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8 Most Popular and Savory French Desserts to Make at Home

8 Most Popular French Desserts to Make at Home
The French have a way with butter ... and cream ... and chocolate ... and basically all the yummy things that we are not supposed to have. But if you're planning to indulge in these classic French desserts, you need to do it the right way. Tastessence directs you with some easy dessert recipes à la French style.
Payal Kanjwani
Last Updated: Jul 21, 2017
Delicious Accident!
The oh-so-famous Tarte Tatin was created by accident at the Hotel Tatin. The baker tried to bake an apple pie, and left them caramelizing in the sugar mixture for too long. When it started to burn, she quickly stuck the caramelized apples at the bottom and threw some pastry on top, and thus was born an instant hit. The guests at the hotel loved the surprise dessert, and it became the signature dessert of that hotel.
Cooking in France is an art form. They believe that a dish has to not just be eaten, but savored too. French desserts have an elegance of their own. These, generally, are light and fluffy, including pastries and layered cakes like mille-feuilles and dacquoise, rich and creamy custards like crème brûlée (ooh la la!), but are long and not so easy to make (no secret!).

With a culinary history influencing much of the world's cuisine, the French have created many renowned sweet treats. Ranging from simple tarts to complicated confections, French desserts are something to be absorbed slowly. We guide you with a few simple recipes. If you are planning to visit France, this should give you a good idea of what to look for in restaurants and pastry shops. Wear your chef's apron on, and get started.
Choux Pastry
This is a simple and airy pastry made with flour, butter, eggs, and water. Of course it is baked, but mostly first cooked on stove. It is used to make profiteroles, eclairs, crullers, and many more French desserts. We have given the recipes for profiteroles and éclairs.
Choux pastry

♨ Eggs, 4
♨ Butter, ½ cup
♨ All-purpose flour, 1 cup
♨ Heavy cream, 1 cup
♨ Confectioners' sugar, ¼ cup
♨ Rose water, 1 tsp. (optional)
♨ Semisweet chocolate, 9 oz. (chopped)
♨ Water, 1 cup
♨ Salt, ¼ tsp.

● Preparation Time: 40 minutes
● Cooking Time: 30 minutes
● Serves: 8

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan. Add butter and salt, and stir until the butter has melted.
3. Take it off from heat. Stir in the flour until no dry lumps remain.
4. Add eggs, one at a time; the next egg is to be added only after the last one has been completely incorporated into the mixture. Pour the profiterole paste onto the prepared baking sheet in evenly spaced dollops.
5. Bake in the preheated oven until the pastries have puffed up and turned golden brown for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack to room temperature.
6. Beat 1 cup of heavy cream to soft peaks; stir in the confectioners' sugar and rosewater until the sugar has dissolved.
7. Bring the remaining cup of heavy cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat, and stir in the chocolate until melted and smooth.
8. Poke a hole into the bottom of each pastry, and fill with the rose water cream. Place the filled profiteroles onto individual serving plates, and top with the warm sauce.

Tip: Leftover profiteroles may be stored sealed in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Eclairs layer

♨ All-purpose flour, 1 cup
♨ Butter, ½ cup
♨ Eggs, 4
♨ Package of instant vanilla pudding mix, 5 oz.
♨ Milk, 2½ cups (cold)
♨ Heavy cream, 1 cup
♨ Confectioners' sugar, ¼ cup
♨ Vanilla extract, 2 tsp.
♨ 2 squares semisweet chocolate, 1 oz.
♨ Butter, 2 tbsp.
♨ Salt, ¼ tsp.
♨ Water, 1 cup
♨ Hot water, 3 tbsp.

● Preparation Time: 80 minutes
● Cooking Time: 20 minutes
● Serves: 12

1. Preheat an oven to 450°F (230°C). Grease a cookie sheet.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine half cup butter and one cup water. Bring to a boil. Keep stirring until the butter melts completely. Lower the heat, and add flour and salt. Stir vigorously until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan and begins to form a stiff ball. Remove from heat. Add well-beaten eggs, one at a time. With a spoon or a pastry bag fitted with a No. 10, or larger, tip, spoon or pipe dough onto a cookie sheet in 1½ x 4 inch strips.
3. Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven, and then reduce heat to 325°F (165°C) and bake for 20 minutes more, until hollow sounding when lightly tapped on the bottom. Cool completely on a wire rack.
4. For the filling, combine pudding mix and milk in medium bowl according to the package directions. In a separate bowl, beat the cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Beat in ¼cup confectioners' sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla. Fold whipped cream into the pudding. Cut tops off of cooled pastry shells with a sharp knife. Fill shells with the pudding mixture and replace tops.
5. For the icing, melt the chocolate and 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir in 1 cup confectioners' sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in hot water, one tablespoon at a time, until the icing is smooth and has reached the desired consistency. Remove from heat, cool slightly, and drizzle over the filled eclairs. Refrigerate until serving.

Tip: If you like it, you can serve eclairs with strawberries on top.
Creme Brulee
Creme brulee is a custard topped with a hard crust of sugar glaze, an anchor in Hollywood depictions of gourmet cuisine. It is finished with a sprinkle of sugar, which is mostly (and carefully) browned with the flame of a creme brulee torch.
Creme brulee

♨ Egg yolks, 6
♨ Heavy cream, 2½ cups
♨ White sugar, 6 tbsp. (divided)
♨ Brown sugar, 2 tbsp.
♨ Vanilla extract, ½ tsp.

