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Canelés: The Hot Sweet Treat for 2012

Get these babies while they're chaud.
Get these babies while they're chaud.
Courtesy of Épicerie Boulud

If 2011 was the year of the "               is the new cupcake," then 2012 is at least the year of definitive answers. And the answer is the canelé. This pint-sized dessert has been popping up at all over the city, and is definitely something that you should get your hands on.

A specialty of the Bordeaux region of France, a canelé is a fluted pastry that is approximately two inches tall. Prepared in a special pan, the cakey domed treats have a caramelized outside and custard-like inside that is commonly compared to a crème brûlée because of its combination of crunch and rich cream.

Lately, it seems like every French bakery worth its macarons is putting out canelés. Soho newbie Dominique Ansel serves an excellent version with an ultra-crunchy outside that is just this side of burnt. At $3, it's a pricey bite. But one that's extremely worthy.

Up on the Upper West Side, Daniel Boulud is putting out excellent canelés at his takeout/quick-bite spot Épicerie Boulud. You'll find the gems stocked by the register, making it hard to resist checking out without an impulsive add on. Grab one post-merguez-sausage-sandwich as a little dessert or stockpile them in your purse to munch on surreptitiously during a Lincoln Center performance.

You'll find the cylindrical desserts on the brunch menu at Greenwich Village's Minetta Tavern or at another downtown Keith McNally spot, Balthazar Bakery. They also make a mean one at the Midtown Petrossian bakery.

While the canelé may be poised to take the city this year, there's no doubt that other pastries are in line for top billing. What will be next? You'll just have to speculate.

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