A caramelized, mahogany exterior and custardy white insides are what makes a canelé a canelé. The recipe for this classic dessert, served in Le Pain locations worldwide, can be found in Le Pain Quotidien Cookbook.
Tips: There are two ways to go when making canelés: silicone or copper molds. Copper is the traditional method, but at $20 a piece, that's more off-putting than appetizing.
So, if you're dead-set on making canelés but unwilling to go broke, spring for silicone. One caveat: many silicone molds are poorly shaped, thus unable to perfectly mimic the flutes of a traditional canelé. Your best bet, both in form and function, is de Buyer. They make a 6-cup mold.
Next is the question of seasoning. No matter which mold you choose, if you want a caramelized, mahogany crust and custardy guts, you must season with beeswax. Instructions for seasoning are in the recipe itself; see "Tweaks" for more information.
Tweaks: If you've never made canelés, chances are you've never cooked with beeswax and butter. It's required to season copper molds, and strongly suggested for silicone.
The process is simple: melt a 1:1 mixture of butter and beeswax (an ounce of each is enough for a dozen molds) in a stainless steel bowl over simmering water. Use a pastry brush to paint the insides of the molds, going from top to base. Don't pour the mixture in the cups, or you'll have a puddle of wax at the bottom. If you're using silicone, freeze the molds afterwards. Copper molds have to be baked in order to season them (see recipe for instructions). Silicone, by nature, doesn't require seasoning. When it's time to clean up, the beeswax mixture will come off with hot soapy water.
For even baking, place the molds on a wire rack above your normal oven rack, and turn every so often. Be sure to check for doneness after 35 minutes or so; pull out the pan and tap or squeeze one canelé out. If there's still a little give, the inside will be custardy. If they're hard, take them out, even if they're not as browned as you'd like.
Get the Recipe
As always with our Bake the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Le Pain Quotidien Cookbook to give away.