In the spirit of pro-kitchen-gadgetry, I might mention the great success that was finally making cannelés, months after my mother got me a silicone cannelé-mold-thingy and... fewer months, but still months, after buying the mini-bottle of rum, equally one-purpose as far as I was concerned, as I don't like to drink rum.
I first tried one of the little baked-custard cakes in class, when Lauren Shockey, a college friend, former French major, and now celebrity, brought them in. And it was like, one does not find the likes of this in Hyde Park. And I kicked myself for not being on the path to a career in anything (officially) food-related.
So the one-purpose device that is a silicone muffin-tin-type thing for cannelés sat in a drawer as these things do, until Jo asked me, half-sarcastically because of the time not long ago when we had brownies and shtetl apple cake at the ready, why I didn't make cannelés. And I thought, that's a really good question!
But there were two reasons. One, the recipe called for leaving batter in the refrigerator overnight, and I have a rule about this: I will not make anything that needs to be started the day before, because that's going down a road I'd rather avoid. Two, the recipe (in here) calls for whole milk, which, as someone who prefers skim and is not accustomed to buying two types of milk, I'd forget to pick up. Oh, and Reason 3: after a failed attempt at from-scratch croissants, I was thinking this notoriously challenging dessert would be beyond my capabilities.
Not so, because not so challenging, after all, thanks to our good friend the electric hand-mixer. A few simple ingredients, a few minor improvisations (the recipe called for a vanilla bean pod, so I tossed in some vanilla extract, and "blond" sugar, so I mixed some brown sugar in with white... and rather than breaking out the food scale I brought back from Paris for this purpose - recipes generally, not cannelés specifically! - I went to those measurement-conversion sites and approximated), and completely ignoring the recipe's advice about gently folding in whichever ingredients, instead electromixing away (but staying true to all the waiting-related instructions), I ended up last night with a bowl full of what looked like pancake batter but smelled distinctly like cannelé.
After the requisite at least 12 hours in the fridge, plus one of returning to room temperature on the counter, I risked the possibility of the silicone thing sticking to the metal baking sheet it, for lack of a better option, was propped up on in the oven, and it worked. The great thing about making your own cannelés is that if you prefer yours medium rare, that's an option, so if the one pictured strikes you as underdone, let it be known that this is intentional, and that if you don't hear from me for a while, it was the undercooked egg.
In any case, the result was absolute, straight-up, this-could-be-Paris. Taste and texture alike were flawless. (The shape, as Jo pointed out, would be right whatever I'd poured in, what with the molds. So the photo doesn't tell you much.) Which suggests that there's no need to wax copper molds, to weigh ingredients, to have extra-fresh eggs (not for taste, at least) or to purchase a vanilla bean or special sugar for the occasion. (Or "farine T.55," which I don't think is sold at the Wawa.)
Adapted from Magnier-Moreno, Mon Cours de Cuisine: La Pâtisserie:
Makes 15 cannelés plus some extra cannelé batter.
2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
just under 1/2 cup flour
2 eggs and 2 egg yolks
just under 2 oz butter, in pieces
4 teaspoons rum
1. In a saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla.
2. Put the sugars, flour, and eggs into a bowl, and mix (here, the hand mixer is perfection) till it's mixed.
3. While still mixing, slowly pour in the heated vanilla-milk.
4. Add the butter while still mixing.
5. Once the mixture reaches room temperature (or just after a little bit), pour in the rum.
6. Cover and refrigerate over night.
7. An hour before you're going to bake them, preheat the over to 520F and take the mixture out of the fridge.
8. Just before pouring, mix a bit once more, but this can be done with a spoon.
9. Put the silicone wobbly "tin" on a baking sheet (not non-stick, I'd think) before you begin pouring, or be an idiot (oops) and pour first.
10. Ideally, you're pouring from one of those Pyrex things with a spout, but ours is holding the 1/2-cup scoop for Bisou's dry feed (don't ask), so you can make a mess with a ladle. What matters is that you don't fill the cups up all the way, but very close is fine. You just don't want it spilling everywhere (oops).
11. They stay in the oven for 11-12 minutes at 520, then, without removing them, switch the temperature down to 350, and wait an hour, or more if you prefer "well done."
So the ones on the edge came out just right, but the middle ones are kinda on the raw side, so much so that they stick to the mold. Not sure about making breakfast (don't judge) out of a pastry with what tastes like not-cooked-off rum, not to mention near-raw egg that's been sitting on the kitchen counter overnight. So I put them in at 350 for a while more (15 mins?) and we'll see...