Canelés are a specialty of the Bordeaux region of France. These small pastries are made from eggs, milk, flour, butter, sugar and rum in special molds that make them look like a tall mini bundt cake (but they don’t have a hole in the middle). I first came across them almost two decades ago when I started researching Bordelaise cuisine. For years, I considered making them until finally giving up on the idea – buying a mold for something I’d only make once seemed too wasteful. Still, my curiosity about them stayed.
Then a week ago, I found that Costco was selling these “Made in France” canelés. They were quite expensive, almost $10 for a package of 16 (each weighing a bit over 1 oz), but I had to see what they were like. Unfortunately, they weren’t very good.
The pastries are pretty dense, though I liked their airy, somewhat chewy consistency. They didn’t have much flavor, however. The rum masked whatever else was there, without really adding that much. And while I enjoyed the consistency, they were a bit too dry. All in all, I wouldn’t get them again. Now, if I ever find myself in Bordeaux, I might give a bakery-baked one a try.
I really wanted to get a treat today, but Grocery Outlet didn’t have much to choose from. I’d seen Sister Schubert’s Cinnamon Rolls before, but for some reason they hadn’t really drawn me. Still, with no other real choices I got them. Lord, I’m glad I did.
I don’t tend to like refrigerated cinnamon rolls (at least the Pillsbury kind) because they have a weird metallic flavor (I imagine it’s the preservatives). They are just not that good. These rolls, however, were delicious. They were moist, not too sweet, with lots of cinnamon flavor and came covered with sugar frosting. They may not be as good as homemade cinnamon rolls or the rolls you get at Cinnabon, but for being a frozen product they are very good.
You can cook the cinnamon rolls directly from the freezer, it takes 25 to 30 minutes in a preheated oven, or thaw them first and cook them for 15 minutes or so. I did the former.
I think they sell in regular stores for $3.50 or so (but I don’t know who carries them), but they’re current on sale at the San Leandro Grocery Outlet for $2. Tomorrow I’m going to go and get a few packages – they are frozen, so I can keep them in the freezer until I need them.
I made this very simple hors d’oeuvre/appetizer for my 2010 Xmas Eve dinner and I think it was my favorite dish of the evening. It couldn’t be simpler: just some caramelized onions and blue cheese on puff pastry – but boy, is it delicious. I plan to make it as often as I can
The original recipe called for making your own bready dough, but I was running late with all Christmas dinner preparations and decided to use up the extra puff pastry I had around instead. It worked out perfectly, though I had to increase the cooking time from that of the original recipe for the pastry to be fully cooked. If you roll the pastry thinner, it’ll cook quicker, however. These squares are pretty messy, so make sure to serve them with napkins.
The puff pastry I used is the one that Trader Joe’s sells under its own name, which comes in two thick flat sheets. It’s pretty good and I think only $4 for a $1 package. The blue cheese was Rosenborg Danish Blue, which I got for $4 lb!!!! @ Grocery Outlet. It’s a delicious cheese @ an incredible price.
Blue Cheese and Caramelized-Onion Squares
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 large onions, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 lb. puff pastry, defrosted.
6 oz crumbled blue cheese
Melt butter with oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until they start to brown and become soft, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently. Stir in the rosemary, sugar and salt. Reduce heat to medium and cook until the onions are soft and dark brown, about 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Let cool.
Preheat oven to 425F
Grease a large baking sheet.
Roll puff pastry sheets on a flour surface until they have the thickness you desire. Transfer to baking sheet and cover with caramelized onions. Sprinkle crumbled blue cheese on top.
Bake in oven until crust is golden and the cheese is bubbling – 20 to 30 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.