On a Canelé Quest Through France
My wife loves to bake, everything from bread, to scones, to her latest passion: canelés. And they taste, well, divine!
It all started with a recipe and a pan she ordered online and her practicing with me as a guinea pig. The first few didn’t taste right but after a more rounds, she perfected them. All this was done in advance of a trip we had planned to France, where she planned to compare her canelés to those of the best French pâtisseries.
We started out flying to Paris and from there, we took the TGV to Dijon where we boarded the L'Impressionniste, one of the luxury canal barges of the European Waterways fleet. This was a seven-day cruise through the Burgundy area where we enjoyed three gourmet meals a day prepared by our personal chef and slowly made our way through some of the prettiest countryside in France. Each day, we stopped at various towns and had time to explore.
More than once, my wife ducked into a pastry shop and came out with a bag filled with these tempting little treats. After sampling them, she gave her seal of approval (big smile on her face) that let me know that they were at least as good as hers, but probably better.
We had about four days to spend on the return trip to Paris and part of our stay included the luxury hotel, Fouquet’s Barrièr. Complete with your own personal butler, free minibar stocked with your favorites and plush surroundings, this is the place to experience, at least once in your life, what it’s like to be truly pampered.
Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements, each one containing its own treasures that include some of the world’s best museums, cathedrals, gardens, and, of course, pâtisseries that specialize in pastries and sweets.
The Metro takes a little getting used to but is one of the best ways to get to and from various areas. I liked the St. Michael and St. Germain districts and we spent a good deal of time walking around the cobblestone streets, taking photos, and sampling canelés. It has been suggested that canelés were an invention of 18th century nuns in a Bordeaux convent. The confections are typically about two inches in height and, as I found out, quite addicting.
We stumbled into BHV Marais on a busy shopping street that not only had a restroom but a huge cooking section with canelé molds galore, sending my wife into mild euphoria. Her only problem was figuring out how to squeeze another cooking item into her already crammed rollerboard case. “I’ll get it in there,” she confidently muttered.
As our time in France came to an end, we made our way back to the airport and back home. Our memories were still strong, lingering in our jet-lagged haze, but it was comforting to know that whenever the mood struck, we could always bake our way back to the land rich in history and canelés.
A version of this story was originally published by JustSayGo.
On a Canelé Quest Through France - Recipes
Champs Les Sims, France is a travel destination introduced with The Sims 3 World Adventures. It's the home of the new expansion skill, nectar making, with a countryside full of harvestables to gather. In fact, you can find nearly every new type of fruit offered by World Adventures in France. Look to the plant list for information on finding these, as well as rare grapes. While there aren't a lot of tombs to explore without following adventures, there's a lot of treasure to be found in the old ruins and catacombs of this land.
Ortolans, Songbirds Enjoyed as French Delicacy, Are Being Eaten Into Extinction
To prepare the French delicacy ortolan bunting, one must capture the tiny songbird as it attempts to migrate south for the winter, force feed it much like the witch from “Hansel and Gretel” fattens up her hapless victims, and, finally, drown it in a vat of Armagnac brandy.
Once the ortolan is dead (and, thanks to the brandy, marinated), it is cooked, plucked and served. The diner traditionally veils their face with a napkin before consuming the bird—bones, feet, head and everything but the beak—in a single bite. In the words of the Telegraph’s Harry Wallop, “The napkin is partly to keep in all the aromas of the dish, partly to disguise you having to spit out some of the bigger bones. But, mostly, because diners wish to hide the shame of eating such a beautiful creature from the eyes of God.”
Today, ortolan poaching is illegal in France, but a thriving black market ensures the highly controversial dish continues to be served. Now, a sweeping new survey published in Science Advances reveals the toll that French ortolan hunting has had on the species, which the International Union for Conservation of Nature lists as endangered in France. (In the IUCN’s global assessment, the ortolan bunting receives a less critical threat status.)
