Ever since a friend extolled the virtues of Cannelle Patisserie to us some months ago, we’d been meaning to find time to make our way out to the Jackson Heights-East Elmhurst border to try it for ourselves. Finally, last weekend, we did. We were so happy with everything we ate that we couldn’t restrict this Fat Pants Friday to only one of Cannelle’s delicacies, so we decided to show you as many as we could haul home.
The beauty of Cannelle’s pastries and breads belies the bakery’s setting in a strip mall that looks out on a vast parking lot. It’s the kind of place you’d expect to find a Dunkin’ Donuts, but hardly an exemplary Paris-Brest or ethereal framboisine. But that’s what Cannelle’s co-owners, Gnanasampanthan Sabaratnam (who’s known as Samba) and Jean-Claude Perennou, are producing in their relatively modest but immaculate kitchen.
The two met in the kitchen of the Waldorf-Astoria, where Perennou was the executive pastry chef. Sabaratnam, a Sri Lankan immigrant who started out in restaurants as a dishwasher, had trained extensively in France, at one point doing a stint at Fauchon with Pierre Hermé. He and Perennou, who originally hails from Brittany, conceived Cannelle as a wholesale bakery, but changed their plans after their neighbors started lining up for their croissants and fruit tarts.
Two years later, Cannelle is doing brisk business, turning out some 1,000 croissants a week and catering to the diverse appetites of its clientele with everything from straight-up pecan pie to gateau Breton — this part of Queens, it turns out, is home to a large number of Breton expats.
Our favorite of all the pastries we tried was the pear tart, pictured above. The crust was tender, crumbly, and so buttery it bordered on savory, and cradled half a pear, which had been poached to almost melting consistency. It was simple, effective, and utterly blissful, and swiftly demolished any measure of restraint we pretended to possess.
We also sampled Cannelle’s espresso mousse cake, framboisine, Paris-Brest, and guava danish. The espresso mousse was a thing of creamy, malignant beauty, the framboisine delicate as Queen Anne’s lace, and the guava danish flaky, tart, and surprisingly refreshing for something containing such a formidable cargo load of butter.
The Paris-Brest, meanwhile, was a close competitor to the pear tart for our affections, thanks to the slivered almonds that armored its crust and its filling of hazelnut cream. We normally don’t go for creamy desserts, but this one more or less ruined us for anything else.
Cannelle is a bit of a haul if you’re relying on public transportation — it’s a 20-minute walk from the nearest subway station, which is Roosevelt Avenue. But given all you’ll want to eat once you get there, you’ll probably be grateful for the hike — we’re looking forward to doing it again as soon as Perennou and Sabaratnam begin turning out pumpkin pies, which they’ll conjure from the fragrant innards of freshly roasted cheese pumpkins.
75-59 31st Avenue, Jackson Heights
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