Things We Love: DC’s Smack Caneles

Move over, macarons.

Make way, croissants.

There’s an equally delightful French pastry in DC called Smack canelés (or cannelés). The baker and purveyor of these delicious, bite-sized treats is Stéphane Muszynski, a DC resident by way of Paris.

“It’s a very interesting pastry because it’s crunchy on the outside and custard-like on the inside,” Muszynski says. “It seems very simple, but it’s a labor intensive product.”

Muszynski uses one copper mold per canelé, each of which are individually coated with beeswax and butter to give it a slight honey flavor and create the caramelized sugar coating that helps give it its crunch. Add to that a 24-hour sitting period for the batter – before baking – and you’ve got one time-intensive sweet.

Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why, until a few years ago, canelés were a relatively obscure item, even in their native France. It was there, ten years ago, that Muszynski first tried canelés at an event he was attending.

“They weren’t the featured dessert, but they were very intriguing,” he says. “It was then that I decided to try making them myself.”

Muszynski developed his canelé technique over time and soon began preparing them for friends and dinner parties he attended. In 2011, he and his wife, Wendy, decided to launch Smack – a quick, easy-to-remember brand that avoided confusing the product with the similarly-pronounced cannoli – in Washington, DC.

“We have been very lucky launching our business here and being part of the blossoming food scene here,” Muszynski says. “The people in the industry here provided a lot of great advice when we were starting out and continue to be very supportive.”

With that support, Muszynski has developed canelés that are as equally appealing to see as they are to taste. Some have the traditional flavor profile of Tahitian vanilla bean, rum, and almond. Others are dipped in chocolate. Some use different colored dots that correspond to an ever-expanding range of flavors, including salted caramel, lemon, black sesame, and green tea.

“We decided to do miniature sizes,” he says. “It makes it more playful, so you can try a little bit of the different flavors.”

Ultimately, Muszynski says his goal is to make his canelés a unique-to-DC pastry. “I want people to enjoy them as much as I enjoy living here.”

Want to try canelés for yourself? Check out the Smack website here. Upon receiving, be sure to store them in your refrigerator and consume within 2-3 days. Bon appétit!

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