Frederic Jiguet, a conservation researcher for France’s national museum of natural history and the new study’s lead author, doesn’t mince words in an interview with Ivan Couronne of Agence France-Presse, saying, “If hunting of the ortolan continues, it will lead to the ortolan's disappearance.”
According to the researchers’ model, if half of the 30,000 ortolans hunted in France each year were spared, the species’ risk of extinction would stand at around 66 percent within a century. But even if hunting is completely eradicated, giving the species “an average of twice the chance of survival,” as Jiguet told AFP, it may not be enough to save the bird from extinction.
According to Cosmos’ Natalie Parletta, Jiguet and his colleagues embarked on their research in an attempt to investigate southern French hunters’ claims that their catches represent only a small portion of the ortolan’s overall population. The team relied on light loggers, or small electronic devices that measure light intensity, to identify the birds’ locations, stable hydrogen isotopes to gauge feather growth, and genotyping of 266 migrant birds to compare breeding populations from different areas in Europe and Asia.
Based on this data, the researchers concluded that one-third of the 300,000 ortolans flying through southwestern France on an annual basis come from northern regions including the Baltic states, Finland and Scandinavia. These northern populations, the study’s authors write, are “directly threatened with extinction and [can]not persist without marked increases in survivorship.”
While the European Union banned ortolan hunting in 1979, France did not follow suit for another 20 years. Even then, according to The New York Times, restrictions remained largely unenforced until 2007. Between 1980 and 2016 alone, Europe’s ortolan population dropped by 88 percent, largely thanks to habitat loss, agricultural practices and climate change, but also in part due to illegal French hunting.
As Parletta notes, the key to these northern ortolans’ long-term survival is relatively simple. As it stands, an estimated 10 percent of the 300,000 ortolans that pass through southwestern France on their annual sojourn south to Africa fall victim to black market hunters. To lower the risk of extinction, tougher hunting regulations are needed to ensure that the ortolan can make it out of France without ending up on the secret menu of a gourmet restaurant.
My Canelé Misadventures, Thus Far
Nine years ago, I started out with two sets of silicone canelé molds and an uncomplicated recipe that I had pulled off the internet (http://antioche.lip6.fr/portier/0507. ). No beeswax, no greasing, no freezing--just mix the batter, chill a day, and bake in silicone. Simple. The results were pale in spots, crunchy in some places (though only for a couple of minutes out of the oven), but with delicious custardy-cakey interiors. As the canelés cooled, they started bending out of shape and developing a rather plasticine exterior. Since the results did not seem to hold sufficient promise, I put the molds and the recipe aside, assuming that to bake proper canelés I'd have to go the copper molds-and-beeswax route--and I wasn't masochist enough to fall for that one!
But there's no fool like an old fool, and I recently found myself forking over 60 Euro for a lovely box of 10 copper molds.
Which led to my wasting way too much time on the internet, looking up recipes, techniques, every what-not, and why-not about making canelés I could find. Having thoroughly addled the old gray matter, I then spent hours fiddling with beeswax and canola oil--beeswax in the microwave, beeswax in the oven, beeswax melted by kitchen-torch-- in an effort to lightly and evenly line the interior of the precious bleeping copper molds. (Did I mention that the resulting "white oil" had a tendency to suddenly coagulate on my silicone brush, so I ended up pouring and swirling the quick-drying beeswax in the molds?) When the coating got too thick on a mold, which was in 9 out of 10 of them, I'd put the mold in a warm toaster oven, which invariably resulted in an oily puddle at the bottom of the mold, necessitating another attempt at coating the interior before the oil turned to wax, which it would do quickly and abruptly. Eventually, I settled for far-from-perfect linings, put the molds in the fridge, and went to sleep.
