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Trader Joe’s Canneles de Bordeaux, reviewed

Trader Joe’s Canneles de Bordeaux

Canneles are a specialty kind of cake that originated over 2 centuries ago in the Bordeaux region of France. The little pastries are unique in that they have a crispy, caramelized outer coating and a soft, custardy center. Because of this contrast in textures, in addition to the fact that they are usually flavored with vanilla, canneles are sometimes referred to as “portable creme brulees.” They range from about 2-3 inches in height and for such small cakes have the impressively long baking time of over an hour. The pans are prepared with melted butter and beeswax to allow the sides of the cake to properly caramelize while preventing them from sticking to the molds. They can be quite tricky to make and, as a result, are not the sort of thing that you’ll regularly come across in cafes or bakeries – not in the US, anyway. I was very surprised to find a box of Canneles de Bordeaux sitting in the freezer case of my local Trader Joe’s.

The canneles come six to a box and are fully baked. They are traditionally baked – beeswax and all – before being frozen, and all you need to do is defrost them for 20 minutes before eating. Alternatively, they can be heated in the microwave for a few seconds to warm them up.

Unfortunately, these are no substitute for a real, fresh cannele. The flavor is good, and both the caramel and vanilla are very strong. The center is custardy, slightly better when warmed up. The problem lies in the exterior of the cannele. After being frozen, it isn’t crispy and the pastry isn’t going to recover that just-baked texture in the same way that you can’t quite recreate a fresh-from-the-oven cookie without starting with dough and an oven. The thin beeswax coating also contributes a slight chewiness to these that isn’t noticeable in the fresh version. So, they’re tasty and will make an enjoyable snack, but they’re not going to satisfy a craving for the real thing.

Trader Joe’s Cannele closeup

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14 Comments
  • Linda
    September 16, 2008

    Sorry to hear they aren’t up to the original. I got some pans several years ago but never tried a recipe yet. I was curious what they taste like but like you said frozen does change some things that can’t be the way they would be otherwise. I guess I expected some baking to be done to crisp them a bit. Maybe I’ll have to try some one of these days on my own to see what they are like. Though I probably won’t be doing beeswax since the pans are silicone.

  • Verena
    September 16, 2008

    I used to get canneles from a boulangerie in SF while I was still living in the US. They’re just heavenly! Sometimes I freeze them and just thaw them overnight and pop them in the toaster oven for 5-10 mins, and they turn out well with a crispy, slightly chewy crust and a soft, custardy interior.

    Darn, I miss canneles … the ones from Trader Joe’s look pretty yummy too. Maybe I’ll make some with these new silicon molds I got to satisfy the craving. I tried making them in muffin pans before but they didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to.

  • Maria
    October 13, 2008

    This was the first time I tasted these, and I love them!!!
    I can’t wait to taste the real thing!

  • Amy
    October 18, 2008

    I just bought a package of these at Trader Joe’s and found them to be chewy and tough. All of the bottoms of them were burnt too. I’m taking them back to the store. Did not like.

  • rayme
    November 4, 2008

    I had them for the first time and yes nothing including canneles can’t compare to homemade but since I’ve never had the homemade one’s these tasted wonderful. I just zapped one at a time for 20 seconds each. I even liked the burnt sugar taste!!!yummmmmmm

  • Deane
    December 23, 2008

    The canneles I bought from Trader’s were pretty dark, and have a burnt caramel taste on the exterior, not like I’ve had from a bakery. We’ll take ours back too.

    On the other hand, try their frozen (unbaked) chocolate croissants, very nice right out of the oven.

  • Carlos
    January 2, 2009

    My microwave must be tuned just right, 30 seconds and they come out perfect. For a frozen version of canneles the ones from TJ’s are great. Like most things from TJ’s, they are a fleeting experience. After carrying them for a few weeks my local TJ’s no longer has them.

  • pook
    January 3, 2009

    as an international flight attendant… i’m in paris 5 times a month. canneles de bordeaux are my gold standard for rating a new patisserie. them… and tart tatin. sorry to say that the worst in paris, are better than the ones from trader joe’s. but… if one addicted and they are all one can find in the states……….. one makes do!

  • peach
    January 15, 2009

    I couldn’t resist them when I saw them in Trader Joe’s, but I will agree that they are a disappoinment overall. The outside is very tough and chewy,and the bottom is slightly burned (beyond carmelized). However, the inside is yummy, and I’m a sweet hound and am eating them anyway! It has definitely piqued my interest for the real thing, although the whole beeswax thing seems pretty complicated. I saw a recipe on the food network that looks very authentic, but they almost scare you out of wanting to use the beeswax! maybe one day i’ll make it to Paris . . . :~)

  • Canneles
    January 20, 2009

    I’ve never heard of these things before, but I like custard and vanilla things. So I tried this. The outside is kind of tough, like others said, but that is because they are so chewy. I like the chew. I found the custard too be a little too sweet for my taste. And yes, the bottoms are burnt not caramelized. I don’t eat that part, which is unfortunate, b/c I’d like to eat the whole dessert. Presentation wise, it is a very pretty pastry. I hope one day I can find fresh ones. Or even make my own.

  • TJ's Canneles
    January 29, 2009

    Even though I never had the real thing when I bit into one of these things I knew TJ’s had missed it.

  • Rosy
    May 5, 2009

    These are excellent munchie food.
    I bought them yesterday and ate a total of 4 last night and 2 this morning.. so I’ll have to go get more.
    They are weird- chewy, burnt, etc, but I like that.
    And no, I’m not one of those freaks that likes burnt popcorn..

  • Dawn
    May 18, 2009

    I LOVE caneles and when I saw them in TJ’s I was ecstatic since I’ve never found them in the US yet. I have a box in my freezer but am sorry to hear they aren’t close to the originals!

  • mike
    August 28, 2009

    I love caneles too, but since I tried the new frozen TJ’s raspberry tarte, this is not my favourite dessert anymore.
    their raspberry tarte is so juicy, fruity ! simple and excellent. try it !

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