The French are famous for their decadent pastries and delightful dessert creations – from sinful chocolate croissants to delicately layered mille-feuille, fudge-like Calissons, dainty little French macarons that come in an array of colors and flavors, there are so many desserts you must try when visiting France. Grab some of these easy French pastry recipes to make your own version! Let’s travel through our tastebuds to France!
We are not serious pastry chefs, but we do love our desserts & pastries and sometimes like to try our hand at making them! Here are a few of our favorite French Pasteries and some easy recipes to try at home.
See 11 Best wine Regions in France. The last one will surprise you!
Supplies you will need for making French Pastries
Other than unbleached all-purpose flour, sugar, yeast, eggs, almond flour, you will need to assemble some basic tools before you start making these French Pastries.
- Measuring Cups
- Madeleine molds
- KitchenAid Stand Mixer
- Rolling Pin
- Pizza Cutter
- Pastry Brush
- A good Baking Mat like Silpat
- Baking Sheet
- Piping bags
Good quality chocolate makes all the difference when baking desserts. I love to use Ghirardelli’s baking bars, especially when making chocolate croissants. Once you learn to make some chocolate pastry cream, you can use it for cream puffs, eclairs, or for a chocolate tart filling.
1. Chou à la Crème
Chou à la crème is a filled French choux pastry ball with a typically sweet and moist filling of whipped cream, custard, pastry cream aka Crème Chantilly or sometimes even icecream. You can find many versions of these cream puffs. I recently had some La Tarte Tropézienne, a French bakery that was founded in Saint-Tropez and has made its way to Texas! Called Tarte tropézienne, these cream pies are made with a brioche-style dough and a light as air cream filling.
Profiteroles are another favorite Choux pastry I love. You can usually find them frozen. It is filled with ice cream and topped with chocolate ganache.
See a recipe for Choux Pastry here
2. Orange & Cardamom Madeleines
These shell-shaped, cake-like cookies are typically served with tea. The buttery madeleines are usually spiced with ground cardamom and coated with a sweet citrus icing. They are not super sweet which is another reason why this is one of our favorite French Pastries!
See this recipe from Delish and you can make them at home.
3. French Macarons
Attending a baking class to master the skill of creating perfect macarons is high on my to-do list when we go to Paris next time. I have tried making these dainty French Pastries a few times but I prefer just buying them from the store. Laduree and Pierre Herme are the most luxurious and well-known brands, but you can pretty much find them in any French patisserie. They come in so many flavors but I’m partial to pistachio!
One of our favorite travel memory is enjoying these pretty french pastries at the cutest Laduree outpost in Monaco.
See this basic french macaron recipe which is perfect for beginners
4. Éclair – The Best French Pastry
Eclair is the quintessential Frenc pastry! The icing looks so firm on the top and starts melting in your mouth once you take that first bite. While most favor Chocolate Eclairs, I usually look for fruity versions.
I loved these Blueberry Violet Eclairs which are bursting with blueberry and floral flavor notes. Get the recipe from Sift & Whisk
Soufflés are so elegant just like the French! Crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside, a soufflé can be filled with many different and making this french dessert is actually a simple process. Once you have mastered it, you can make different versions including savory ones.
6. Grand Cru
The French dessert consists of numerous layers of chocolate, chocolate biscuit, and a thin layer of praline. A Chocolate lover’s dream!
7. Pâte Sucrée or French Tarts
The Tart Crust or Pâte Sucrée in French is a sweet and buttery crust with a texture resembles that of a crumbly cookie. Unlike the more flaky pie crust, a tart crust is easier to make. Once you have them you can assemble the tarts with different fruits and fillings. I especially love French fruit tart pastries. They are delicious with a sweet pastry crust, and an easy fruit tart glaze. It is a showstopper dessert that is perfect for Spring & Summer!
Get the French Fruit Tart Recipe from House of Nash
8. Crepe, The French Pastry I have managed to master
This is one French pastry that I have mastered! If you can make pancakes or waffles, you can make these french pastries that you will find everywhere in France. Crepes oozing with Nutella with powdered sugar and strawberries are our house favorite. Wrapped into a cone, they are perfect for when you are on the go!