Thanks to threads on this Board, and to links found on them, particularly http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/340907 and the e-gullet thread to which it led, I found a recipe attributed to Pierre Hermé (which turns out to be virtually identical to the one I used 9 years ago.) I also studied the Chow video, "The Perfect Canele": http://www.chow.com/stories/12156. Had Cynsa not told me a few days ago, I would never have known that souschef had been working on canelés at virtually the same time, with much more success (Hats off to souschef!), and posting on it on this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/719393.
So what did I do? A lot wrong, I think--and here I'd welcome comments and suggestions from the many hounds who are more accomplished bakers than I can ever hope to be. First, as in the video, I scalded 500 ml. of milk with a vanilla bean, which I immediately poured over 50 g. of cold butter in my blender. Finding that the milk was now just warm, I blended in, first, the 2 eggs + 2 yolks, then the 100 g. flour and 250 g. sugar mixture, and finally, the 15 g. rum. The mixture was a thoroughly combined, but frothier than I had expected--the blender container was very full. (I had theorized that a blender would eliminate any need to strain the mixture--yes, I am that lazy--and I hoped that the refrigerated rest period would get rid of any unwanted air bubbles.)
A day and a half later, after the molds had chilled for a couple of hours and the convection oven was preheated to a good 190C/375F, I placed the molds on a baking sheet, filled them, and popped them in the oven. I still had enough batter left over to fill around 15 of my old thimble-sized silicone canelé molds, which went into the oven around 15 minutes after the copper ones.
Since the baking time would be over an hour, off I went to the farmers market nearby, returning just before an hour was up to find--POPOVERS. Holy cow! My canelés had BALLOONED! A giggle escaped me just before the gasp of dismay. I reached for my kitchen fork and tried to poke the air out the soufflés, but it was too late. . . I let the disasters bake through the rest of the time, and removed them, a dark, glossy mahogany, from the oven. When I tipped them out of the molds, I found that the bottoms of the cakes were not only blonde, but seriously abbreviated! They had climbed halfway up the molds: it seemed like the batter had tried to heave itself out of its container. That night, I had a nightmare about canelés escaping their molds and running out of the oven to dominate the world :-)
Proof of the pudding being in the eating, I'd have to say that the beeswax and the copper molds certainly gave me the shiny, crunchy exterior I had hoped for--just not in the right shape! And the recipe ingredients yielded a wonderful rummy, custardy deliciousness that can hold its own anywhere. Now if only I can get the next batches in the right shape, I shall be one happy chowhound!
When all hope seemed lost, the Magic Academy discovered a new breed of souls lying dormant within “Food”. In a race against time, the scientist began to research and develop a powerful Magic Crystal that could awaken the souls lying dormant in food. Through countless failures, they finally succeeded in awakening these Food Souls. Food Souls were not only conscious and highly intelligent but they also had the abilities of magic. They quickly became the deciding factor in the war against the Fallen Angels.
The awakening of Food Souls instilled hope into humanity again. And as the struggle between Fallen Angels and humans continued, balance was once again restored. The survival or extinction became a question that can only be answered by time itself.
Babelle is a French owned, London based company, inspired by the mythical story of “Babel”, a place where the world first met and exchanged exotic goods despite the confusion created by the different languages spoken. Babelle acts as a bridge to sweet indulgence, offering a combination of classic and innovative culinary techniques to create a unique product.
At Babelle we respect and build on a four-century old French tradition, using new flavours and techniques to bring the Canelé into the modern world.
Canele de Bordeaux
This has to be one of my all-time favorite things to consume alongside a parisian macaroon. The jewel I speak of is a canele'. My first experience with this exquisite pastry was when I was working at Osterio del Circo/Le Cirque at The Bellagio in vegas. i have been on a quest to find a proper recipe and I may have found one.
The canelé de Bordeaux (a.k.a cannelé bordelais) is a magical bakery confection, a cake with a rich custardy interior enclosed by a thin caramelized shell. It's a brilliant construction developed long ago by an anonymous Bordeaux cook, whose innovation has been subjected to 300 years of refinements.
