France has given us many wonders in the world of food, including pastries, cheese, and escargot. One other area that they’re known for is their desserts, creating some the most mouth-watering and delicious looking and tasting sweets you’ve ever laid your eyes on. We’ve counted down 22 French desserts that you have to know about (and maybe even attempt to make for yourself).
We count down some of the most delectable desserts that the French have to offer to inspire you to grow your culinary skills. When you think of French food, your mind probably goes towards decadent and rich flavors, and it would be right to.
The French have created some truly wondrous cuisines in their time, but none more exciting than their desserts. We’re here to show you 22 French desserts that you might know, and some that might surprise, to give you some inspiration in the kitchen.
Undoubtedly the most famous of all French desserts, the crepe is something that we have certainly embraced here at home. They’re light, thin, and delicious, making them the perfect base for running wild with your taste buds. Some sprinkle them with powdered sugar and strawberries, others smear them with Nutella. The opportunities are endless…and delicious.
Another popular French dessert that people might not realize come from this country. Profiteroles are little puffs of choux pastry that are filled with cream. To make them even better, warm chocolate sauce is usually poured over the top. These desserts are usually stacked up in a pile so it’s hard to stop yourself at just one.
#20: Tarte Tatin
This food was named after the hotel who first served it, but its fame has certainly outgrown it. Think of an upside down pastry that’s filled with fruit, but the fruit has been caramelized in sugar and butter. All of this is possible with the delicious tarte Tatin.
A baked dessert that originated in France, with their signature mix of pastry and fruit. The clafoutis is usually made with strawberries but can be substituted with other fruits if you wish. This is a flan-like dish that’s been baked in the oven and it uses rich, buttery batter to bring it all together into a sweet and fluffy treat.
The most popular type of éclair is a chocolate one, or ‘éclair au chocolat’ as the French would say. This long, oblong-shaped pastry is filled with whipped cream and then topped with the icing of your choice. Think of a profiterole but longer and skinnier, and you’ll have the éclair.
#17: Crème Brulee
If you’ve ever seen the French film Amelie, you’ll know just how satisfying these deserts can be. The crème Brulee cooks with a hard top that you can tap with your spoon to break before diving in to enjoy the exquisite flavors.
#16: Gateau Basque
Some might compare this to a vanilla slice, but it’s a far more sophisticated and delicious way to make it. The gateau Basque comes from the Basque region of France and it’s made with layers of plain cake with an almond or vanilla pastry cream. You can top it with cherries or leave it as is, and either way is divine.
#15: French Apple Pie
Sure, we make a mean apple pie here in the states, but some argue that the French version could be even better. The main difference is the topping of a French apple pie isn’t covered in pastry but rather has a crunchy top made from sliced apples and a sprinkling of powdered sugar. It gives a whole new touch to the dessert.
Another amazing dessert from the Bourges region of France is the Caneles. This dessert is a delicate little French pastry that’s been filled with both rum and vanilla. The mix of the flavors and the softness of the pastry makes it absolutely divine to taste, with the hint of rum giving it a beautiful richness.
#13: Bugnes Lyonnaise
Although the Bugnes technically began as a Dutch dessert, the French put their own delicious spin on things and we’re very glad that they did. This is a fried pastry that is covered with powdered sugar and absolutely addictive (but also no good for the waistline). They’re made in long, bite sized pieces which is why it’s terribly difficult to stop at just one.
#13: Bugnes Lyonnaise
This is a round pastry that looks sort of like a wheel but tastes a whole lot better. Paris-Brest is made of choux pastry (like all good French desserts should be) but has a delicious praline flavored cream through the middle. To make it even sweeter, it features flaked almonds and powdered sugar on top, just in case you needed any more incentive to eat it.
You can probably guess by the name of this one that it’s kind of like a pot of cream. The translation of this is ‘pot of custard’ and that’s exactly what’s on offer. Except it’s no ordinary custard, it’s French custard. The most popular type of pot de crème is chocolate, but you have the flexibility to explore other flavors too.
#10: Kouign Amann
If you love butter (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?) you’re going to love the kouign Amann dessert. This round, crusty Breton cake is kind of like a big plate of puff pastry. It’s been folded with layers of butter and sugar, so you pretty much get the gist of how delicious it can be. This is similar to the simplicity of a croissant which means you can get creative with toppings and spreads, and basically anything you put on it is going to taste good.
#9: Far Breton
Another cake from the Brittany region of France, which means that it’s bound to be delicious, is the Far Breton. This is somewhat similar to the clafoutis in that it uses the same batter but it has a few differences. With an egg and custard flan base, people often add raisins and prunes within to give it extra flavor.
#8: Gateau au yaourt
If you’re a fan of yogurt then you’re going to love this French dessert, and even if you’re not a fan we think you’ll love it anyway. Gateau au yaourt is a yogurt based cake that’s incredibly easy to make, and even easier to chow down on. It’s soft, spongy, and melts in your mouth. Delicious.
#7: Tarte tropezienne
Also referred to as the “La Tarte de Saint Tropez”, this amazing dessert was created by a patisserie owner who lived in Saint Tropez, hence the name. Think of a giant brioche bun filled with creamy custard, and you get what this scrumptious tarte is all about. Like a massive cream puff but only better.
#6: Ile flottante
The ‘floating island’ dessert is a popular choice in France and something that’s regarded as a classic. Word has it that French grandmothers make this for their grandkids, and we think they’re pretty lucky! Ile flottante is a meringue that floats atop a crème anglaise lake, so it tastes just as good as you imagine.
This is one of the more common French desserts and one that has unlimited potential depending on how you want to eat it. A meringue is made with sugar and egg whites with the result being a light, sweet and crunchy little dessert. People top these with fresh fruit and whipped cream, but they’re good enough to eat on their own.
This is a dessert that looks so good you won’t even want to eat it. The Mont-Blanc is a rich and satisfying dessert that features pureed chestnuts and whipped cream. It got its name from the snow-capped mountains at Mont-Blanc, and we think it was the perfect fit for this gorgeous dessert.
#3: Chocolat Mousse
Yes, the French invented chocolate mousse as well! Is there anything they can’t do? A dessert that needs no explanation as you’ve probably already tasted it. Sweet, light, creamy, and the perfect way to end an amazing dinner, chocolate mousse will always be a favorite. Most people top theirs with extra whipped cream just to make it even better, and we suggest you follow suit.
One of the best French desserts to ever be made was the madeleine or petite madeleine, and this French cake holds a place in so many of our hearts (and bellies). A scallop shaped cake that many people think of as a cookie, these will never go out of style.
What better way to end our list than with one of the most famous French desserts of all? The Macaron is a sweet, colorful little meringue-based confection that’s become bigger than crepes. Made with ground almonds and sugar, they’re not too intense in flavor but very bold in looks with bright colors like pink, blue, and green common in their design.