar, eggs and so-forth to fully integrate. Also it is equally important to cook them with great care and patience.
The batter is deceiving. In fact it looks like very loose pancake batter when it is finished and it is hard to conceive the outcome. Depending on the oven it may take as long as three hours to cook the buggers and to make matters worse, canelés de Bordeaux like to appear burnt.
When cooked perfectly, canelé are almost black on the outside and soft and custardy on the inside. When you pull them out of the oven they have to sit and cool for at least half an hour, during which time the exterior becomes hard and crispy, almost like the top of a Crème Brule, while the rum custard in the middle remains soft and creamy.
Long story short, this recipe is my gift to all of you in the hopes that it might serve as a welcome challenge and addition to your repertoires. In the three decades plus that I have been cooking, it has been recipes like this which have served to keep me both challenged and excited about my craft. For me, the beauty of working as a professional chef is that there is always more to learn.