Nearly black at first sight, bittersweet at first bite, the crunchy burnt sugar canelé-shell makes an exquisite complement to its smooth, sweet filling, fragrant with vanilla and rum.
Small enough to eat out of hand, these little cakes have recently gained cachet after years of neglect to the extent that they may one day rival the popularity of crème brûlée in the category of caramelized French sweets.
Many recipes don't carry a tale the canelé carries many. One of the oldest refers to a convent in Bordeaux, where, before the French Revolution, the nuns prepared cakes called canalize made with donated egg yolks from local winemakers, who used only the whites to clarify their wines. Any records that might verify this were lost in the turbulent revolution, thus relegating the convent story to legend.
But the alternative tale may be even better: residents of Bordeaux, who lived along the docks, gleaned spilled low-protein flour from the loading areas, then used it to make sweets for poor children. The small canelé molds, fluted and made of copper or brass, were nestled in embers to be baked.
Whatever the actual derivation, the popularity of canelés has risen and fallen numerous time over the years. Twenty five years ago, when I first started working in Bordeaux, I never heard of these little cakes. No local guide or notable cookbook published since the start of the 20th century even mentioned them. Later, I heard that a few Bordeaux bakers were working to revive their local specialty.
Soon, the little cakes, described by a local culinary historian as shaped like "a Doric column without a base," began cropping up in all sizes and flavorings throughout France. In 1985, stunned by this surge in popularity, 88 Bordeaux patissiers formed a confrérie, or brotherhood, to protect the integrity of their canelés. They staged a "linguistic coup d'etat" by removing one of the n's from the old spelling (cannelé) to differentiate their cake, with its secret method of preparation, from bastardized versions. Today, canelé de Bordeaux is the official cake of the city, while cannelé bordelais is a generic name used in Paris, New York City, Osaka, Los Angeles, etc.
"Our canelé de Bordeaux had to be protected and promoted as our own," says Daniel Antoine, a jolly, stocky patissier who operates patisserie Antoine in Bordeaux. "Recently, chocolate and orange cannelés have appeared," he tells me. "We don't want them confused with the real thing."
The official recipe, he told me, has been written down and locked in his vault. All 88 patissiers have sworn to protect its secrets. This much is known: the general recipe calls for a cold batter to be poured into an ice-cold fluted, tin-lined copper mold, then placed in a very hot oven and baked for a very long time. After baking, the canelés are firmly tapped out onto a grill while still hot, then left to cool while their exteriors harden. They're at their most glorious one hour out of the oven within five or six hours they begin to turn spongy. patissiers have all sorts of tricks to revive them, ranging from putting them back in a hot oven for a few minutes, to flaming them with quality rum to crisp the shells. I believe they're so delicious that they're worth the expense of buying the special copper molds. (See below in recipe notes.) Silicone-coated Gastroflex molds are also available although I don't think they produce as good a result. On the other hand, the Cannele Silicon Flex 2.2" x 1.9"Ý mold available at Bridge's Kitchenware.com is a decent substitute for the copper molds. I brush the insides with a thin coating of "white oil" before using.
"The canelé is an artisanal product, so sometimes it doesn't come out perfectly," Antoine says. When I tell him that my canelés sometimes have pale yellow spots on their tops, he replies, "Oh, sure, I know that problem well. It's due to the puddling of oil in the crevices of the molds. When they come out that way, we say they have 'a white ass'!"
Antoine then compliments me on having figured out one of the major secrets, the special method of combining flour and butter. I had based my findings on a letter I received from him several years back. He smiles as I tell him how I finally succeeded in making delicious canelés with a custardy center. "Yes, I see you understand," he says unbegrudgingly.
Many patissiers line their molds with a film of "white oil" containing beeswax, a messy and highly flammable substance that may deter home cooks. In my opinion, this step is helpful if you want to successfully make canelés (see Cooking Notes below on an easy handling of beeswax).
