Home Desserts 25 Classic French Desserts

25 Classic French Desserts

by insanelygood

You need not pack up and visit Paris just to get a taste of mouthwatering French desserts.

From fruit-filled galettes to crisp French toast, to sugary, deep-fried beignets, I have you covered when it comes to pleasing your sweet tooth!

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Creme brulee

France is famous for a lot of fancy things like fashion, wine, cars, and of course, Paris!

But let’s not forget that this country is also home to delightful desserts renowned internationally.

Even though French desserts look like a living daydream, they’re pretty easy to make.

Ready to bring the feel of a French cafe to your home? Let’s dig in! 

1. Creme Brulee

Creme Brulee is a baked custard topped with a melted sugar crust. With a velvety and pudding-like texture, this burnt cream dessert is so dreamy!

This recipe is a family favorite because it’s simple but a real luxury. For the custard, you only need the basics — eggs, heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla.

Dressing up the creme brulee is the fun part. You can include caramel to its bottom part or create a flavored burnt creme by adding bright lemon zest. 

2. Palmier Cookies

Palmier means “palm leaves” in French. So, it isn’t surprising that these cookies are in a palm leaf shape.

They are made from puff pastry and perfect when buttery, sweet, and crisp. 

Palmiers are like croissants, only flakier, with just three simple ingredients! This recipe is my go-to when in need of a crunchy dessert that doubles as a beautiful display. 

These cookies are also called “French hearts.” They bring an air of class to any table.

3. Financiers

Financiers are one of the staples of fine pastry in France. For an exquisite and impressive dessert, these mini-almond cakes won’t disappoint!

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This dish dates back to the 19th century, initially made by nuns in the middle ages.

History also has it that these gold bar-shaped tea cakes were sold near the Paris stock exchange.

Financiers have the texture of a sponge cake, but with a hint of almond and caramelized butter.

Light, dainty, and neat to eat, these cakes are an excellent pair for your afternoon tea. 

Add a dollop of whip cream to make the cakes more appealing to kids!

4. Apple Cranberry Galette 

Another French cake is here to fulfill your sweet cravings. This time, it’s flat and round, with slices of apples and cranberries peeking through the crust.

Apple cranberry galette is an upgraded version of apple pie. It has a flaky, buttery crust with tender-baked apples infused with the tart flavor of cranberries.

With this recipe, you’ll have a beautiful, fruit-filled pastry in two hours.

5. French Fig Tart

The verdant fig and sweet almond meet in this tasty pastry. It’s a fantastic dessert for summer and autumnal dinner parties. 

If you only use figs for regular or fruit salads, now is the time to put them into much greater use.

Ripe figs are ideal for this recipe, as they bring just the right level of sweetness.

With a baking time of only 40 minutes, French fig tart ingredients come together so quickly. 

The result is appetizing pastries with crisp edges and a soft interior topped with fresh fruits. 

6. Parisian Flan

Live the Parisian life, even just for a moment, with this classic French custard pie. It’s a thick custard tart that you’ll find in any pâtisserie. 

Parisian flan is a creamy vanilla custard baked into a flaky tart shell. It has a burnt top that adds unique flavors to the flan.

This make-ahead dessert is also a wonderful afternoon snack. Eat it with your hands just like what true Parisians do!

7. Ina Garten’s French Chocolate Bark  

This recipe is based on Ina Garten’s book, Barefoot Contessa, which features fantastic flavors from simple ingredients.

There’s no baking required. Plus, you’ll only need eight minutes for this last-minute dessert!

Chocolate bark is a sheet of chocolate covered with candies, dried fruits, and nuts. The steps for making this festive dessert aren’t set in stone.

Place the toppings in any way you like and cut the chocolate pieces into various sizes.

8. Pears Belle Helene

Here’s one of the French desserts you can’t say ‘non’ to.

Pears Belle Helene is an elegant dessert made from pears poached in sugar with chocolate sauce on top and vanilla ice cream on the side. Wow!

Light and not too sweet, it’s the perfect dessert to finish any meal. It’s also easy to make, especially if you already have a pre-made chocolate sauce on hand.

9. Crepes

Crepes are a crowd-favorite not just in France, but in other countries, too! The reason? They’re a versatile dessert that calls for simple ingredients.

Every year on February 2, there’s a celebration called the Day of the Crêpe. On this day, almost all French families make time to eat crepes.

These thin French pancakes can be served with just about any filling.

From fresh berries to whipped cream to Nutella, you can make endless varieties of sweet dessert crepes.

10. Cherry Clafoutis

Custardy and super-creamy, cherry clafoutis is almost like the child of flan and cake, if that’s even possible!

This dessert originated from the Limousin region and is traditionally made using sour morello cherries and local griottes.

The name “clafoutis” came from the Occitan dialect, which means to cover or fill. Indeed, this dish does a pretty great job filling our stomachs with juicy fruit batter.

11. Madeleines

French madeleines are shell-shaped cookies that taste like cake! Just sprinkle them with confectioner’s sugar on top to achieve the original taste.

You can also upgrade this dessert by adding in a flavored glaze. Still, a nice dunk in dark chocolate is my favorite!

12. French Chocolate Truffles

With only four ingredients — heavy cream, finely chopped chocolates, vanilla extract, and cocoa powder, you’ll have bite-sized chocolate balls bursting with oaky, nutty, and sweet flavors.  

Truffles are often coated with cocoa powder, but feel free to use other toppings like crunched almonds, coconut flakes, and chocolate sprinkles. 

