Header image courtesy of @risebyclassified (via Instagram)
With its crunchy caramelised crust and custardy rum- and vanilla-flavoured centre, a canelé—also spelled cannelé—is a perfect bite-sized accompaniment to a cup of tea or coffee. A speciality of the French city of Bordeaux, the creation of this beloved pastry is alternately attributed to nuns or winemakers looking to utilise leftover egg yolks—but whatever their story, we’re just glad they exist.
While this famous Bordelais sweet was once fairly rare in Hong Kong—where it is also known as an “angel’s bell” due to its fluted shape—a growing number of cafés and bakeries in the city have started offering canelés, to our great pleasure. Although there are caterers and online bakeries selling canelés, we’re strictly focusing on physical locations for now—instant gratification, you know?
This Tai Hang bakery is run by husband-and-wife team Camille Moënne-Loccoz and Dominique Yau, who have over 30 years of experience as pastry chefs between them. The industrious duo makes everything from croissants to pains au chocolat, madeleines, cookies, danishes, financiers, and classic canelé ($35), which are just as good as any you would find in Paris. The perfectly crisp exterior houses a light centre that’s moist without being dense. A favourite for sure.
Plumcot, 10A Sun Chun Street, Tai Hang
This bakery concept from popular restaurant chain Classified debuted in Exchange Square last December to provide perfect on-the-go breakfasts and light lunches to the Central office crowd, but we reckon their canelés ($28) are the dark horse of the menu. Made according to a 70-year-old family recipe from head baker and Bordeaux native Julien Renaud, these caramel-crusted treats are perfectly browned on the outside and pudding-y on the inside.
Rise by Classified, Shop 313, 3/F, Exchange Square Podium, 8 Connaught Place, Central | (+852) 2147 3454
There are plenty of reasons to visit this Kwun Tong gem—to purchase furniture, take a woodworking class, or enjoy the drinks and foods at its instore café. By all accounts, Twenty One From Eight excels on all three fronts, with its handmade wooden furniture drawing as many visitors as its hybrid Tiramochi ($38). Don’t overlook the canelé ($35), which is heated upon order to ensure that it tastes as fresh as possible. The café’s been making these for a while, so they’ve had ample practice to perfect the dark, shiny caramel crust and tender interior—you won’t find any underbaked bottoms or dry crumbs here!
Twenty One From Eight, 11/F, 59 Hung To Road, Kwun Tong | (+852) 2321 1738
Just a few months in, this café-slash-bar has already proven to be hugely popular, thanks to its ample outdoor space, beautiful décor and views, and a well-executed menu of drinks and light bites. Their canelés ($32) are a huge hit, to the point where Barcode has even introduced a new coconut affogato, featuring a coconut ice cream in the shape of a canelé, along with a double shot of hot espresso. Although they are adequately browned, the canelés here do lean towards the sweeter side, so we like to pair it with an espresso ($28) to balance things out.
Barcode, Glenealy Tower, 1–3 Glenealy, Central | (+852) 6661 3161
This petite Kennedy Town shop has only been open for a few months, but it has already become very highly regarded for its buttery cinnamon rolls, cream horn-esque unicorn horns, and egg tarts. On weekends and public holidays, the Soft Thunder team also whips up limited batches of canelés ($35), but make sure you head there early as they run out fast! These beauties are perfectly crunchy without being overly hard and caramelised but not sickly sweet. If the weather’s nice, grab a bag of goodies and head to the waterfront to enjoy them with a cup of coffee from NOC.
Soft Thunder, Shop A, 29–31 North Street, Kennedy Town
Despite only occupying a petite kiosk on the lobby floor of an office building, Apostrophe Coffee manages to fit a lot of variety into its menu. Besides the extensive menu of coffees and teas and selection of brunch and lunch plates, Apostrophe also offers three flavours of its signature crunchy canelé ($38)—original, matcha, and Earl Grey. Happily, the canelé lives up to its name with a crust that’s adequately crisp without being too hard and stodgy to chew. Its slightly under-the-radar location also means that you can easily pass the full 90-minute seating without feeling hurried or worrying that you’re getting in the background of someone’s Instagram photoshoot.
Apostrophe Coffee, 3/F, Tower 535, 535 Jaffe Road, Causeway Bay | (+852) 3102 2001
Enjoy your sweet treat in a suitably
cosy ambience at Fonji (楓子珈琲), a vintage Japanese-inspired café in Prince Edward. With
an eclectic mix of vintage décor and maple leaf motifs bathed in a warm amber
glow, Fonji may be one of the most photogenic canelé-serving cafés around. The canelé
($38), which are baked fresh every day and are reportedly so popular that
they often sell out before 1 pm. If you do manage to get your hands on one,
however, we’d advise making the most of it by sinking into one of the
comfortable mid-century armchairs and sipping on their signature maple caffe
latte (starting from $40) out of a vintage jadeite cup.
Fonji (楓子珈琲), 5 Maple Street, Prince Edward | (+852) 2445 5441
This small minimalist coffee shop in Kennedy Town is all about the simple pleasures in life: a well-made cup of filter coffee (starting from $38), delivered quickly courtesy of the Moccamaster, a properly rich and fudgy double-baked chocolate cake ($62), and a beautifully baked canelé ($38). The canelés are so popular that you can even order boxes of them to enjoy in the comfort of your own home! For another dessert that Small Good does exceptionally well, try the fragrant Thai milk tea cheesecake ($58).
Small Good, 175 Belcher’s Street, Kennedy Town
Tucked away on a ladder street between Hollywood Road and Bridges Street, this pet-friendly café is a longstanding favourite in the neighbourhood for its relaxed and friendly ambience, often acting as something of a community gathering space. Though these guys have been around for a while, they continue to keep things fresh with new menu items, such as the canelés (starting from $38) which were introduced last year.
Coming in two sizes—normal and XL—these babies are parbaked and then returned to the oven just before serving, meaning that they’re always piping hot and lovely when you bite into them. Pair it with the refreshing coffee ice ball ($68), which will come with a carafe of milk, chocolate, or tonic water depending on whether you request a latte, mocha, or tonic.
Common Ground, 19 Shing Wong Street, Sheung Wan | (+852) 2818 8318