To fully understand the fabulous quality of a true canelé de Bordeaux, eat it out of hand as a snack, with a glass of wine or a cup of coffee.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons baker's sugar
4 extra-large egg yolks
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
(see Cooking Notes)
1. Rinse a saucepan with cold water add the milk set over low heat heat to 183 degrees F
2. Place butter, flour, and salt in the bowl of a processor pulse until combined. Scatter sugar on top pulse once or twice to mix.
3. Add egg yolks process until mixture begins to tighten.
4. With the motor running, quickly and steadily pour hot milk into batter stop motor strain through very fine sieve into clean container press any congealed yolk through stir in rum and vanilla extract cool to room temperature cover refrigerate 24 to 48 hours.
5. About 6 to 7 hours before serving, lightly brush the interior of each copper mold with lightly warmed white oil set on paper towels crown side up to avoid pooling of oil in crevices set molds in the freezer at least 30 minutes before baking.
6. Heat oven to 400 degrees F SEE STEP 8 IF USING A CONVECTION OVEN.
7. Place chilled molds 1 1/2" apart on baking sheet gently stir or shake batter fill each mold almost to the top place on lower oven rack bake 1 3/4 to 2 hours, or until canelés are deep, deep brown in color, or if desired, almost black.
8. If using a convection oven, bake at 375 degrees F for 1 hour, 15 minutes for deep, deep brown canelés.
9. Remove the molds from the oven. Unmold as quickly as possible. To unmold, use an oven mitt to grasp a hot mold firmly rap the crown side against a hard surface to loosen the canelé tip out onto a rack cool to room temperature before serving (about 1 hour) repeat procedure with other canelés while they're still hot (if any canelés resist, bake 5 to 10 minutes longer OR if necessary, use a toothpick to loosen).
Canelés de Bordeaux is the "politically correct" name for this recipe. Additions or alterations to the recipe will run afoul of the "canelés gendarmes," transforming the baked product into cannelés Bordelais.
To season new molds: heat oven to 350 degrees F wash the molds in soapy water rinse dry thoroughly heavily grease the interiors with vegetable shortening or oil place on sheet tray place in oven 1 hour remove from oven place upside down on a rack return to oven heat 15 minutes turn off heat leave in the oven until room temperature.
After baking, don't wash or scrub the interiors of the molds. To remove baked debris: place the molds in a moderate oven heat until debris burns remove debris with paper toweling.
Store lightly oiled molds in a cool covered place.
To make "white oil": Place 1 ounce round of bee's wax in a 1 pint glass measuring cup melt in a microwave while still warm, gradually stir in enough safflower oil to make a whitened mixture, light enough to coat the back of a spoon) cool to room temperature store in the glass container at room temperature.
To coat pre-seasoned canelé molds with "white oil": use dabs of warmed oil to coat the interior and shake out excess.
Canelé batter can be frozen up to two weeks defrost in refrigerator.
Canelés turn spongy and heavy after 5 to 6 hours. To refresh: heat (without molds) in 450 degrees F oven 5 minutes remove from oven let cool until exteriors hardens.
Leftover baked canelés can be frozen up to 1 month to freeze, wrap individually in plastic wrap to serve, remove from the freezer while still frozen, bake unwrapped in 500 degrees F 5 minutes remove from oven let rest 30 minutes bake 5 minutes remove from oven cool until exteriors harden.
Canele Molds: The copper, tin-lined molds can be ordered from J.B. Prince (800/473-0577 jbprince.com), which carries three sizes (1 1/2" round by 1" high, 1 oz. capacity 1 1/2" round by 1 1/2" high, 1 1/2 oz. capacity 2 1/4" round by 2 " high, 3 oz. capacity), or from the Parisian culinary equipment store Culinarion (011-33-141-90-09-11 culinarion.com). Culinarion carries only one size, the three-ounce capacity mold, because it is the only one that is "politically correct."