My super EASY Crepe Recipe
I mix 1/2 a cup of unbleached flour with 1/2 cup of milk, 1 teaspoon of sugar, I egg, a dash of vanilla essence to make the dough. Ladle a spoon full onto a heated pan to make the rounds. Add your favorite fillings like Nutella and strawberries or peanut butter and bananas, or some good quality fruit preserves.
Crêpes Suzette is a boozy version of this French dessert and consists of crêpes with beurre Suzette, a sauce of caramelized sugar and butter, tangerine or orange juice, zest, and Grand Marnier, triple sec or orange Curaçao liqueur on top. Usually prepared in a tableside performance, flambé. It is a production and fun to watch them being made!
9. Chocolate Croissants (Pain au Chocolat)
Nothing screams French like some buttery croissants! A warm chocolate croissant with its thin crispy layers hiding some melted chocolate and a dusting of sugar on top, sublime! Transports you to the streets of Paris in a jiffy!
See the recipe here or buy them frozen from Trader Joe’s and bake them! Trust me they come out really good and you would have saved 2 hours!
10. Crème Caramel & Crème Brûlée
Crème Caramel and Crème Brûlée are in fact two different French pastries! Creme Caramel is a french dessert that is almost like a milky pudding but it comes generously covered with gooey caramel sauce on top. Crème Brûlée, on the other hand, is a decadent French dessert that has a layer of hard caramel on top. The custard base for both is usually flavored with vanilla and served with fruit.
To make a good Crème Brûlée, aka burned cream, you will need a butane torch since the sugar is sprinkled onto the custard, then caramelized with the butane torch making it warm on the top. This is one of my favorite French desserts. I do like the Spanish version Crema Catalan as well!
11. Tarte Tatin or French Apple Tart
The French version of an apple pie is an apple tart! It is baked pastry side up and flipped back before serving so that the delicious brown sugar and butter covered the apples in a caramel crust. Try it with some ice cream.
Get the recipe from Alexandra’s Kitchen.
Calissons are a traditional French dessert consisting of a smooth, pale yellow paste of candied fruit, mainly melons and oranges along with ground almonds topped with a thin layer of icing. Calissons have a texture similar to that of marzipan, but fruitier. Calissons are often almond-shaped, has a fudge-like texture, and are typically about two inches in length. Calissons are traditionally associated with the town of Aix-en-Provence, France, but you can find them in the Provence region.
I bought a few boxes to bring home as gifts but promptly polished them off before we left Provence!
I have never attempted to make Calissons at home but you can find a recipe here
13. Opera Cake
Served in small rectangle bars, it’s a fantastic treat consisting of few layers of cake, well-soaked in coffee syrup and layers of chocolate paste plus coffee buttercream. It is divine, don’t miss it! Opera Cake was created in 1955 at Dalloyau patisserie in Paris and named after a dancer from the Opera House, who came to the shop regularly and appealed to the wife of the owner to make these french delicacies.
Unfortunately no recipe for this one. If you know how to make them, let me know.
You probably have seen and even tried this pastry more commonly known as Napoleon. With layers of buttery pastry and pastry cream and icing on top with a chocolate leafy design, it is an amazing French pastry. Also known as Mille Feuille which means a thousand leaves this dessert has layers of flaky French pastry and perfect vanilla pastry cream.
If you have a package of puff pastry and some vanilla cream, you can easily put this French Pastry together. See recipe here
This was our dessert tray when we had a leisurely lunch in Antibes. It features all the french pastries – Opera Cake, Eclair, some cream puffs, tarts and a Napoleon cake! All with some gold foil on top 😉
15. Marie Antoinette
This popular French dessert is made of two pink macaron shelves with fresh raspberries and vanilla (or if you are lucky. rose cream) sandwiched in between. Too rich but oh so French!
If you want to try smaller versions of some of these French Pastries, you can ask for Petitis Four which is basically a collection of various small cakes and usually served after a meal. Perfect if you have a sweet-toothed like us!
What are some of the desserts you have enjoyed during your travels? We are always on the lookout for the best desserts whether at home in Dallas or when we travel. Some of our favorites have been Sacher Torte in Vienna, Polenta e Osei in Bergamo, soft and chewy mochi in Japan, Crema Catalana, a Spanish version of Creme Brûlée in Barcelona…. to name a few.
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