Zut Alor’s! If there’s one thing the French are famous for, it’s cooking. So It stands to reason that their desserts are going to be something to write home about. And the best bit? Our list of 26 French desserts is pretty easy to make… There’s even the odd ‘grown up’ treat in there. After all, what would France be without the odd touch of alcohol? Let’s dive right in.
1. Crème Brulee
Is there any nicer feeling in the world than cracking the top of a delicious crème Brulee? Sumptuous and creamy vanilla custard set to perfection and topped with a crisp and crackly caramelized sugar crust? Making real custard might take a little bit of a toll on your egg supply. The key to getting it set is to use a bain-marie. You submerge your ramekins in hot water before baking in the oven. This stops the custard from cooking too quickly and splitting. We like to sprinkle the top of each Crème Brulee with brown sugar before giving it a blast with a small kitchen blowtorch. However, this isn’t essential. A hot broiler will work just as well to caramelize the tops!
Financiers get their name from where they were sold in Paris, near the stock exchange! With any luck, the sellers charged a premium. They are designed to look like gold bars, after all! The taste is certainly worth its weight in gold. These light sponge cakes taste like a mixture of browned butter with the sweetness of almonds. The key to these cakes is not to overbake them. You want them ever so slightly moist. They make the perfect accompaniment for a cup of coffee or tea!
3. French Fig Tart
Figs have been used in desserts for hundreds of years. And while they are delicious, it can sometimes be tricky to know how to use them. When figs are baked, they turn a little sticky, and they are really sweet, perfect for jazzing up a tart. When this is combined with smooth and sweet almond cream, you’ve got a perfect combination. To make this authentic, we recommend using fresh vanilla pods too… you won’t find vanilla essence in a French kitchen!
4. French Chocolate Bark
This French chocolate bark recipe reminds me a little of a chocolate rocky road cake without the cake. It’s super easy to make and is a no-bake recipe. It’ll take you a little under 10 minutes. It’s essentially a sheet of chocolate topped with lots of sweet treats. You can use candy, fruit, or whatever takes your fancy!
Crepes are prevalent throughout Europe (unless your British… And then you say ‘pancakes’). The best thing about crepes is that they can be topped with a whole variety of different sauces or fillings. Go sweet with Crepe Suzette, or switch to something slightly more savory with sweetened cream cheese. For a true European vibe to your crepes, smother them with Nutella and maybe a few slices of chopped banana.
Madeleines always remind me of sitting in a square in Paris. A few of these delicious little shells topped with sugar while people watching and drinking coffee. They are pretty light and make a nice midday sweet treat. They are like a cross between a cookie and a donut. You can also make them a little fancier by dipping them in chocolate. To get that unique shell shape, you’ll need a madeleine mold, but standard round ones taste just as good if you don’t have one.
7. French Lemon Tart
I love a strong coffee with something that refreshes my palette. The French seem to be good at both. A French lemon tart is citrusy, zesty, and really tasty. It isn’t too heavy either. The key to making this recipe stand out is by using quality lemon curd. You can invest in a prebought shop version or even consider making your own. It lasts forever and is a great accompaniment to all sorts of dishes.
8. Crème au Caramel
A little wobbly, a little bit tasty, and a lot of fun? Sounds like my kind of dessert. This is like a softer version of crème Brulee, as the elements are similar. A set custard, cooked in a bain-marie, topped with a layer of caramel. The only difference is that this is saucy instead of crisp. You can choose to make one giant crème au caramel or alternatively divide your custard mix between smaller ramekins to serve individual guests.
9. French Toast
Ah, I absolutely love French toast. It’s like a cross between a pancake, an omelet, and regular fried bread. Just as with pancakes, this dessert is really versatile. You can choose to top it with simple powder sugar or work your way up to something incredibly sweet. We love adding baileys to our French toast dip. Alternatively, serve it with whipped cream and lashings of maple syrup.
10. French 75 Cocktail
Alcohol for dessert? Why not? It’s a weekend! This cocktail was created in World War I and is named after 75mm guns used. One thing is for sure, too many of these, and you’ll be under fire! It’s pretty strong stuff with a heady mix of champagne, gin, and lemon juice. As an after-dinner nightcap, it is sublime. You might as well finish the bottle? It would be a shame to let good champagne go flat!
11. Café Liegeois
The French love a good strong coffee, and they also love dessert. Why not combine the two together? This is like an iced coffee float. We like to mix up the flavors and tastes by using both vanilla and coffee ice cream, but one or the other on its own will work equally as well. If you are pushed for time or have a surprise dinner party, this is really easy to whip up in a couple of minutes and will leave your guests wowed (and awake).
12. Kir Royale
Another naughty one here. The taste of sweet berries, blended with crisp bubbly champagne, what’s not to love? This is super easy to make. Just pour some black currant liqueur into a champagne flute and top up with fizz. If you don’t have champagne, prosecco will work just as well (just make sure not to tell your guests, especially if they are French). We like to finish our kir royale with a frozen blackberry.
