Quite a bit I think. On the one hand I’m learning what I like and I don’t like in a cannelé. On the other I’m learning what a cannelé actually is. It’s not a “cake” as it’s often described. Rather it’s either a very eggy candy or a very, very sweet custard. I lean toward the latter interpretation, as it explains why so many of my attempts before I tried the Malgieri recipe look and taste like broken, collapsed, syrupy custard pie. It also explains why the Malgieri version, which includes an egg tempering step, produces a cannelé with a consistent interior texture.
Interestingly, reader Candide sent me a recipe last week that includes an egg tempering step. It seemed excessively fussy to me at the time, but in light of yesterday’s events and my new view of cannelés, it suddenly seems like genius. I’m going to try that next, but offline as I don’t want to turn the blog into a full-time cannelé lab. I’ll put up progress reports as I go.
Why not stop where I am and declare victory? Because on further thought there are a few things that are still troubling me about the Malgieri recipe. For one the cannelés it produces are amazingly sweet. That’s not bad per se, but I wonder if a successful cannelé can be produced with a little less sugar. Also they’re heavier than I’d like. That’s a result of the sweetened condensed milk, which I feel like I might be able to eliminate. But who knows? These may be the best that can be achieved using American ingredients. I won’t know until I do a little more fiddling.
The way I see it, a cannelé had better be amazing to justify the expense of those little copper molds (which, I’m discovering, really do make a big difference). I’ve finally made some good ones, but not amazing ones. I hope those aren’t too far off.