13. French Lemon Tart

A home that’s filled with the aroma of sharp, zesty lemon filling — that’s what you’ll get and more with this lemon tart recipe.

This luscious dessert looks unassuming, but every bite is a crusty and creamy delight.

It’s a tangy dessert you’ll want to try when taking a break from chocolatey goodness.

14. Cream Puffs

Every day could be a cream puff day if you learn this recipe! Interestingly, there’s a National Cream Puff Day that goes on every January 2nd.

Authentic cream puffs are made from French choux pastry — a delicate pastry dough made from pantry staples like butter, flour, eggs, and water. 

Of course, cream puffs won’t be complete without delicious fillings. Some great options include chocolate cream, vanilla pudding, and savory cream cheese.

NOTE: Don’t let your dough become too wet or runny to avoid a deflated puff! 

15. Creme au Caramel

There are no garnishes needed. Just set out your most beautiful plate for this lovely dessert, creme au caramel.

This sweet dish features a custard base with a soft, caramelized top.

Once baked, it is served upside down to expose its signature caramel syrup until it turns into a pool of tasty, dark, orange confectionery.      

Creme caramel is also a great make-ahead recipe that you can create one day in advance.

Serve it at dinner parties to impress the guests, or keep it in your personal sweet stash.

I won’t tell the others, I promise!

16. Caneles

Dark rum and off-white vanilla are the stars of this caneles recipe. Originating from Bordeaux, this cork-shaped pastry has a caramelized crust with a moist and custardy interior.

Caneles are best enjoyed when fresh, so it’s something that you should do at home. Also, you’ll be hard-pressed to find these goodies in American bakeries.

For excellent results, ensure that you’ll put in extra patience and perseverance, as caneles are quite challenging to make. 

When you get the right mix of aromatic rum, burnt sugar, and vanilla, you’re sure to fall in love with this sweet treat!

17. French Toast

If you want dessert for breakfast, I’ve got you. French toast is a pan-fried dish dunked in a mixture of eggs and milk.

Top it with powdered sugar, fresh fruits, coconut sprinkles, or maple syrup, and you’re in for a sweet treat!

You can use any type of bread — white, cinnamon-raisin, or whole wheat.

But of course, Brioche, Challah, and French Baguette are the most classic choices for an authentic French toast. 

18. Beignets

Beignets are deep-fried pastry dough that resembles donuts, so don’t be surprised when they taste like donuts! 

Are there any differences between the two? Oui, oui. First is the texture. Both are fried, but beignets are lighter and more pillowy. 

They also differ in presentation, as traditional donuts are round-shaped with a hole at the center.

Beignets, on the other hand, are cut into tiny squares, so they’re easy to pick up and eat in one bite.

19. French 75 Champagne Cocktail

Champagne cocktails have a reputation for being a ladies’ drink, but not the French 75. It’s one of those cocktails that isn’t for the light-hearted. 

This drink recipe contains a mix of gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and of course, champagne.  

Wondering why it’s called French 75? The drink is named after the field gun used by French and Americans in World War I, the 75mm Howitzer.

They say that the cocktail drink has a unique kick that’s comparable to being hit by such an accurate weapon.

20. Meringue Kisses

Meringue kisses are nothing short of magic. They’re sweet, with a melt-in-your-mouth texture, thanks to the marshmallow-like inside.

Okay, this dessert could be far from your first kiss, but it’s memorable.

You only need two ingredients (egg whites and refined sugar). You’ll need three if you want to add food coloring.

Make them your go-to festive dessert by coloring them green and red for Christmas or pink and yellow for Easter.

21. Cafe Liegeois

With 10 minutes of prep time that yields four servings, this is the recipe you’ll need if you’re running late for dessert making.

Cafe Liegeois is a grown-up version of a typical sundae. It’s made from iced coffee, ice cream, and whipped cream.

Because it’s basically a coffee with ice cream, you need the best espresso for a satisfying result.  

If you want to make a variation for the kids, just replace the coffee with chocolate sauce.

22. Flaugnarde 

Flaugnarde is a variant of the fruit-filled clafoutis made with Limousin black cherries, apples, and pears.

You can also add some prunes and plums or other fruits, whatever you love!

Flaugnarde also looks like a large pancake dusted with confectioner’s sugar, only tastier because of its combined tropical flavors.  

23. Kir Royale  

Kir Royale is a French cocktail that combines champagne and creme de cassis (black currant liqueur). It’s the perfect drink to kick off a late-night dinner party.

The black currant works its magic by adding a fruity depth to the cocktail through its delicious berry flavor.

The best part? It’s a fool-proof recipe! Just place the creme de cassis at the bottom of the flute, top with champagne, and voila!

You can raise your glass and have a toast.    

24. Palets de Dames

Palets de Dames is a specialty of northern France and is easy to spot on French bakeries.

Similar to madeleines, they have a cake-like texture, even though they’re cookies!

These sweet, little buttery baked goods are often topped with a sugar glaze.

If you want to take it up a notch, cover them with apricot jam or throw some rum or aniseed into the mix. 

25. Yogurt Cake 

Looking for a cake recipe that doesn’t require a hand mixer? This is it! 

Besides the easy baking steps, you’ll want to use this recipe again and again for a heavenly and nutritious yogurt cake!

Oddly, you have to use Greek-yogurt for this French recipe. Nevertheless, you’ll have a lightly crumbed and wonderfully moist cake loved by most French children.

Feel free to add your own twist by including lemon zest, vanilla extract, or mini-chocolate chips into the batter.

25 Classic French Desserts

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French Desserts

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