13. Yogurt Cake
Yogurt and dairy feature on French dinner tables every day, so it would be odd not to include at least one recipe that includes it. The yogurt tastes really great, especially when topped with fresh fruit. It also serves to keep this cake really moist. You can pimp it up a bit by adding shards of chocolate, nuts, or even small pieces of candy.
14. Palets de Dames
This dessert is part cake and part cookie. Whatever, we think they are amazing. You’ll find layers of these lovingly arranged in corner bakeries all over France. The best thing is that they use only 5 different ingredients. There’s a fair amount of butter, but very little sugar, so they aren’t all bad. The cookies are traditionally dotted with currants, but any dried fruit works well.
Hard to pronounce? Not really, repeat after me…. Flow-egg-nardeh. Simple right? Flaugnarde is a sort of fruit-filled pancake. Except you don’t cook it in a pan, you bake it! Our favorite filling is a layer of strawberries. As they bake, they caramelize and turn ever so slightly gooey. This soaks into the batter, giving you little pink mouthfuls that taste sublime. It works so well with a scoop of cool dairy vanilla ice cream.
Meringues are a true Parisian confectioner’s dessert. They can be a little tricky to get right. It’s essentially egg foam, laced with sugar, and baked until the outside goes crispy. The perfect meringue should be chewy in the middle. The key to meringue is not to overbake it. Brown meringue? No thanks. Make sure it doesn’t turn powdery either!
Imagine a cross between a profiterole and a donut. The result won’t be too far from beignets. These little pillows are like a donut. They are deep-fried, so they turn golden brown on the outside. The difference is that, because of the batter, they are a little lighter. The ideal way to serve these is to cut them into bite-sized cubes.
Is there a better pairing than rum, brown sugar, and vanilla? These tasty little cakes might be a little grown-up and aren’t amazingly easy to make. But get them right, and they’ll become a firm favorite. They originate in southern France. If you cook them right, you end up with a slightly crisp crust that gives way to a soft custard center.
19. Chocolate Croissants
No French dessert list would be complete without croissants. While traditionally eaten at breakfast, they also make for a wonderful dessert. You can either split croissants and insert chunks of chocolate before baking in the oven or alternatively create a hot chocolate dipping sauce to be served alongside.
20. Cream Puffs
Choux pastry is tricky to get right, but once you know how you’ll be able to make all sorts of desserts, eclairs, profiteroles, and of course… Cream puffs! They are really versatile as you can fill them with whatever you like. Add some melted chocolate to your cream, make a simple custard, or even add cream cheese for something more savory.
21. French Chocolate Truffles
Want a no-bake dessert that is super sweet and easy to make? Look no further. Chocolate truffles need only 4 ingredients and can be made in a matter of minutes. Don’t be put off by the fact that they are small. We challenge you to try and eat more than three! We find that rolling the truffles in cocoa powder is the ideal way to serve. They are slightly bitter on the outside, which works well against the sweet chocolate interior.
22. Cherry Clafoutis
It might sound a little Greek, but we assure you that this is a French dessert! As long as you’ve got cherries, you should be able to find the rest of the ingredients around the house. The key to this recipe is mixing by hand. Electric mixers will cause the batter to be flat and lifeless. Oh, and don’t overbake it either. A little wobble in the middle is perfect.
23. Pears Belle Helene
This is a dinner party favorite if you want to wow your guests. Belle Helene actually means ‘beautiful light’, and this french dessert does look a little like a lightbulb. It is a poached pear covered with a thick drizzle of chocolate sauce, served alongside ice cream. The hardest part might be making the chocolate sauce!
24. Parisian Flan
Have you noticed something on our list of 26 French desserts? There’s quite a bit of custard. So it makes sense that a dish coming from the capital of France has the most! This is a simple flan that you’ll find pretty much anywhere in Paris. It is a buttery, biscuity base filled with a thick layer of custard. Baked until the top turns a little brown and bubbly.
25. Apple Galette
This apple cake is a cross between a cake and an apple pie. If you like, you can add a few cranberries to give a dash of color. While a little bitter, when you bake cranberries, they break down and turn very mushy and sweet. The pastry is a little short and flaky and woks perfectly when topped with thick and crunchy sugar granules.
26. Palmier Cookies
These cookies are designed to look like little leaves. They are pretty easy to make, and the cheats version relies on only three simple ingredients. Those being premade puff pastry, butter, and a fair helping of sugar. They are crispy, sweet, and flaky, don’t eat if you want to keep your clothes flake-free!
So there we have it, our list of 26 French desserts. The themes seem to be a lot of custard, sugar, and butter in huge quantities. Hey, we never said eating French was healthy! Can you think of any more that need to go on our list? Let us know in the comments!