Beeswax can be ordered from J&N Sales (765/459-4589 jandnsales.com.)
Note: You can substitute Nordic Ware's mini-bundt molds available at cooking.com. You will not need to use the "white oil."
From The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen: Recipes for the Passionate Cook
-2003 Paula Wolfert, All Rights Reserved
In 'Dirt,' Bill Buford Is Able To Offer An Authentic Adventure In French Cooking
Being in lockdown in Paris during the coronavirus pandemic turned out to be the perfect time and place to devour Bill Buford's new book Dirt.
Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking was just the antidote to confining apartment walls and the daily tedium of my own pedestrian meals.
I've lived in Paris for 16 years and I've never read Buford. So I first feared Dirt might be yet another expat tale of moving to France en famille, with all its tedious clichés.
I should have known better. Buford is a longtime fiction editor at The New Yorker magazine and author of Heat, a best-selling depiction of the city's restaurant scene. He is knowledgeable, quick and funny — and Dirt is a work of cultural, historical and gastronomical depth that reads like an action memoir.
Buford's quest to understand French cuisine takes him to Lyon, which is called the gastronomic capital of the world. Lyon is a city that creates chefs, says Buford, and he thinks he knows why: Everything the Lyonnais eat is grown right around them. "Lyon finds itself among vineyards and rivers and mountain lakes, among birds and pigs and fish," he writes.
But more importantly, says Buford, it's because it's a place where everyone shares the belief that "what happens at the table is among the most important activities in civilization. It is about intimacy, convivium, creativity, appetites, desire, euphoria, culture, and the joys of being alive."
In Lyon, Buford dives right in. Living in France makes me appreciate how deeply he went. Buford's relentless quest to understand the secrets of French cooking has him seeking out people and devouring experiences.
From his perch as an intern in the kitchen at the iconic La Mère Brazier, we experience the high-pressure atmosphere of a Michelin-starred restaurant, which is both amazing and frightening.
The kitchen can be a brutal world of daily bullying and humiliations. Take Mathieu, a 15-year-old aspiring chef who arrives eager for his internship. "He was like a petri dish of the workplace's toxins," writes Buford. "He had arrived innocent, got roundly abused, and was now trying to find his place as an abuser."
Then there is the shy Hortense, the only woman in the kitchen. She's subjected to the kind of harassment and jokes one can only imagine in a macho, French kitchen of the pre-#metoo era. But Hortense, like everyone else, has to suck it up and show rigueur for the good of the kitchen. And the axiom "What goes on in the kitchen stays there" prevails above all.
But there's a lot more to Dirt than tales of kitchen struggles. Discovering what goes into preparing cuisine at this level and scale is fascinating.
You might be in lockdown opening a can of beans, but with Buford you'll be cooking dishes like poulet en vessie — chicken cooked inside a pig's bladder stuffed with truffles, fois gras and cognac.
You'll slaughter a pig to learn how to make the boudin noir or blood sausage the Lyonnais (and all French) love. Doesn't tempt you? Well, the sauces will. In France there's a sauce for every dish, and Buford tries his hand at them all. He writes:
"The result was like an edible liquid expression of purple velvet, sweet because of the port and faintly meaty. the shallots and the mustard added sharpness but the sauce also had a textural quality that I hadn't expected, like a fabric. "
If you aren't interested in France or Europe or food, this book may not be for you, as it is incredibly detailed and focused on these topics. But if you are, it's a feast.
We meet the cast of characters central to Buford's culinary and cultural education: the chefs — including the Pope of French cuisine, Paul Bocuse — and the simple boulanger, Bob, who owns the bakery below his apartment and with whom Buford does his first culinary internship.
Buford obsesses over the intersecting currents of French and Italian culinary history. He pours over cookbooks: La Varenne's 1651 Le Cuisinier François, but also worn, family recipe books picked up at flea markets. "I coveted stained, used, filthy ones," he says, "and found an almost addictive pleasure in flipping through pages that had been studied, in some cases, more than a century before."
