Today is the last day of Carnival, Mardi Gras. In my own julsian calendar (that is the calendar made in my image and likeness) this means that there are just a few hours to go before I can say with granitic confidence that Spring is here! Yes, methinks Carnival has always been the last obstacle that stands between me and the spring, the flowers, the warm and scented air, the picnics in the garden and the nice walking in the Florence city centre, when the air takes that indefinable colour that makes you say that, yes, there we are, we’re living the sweetest time of the year.
Although I’ve not been celebrating Carnival in the last few years, I can still remember that time when I used to come back from San Gimignano Carnival parade or kid disco dance with confetti everywhere, even in my underwear! Looking back, nine times out of ten I was sick at home instead of wearing fancy dresses, but I can still draw my own personal top five memorable Carnival fancy dresses.
- At the top there can be anything else but the seahorse, an aerospace engineering masterpiece made by mum for what regards the fabric and my dad for what regards the iron wire, something I’m still proud of! I cut down so many children with that tail!
- In second place there is the elementary school clown, made with the same striped suit recycled from the previous year’s clown, with whom I won the prize for the couple dance with a girlfriend (it was the Carrà’s soca dance, I still remember that day, it was 1990, I was 9!)
- In third place, the middle school clown: when all my girlfriends had malicious mechanic or soldier overalls with garters peeping out from strategically designed cutters, I – blessed childhood – was dressed with a fun, colourful polka dots clown dress, with a huge white wig and a wonderful make-up. Unfortunately my make-up lasted for just a few minutes because one of these nice girls dressed as a soldier sprayed my face with Carnival foam… I began the party as a clown and finished it as Munch’s scream.
- The fourth one is my grandma’s favourite dress, a Charleston dancer, with sequins, feathers and necklaces. During the third year of high school my grandma saw her granddaughter dressed as a woman for the very first time! This was also my first time in a disco, quite memorable, I admit!
- On the fifth and last place, my last Carnival dress during the fourth year of high school, a wood spirit. Living the I am madly in love with Shakespeare period, I decided to dress as the spirit of the forest in A Midsummer Night’s dream: tulle, bodysuit, tights, earthy colours… the more I look at that photos, the more I realize I resembled the Caterpillar instead of an ethereal spirit! Maybe this is the reason this was my last Carnival fancy dress…
Then, since I celebrated the Valentine’s Day in spite of my chronic and acute single-ness, I want to celebrate also Mardi Gras, the last day of Carnival, and in the same time my own spring’s eve, with a French treat I’m sure you’re gonna love! The Canelés de Bordeaux have the same outer texture of Carnival fritters, but inside they are soft, sweet, they almost melt in your mouth. They are extremely easy to make, although they require attention in the baking process.
They remind me of spring because I saw them for the first time at Mr Mowielicious, who took the recipe from Christelle is flabbergasting. To make them I studied also Chocolate and Zucchini‘s recipe and read the posts written by our Sandra from Un tocco di Zenzero and Sigrid from Il cavoletto di Bruxelles. I baked these delicious canelés, then I read Chez Pim‘s unmissable compendium, something you definitely have to read if you want to bake canelés, and I realized that mine are not sufficiently brown and caramelized, but in a moment of self-indulgence I reckon they are not bad at all!
Serve about 16 Canelés
- 250 ml milk
- 30 g butter
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 100 g sugar
- 70 g plain flour
- 50 ml rum
- 1 vanilla pod
Warm the milk and the butter on medium heat until the butter is completely melted. Let the milk and butter mixture cool down.
In the meantime, whisk the egg, the egg yolk and the sugar. Add the sieved flour and mix in the milk, pouring it little by little. At the very end add in the milk and the vanilla pod, split open. Pour in a jug and let it rest in the fridge overnight.
The next day, remove the jug from the fridge and whisk the mixture.
Preheat the oven to 220°C. Brush the canelés moulds with the melted butter and fill them to 3/4 of their capacity. Bake for about 15 minutes, then, without opening the oven, lower the temperature to 180°C and bake for another 60 minutes, until the top of the canelés are browned and caramelized.
Remove from the oven and unmould the canelés immediately. Let them cool completely on a wire rack.