Thursday, November 5, 2009

Petite Passions: Canelé

We don't know how you've been weathering the economic storm, but we've been trying to cut corners wherever we can. That means no more fancy dinners out, fewer movies in theaters, and definitely zero sprees at the mall.

So when we long for the days we can splurge once again, we remember an important adage to finding joy in life… “It’s the little things.” We don’t need fancy cars and wild extravagances. It's life’s small and simple pleasures that mean the most. These tiny indulgences, forgotten gems, and guiltless pleasures that can make a not so great, rainy afternoon a little bit better have become our Petite Passions…

Here’s the first in an ongoing series that might help brighten an otherwise lackluster day…


This palm sized, French fluted cake is like crème brulee to go. Texture-wise, imagine the edge of perfectly cooked corner brownie that has not quite burnt, firm yet chewy edges. Now imagine that carmelized exterior wrapped around a soft custardy center.

We were first introduced to them at the always-delicious restaurant of the same name in Atwater Village, California. After diners gorge themselves on Boeuf Bourgignon or Duck Confit, the incredibly friendly staff hands each guest a complimentary canelé as a lovely parting gift – one made extra especially delicious because it is FREE.

Still the preceding meal doesn’t always fit into our budget, so we ventured around Los Angeles looking for a cheaper option and ended up at Café Surfas in Culver City. We were thrilled to find not only the traditional version of the silky treat, but a variety of flavors including chocolate and banana… for just $2.25 each. That’s cheaper than most of the now over-glorified cupcake shops everyone’s been scarfing down for the past few years.

If you’re dying to try one of these oh-so Continental treats, you can search your local French bakeries. Or if all else fails you can take a trip to Trader Joe’s and pick up a box of six Canelés de Bordeaux in the freezer section. But be forewarned - TJ’s version doesn’t hold a candle to the real thing.

Here are some other spots to savor a canelé across the country:

Mission Beach Café in San Francisco, California

St. Honore Boulangerie in Portland, Oregon

Canto 6 Bakery and Café in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts

Written by Amy & Nancy Harrington

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