A cannele is a classic French pastry that is completely unique in both its flavor and texture. Sometimes described as a handheld creme brulee, they have a crisp and darkly caramelized exterior, yet have a surprisingly dense and custardy interior. Canneles are typically flavored with vanilla and rum, both of which are a good match for any custardy dessert. These Cinnamon Canneles do include vanilla, but cinnamon is the primary flavoring, adding a delicious aroma and warm spice to this classic French favorite. For me, the cinnamon adds a nod to one of my other favorite pastries – a churro – which also has a wonderful combination of crisp exterior, tender interior and lots of cinnamon!
The recipe is very straight forward and it should only take you a few minutes to whip it up, so there is very little hands-on time with this recipe. The batter for canneles isn’t difficult to make, however it does need to be prepared well in advance and rested for at least 24 hours – and up to 48 hours, if you are running a bit late! – before baking to ensure that the pastries have the proper texture when baked.
At first glance, you’ll notice that there is more vanilla than cinnamon. The cinnamon – especially if yours is relatively fresh (toss old spices and replace them with fresh for best results – is so aromatic that you simply don’t need quite as much. There is a generous splash of rum in the batter, too. The alcohol will bake off and it will only add to the complexity of the vanilla in the end. Use an aged or dark rum, rather than a white rum, for the best flavorful results.
The canneles have a very long baking time, which allows their exteriors to become dark brown and deeply caramelized. Traditional cannele molds are made from metal and they are greased with beeswax to ensure that the pastries don’t stick. I prefer to use silicone molds, as they are much less expensive and much easier to use. Silicone is already nonstick, so you don’t need to fuss with wax, and the canneles will brown and crisp very nicely in the molds. If you’re making these at a professional level, then splurging on the beautiful, traditional molds is worth it, but silicone is a fantastic option for me and most other home bakers.
Canneles are at their best when they are fresh out of the oven, just cool enough to handle. You’ll really smell eggy custard and cinnamon when you unmold them, and will pick up caramel and vanilla when you take that first bite. They’re delicious! Bake up a batch the next time you’re entertaining for brunch or want to serve up a dessert that’s a little out of the ordinary. If you don’t eat them all the first day (which I recommend!), warm them up for a few minutes in the oven before serving to crisp them up a bit before serving leftovers.
2 cups whole milk
2 tbsp butter
1 cup cake flour
1 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons rum
In a small saucepan, bring milk and butter just to a simmer.
In a large bowl, sift together cake flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Whisk in eggs, egg yolks, vanilla extract and rum until smooth.
Remove the milk from the heat and slowly stream in the hot milk while whisking to create a smooth batter. Strain batter into a large measuring cup and refrigerate for 24-48 hours. You should have approximately 4 cups of batter.
Preheat oven to 425 F. Place an eight-cavity silicone cannele mold on a baking sheet. Whisk the batter gently in case it has separated, then fill 8 cavities, leaving about 1/3-inch of room at the top of each cavity.
Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350F and bake for 60-70 minutes, until canneles are very dark brown. Allow canneles to cool for at least 20 minutes in the molds, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Clean the molds and repeat with remaining batter (if baking in batches).
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