Buford describes one recipe book as "a seventy year conversation between a grandmother, a mother and a daughter, until finally it was swept out in an estate-clearing auction of whatnots and ended up on eBay."
He called another collection of recipes "radiant and sad and beautiful." It was put together on "sheets of another era's thin paper," by a French soldier captured by the Nazis when they invaded France in 1940. The prisoner of war painstakingly details the recipes for his nation's most beloved dishes — a cassoulet from the southwest a cervelas de Strasbourg from Alsace. Buford senses his urgency in case these should be lost. "It needs to be preserved, like civility, like dignity, like the table, like a shelter that protects us from the ugliness just outside our front door — the crudeness, cruelty, selfishness, the incomprehensible injustice."
That soldier, says Buford, recognized that cuisine "protects us in our humanity."
Buford's months-long stay in Lyon turns into five years — time enough to answer most of his questions, and for his insights to ripen. He even masters the poulet en vessie. But he stays so long he fears his sons may never speak perfect English! And that's when he realizes it's time to go.
But I am glad Buford stayed as long as he did. I feel he truly took me to the heart of French cuisine.
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A Foie Gras Candy Bar? The Carnivorous Dessert Trend
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Foie gras and pâté for dessert? It’s not uncommon to see these delicacies pop up on tasting menus and beyond as a savory-meets-sweet joyful ending to an eventful meal. At Chicago’s Temporis, chef Sam Plotnick’s foie gras ice cream combined with a canelé, black sesame, Sauternes, and passion fruit proves to be a winning combo. There’s something to be said about pairing perfectly textured, salty meat dishes with all things sweet.
Taking it a step further, chefs are pushing the boundaries of sweet and salty in a whole new way—in the form of candy bars. And it makes perfect sense. When fused with chocolate, caramel, and other sinful confections, you’re looking at one of the most alluring bites your palate will ever encounter. Imagine a crunchy, chewy Take 5 candy bar with foie gras in the center. Yes, thankfully, this does exist. And it’s everything you’d expect.
Here, where to nosh on these playful creations right now.
RoisterIn Chicago, Roister’s chef, Andrew Brochu, takes inspiration from a Take 5— a milk chocolate candy bar chock-full of pretzels, caramel, peanuts, and peanut butter—for his much-hyped-about foie gras candy bar. “I adjusted the recipe to make it taste great with an addition of foie,” he says.
Geraldine’s at Kimpton Hotel Van ZandtChef Stephen Bonin of hip Austin, Texas, eatery Geraldine’s added a Pig Face Candy Bar to his menu, mainly “because it’s fun,” he jokingly tells us. The meat candy trend is a way for chefs to get creative, while at the same time “making the taste buds dance.” Cheekily named, the starter is composed of a country-style pâté (made of pig heads) brûléed with raw sugar, served alongside house-made cheese crackers, chow-chow, and Dijon mustard. “We are at full production speed to keep up with the demand,” Bonin says of the confection, which was partly inspired by his grandmother’s cooking. Glimpse around the restaurant on any given day and you’ll find at least one, if not two, orders of the sweet, spicy starter on each table.
McCrady’sThe Whatchamacallit, a popular candy bar born in the late 1970s, makes a modern comeback at McCrady’s (not to be confused with the tavern) in Charleston, South Carolina—a no-brainer when visiting the Holy City. “Sean [Brock] loves both the Whatchamacallit candy bar and foie, and we wanted to find a way put them together,” notes pastry chef Katy Keefe of the aptly named Foiechamacallit creation. “The salty, rich cured foie works really well enrobed in peanut chocolate with a base of puffed Carolina Gold Rice and caramel.” Book in advance to get into Brock’s intimate, 18-seat, tasting menu–only venture, where unexpected is the name of the game.