● Preparation Time: 15 minutes
● Cooking Time: 35 minutes
● Serves: 5

1. Preheat an oven to 300°F (150°C).
2. Beat egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Add 4 tablespoons of sugar and vanilla, and stir until it gets creamy.
3. Take a saucepan, and pour cream into it. Stir over low heat until it almost comes to a boil. Remove the cream from heat immediately. Stir cream into the egg yolk mixture; beat until combined.
4. Pour the cream mixture into the top of a double boiler. Stir for around 3 minutes, over simmering water until the mixture lightly coats the back of a spoon. Remove this mixture from heat immediately, and pour into a shallow heat-proof dish.
5. Bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight.
6. Preheat the oven to bake.
7. Now take a small bowl, and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of white sugar and brown sugar. Sift this mixture evenly over custard. Place the dish under broiler until sugar melts, not exceeding 2 minutes, else it will give a burnt taste.
8. Take it off from the oven and let it cool. Refrigerate until the custard is set again. You can sprinkle the top with sugar. Before serving, don't forget to brown it with a torch.

Tip: If you don't have a creme brulee torch, you can caramelize the dish under the grill.
Crepes Suzette
Crepes are often served as part of a traditional celebration, in the French version of Candlemas. Crepes suzette is the most famous one here.
Crepes suzette

♨ Granulated sugar, 3 tbsp.
♨ Orange flavored liqueur, 3 tbsp.
♨ Unsalted butter, 2 tbsp.
♨ Orange juice, ⅓ cup
♨ Grated orange rind, 2 tsp.

For Crepes

♨ All-purpose flour, ½ cup
♨ Eggs, 2
♨ Milk, ⅓ cup
♨ Water, ⅓ cup
♨ Unsalted butter, 2 tbsp. (melted)
♨ Salt, ¼ tsp.

● Preparation Time: 15 minutes
● Cooking Time: 20 minutes
● Serves: 6

1. In a bowl, whisk flour with salt; set aside. In another small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, water. and 1 tbsp. (15 mL) of the butter until consistency of 10% cream, adding up to 2 tbsp. (25 mL) more water if too thick. Pour over dry ingredients, whisking until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve into bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Stir before using.
2. Heat an 8-inch (20 cm) crepe pan or skillet over medium-low heat; brush lightly with some of the remaining butter. For each crepe, pour scant ¼ cup (50 mL) batter into the center of a pan, swirling to coat the pan; pour out the excess batter. Cook, turning once, until golden, for about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate; round off the edge of the crepe where batter was poured off. (Make-ahead: Layer between waxed paper and wrap in a plastic wrap; refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze in an airtight container for up to 1 month.)
3. In a large skillet, melt sugar with butter over medium heat. Add orange rind, orange juice, and 1 tbsp. (15 mL) of the orange liqueur; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 minute.
4. Add 1 crepe to skillet, turning to coat. Using tongs, fold crepe into quarters; move to side of skillet. Repeat with remaining crepes, overlapping around the edge of pan. Drizzle with the remaining liqueur. Remove from heat and ignite the pan. When the flame subsides, serve crepes.

Tip: Use a nonstick pan with a heavy bottom and lots of butter for good results.
This is a dainty little cake layer, a light meringue that has nuts folded into it, and baked in a thin layer. The dacquoise is crisp and adds a sweet, nuttiness to your regular cakes. Below is the recipe for Hazelnut Dacquoise with Chocolate Ganache Filling.
Dacquoise layer
Ingredients (Meringue)

♨ Hazelnuts, 1 cup (toasted and skins removed)
♨ Granulated sugar, 1 cup (divided)
♨ Egg whites, 4 (room temperature)
♨ Cream of tartar, ½ tsp.

Ingredients (Filling)

♨ Whipping cream, 1⅓ cups (divided)
♨ Dark or bittersweet chocolate, 5 oz. (coarsely chopped)

● Preparation Time: 35 minutes
● Cooking Time: 35 minutes
● Serves: 12

1. Preheat an oven to 325°F (180°C).
2. Process hazelnuts with ¼ cup of sugar, coarsely, in a food processor. Remove 2 tbsp. for garnishing. Continue processing the hazelnuts until finely chopped.
3. Take two baking sheets with parchment paper; lay them straight and draw two 4 x 8-inch (10 x 20 cm) rectangles. Flip the paper to see if the rectangles are visible.
4. Whisk egg whites with an electric mixer. Add cream of tartar and beat to form soft peaks. Add the remaining sugar, about 1 tbsp. at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in hazelnuts. Spoon ¼ of the mixture over each rectangle; spread evenly to fill the space.
5. Bake in a preheated 325°F (180°C) oven for about 25 minutes until they turn light golden in color and crispy in texture. Allow them to cool on sheets.

For Filling

1. To assemble, heat chocolate and ⅓ cup whipping cream in a microwave on high power for about 40 seconds until the chocolate is partially melted. Stir until completely melted; set aside.
2. Whip the remaining cream until stiff peaks get formed. Gently fold in the chocolate until blended.
3. Carefully peel one meringue from parchment paper and place it on a serving plate. Spread ¼ of filling over meringue. Likewise, continue to layer remaining meringues and filling, the end layer being that of filling. Garnish those reserved hazelnuts over the top.
4. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight before cutting into slices with a serrated knife to serve.

Tip: Never stop the mixer in the middle of making the meringue otherwise you'll lose the momentum.
Tarte Tatin (French Apple Tart)
Tarte tatin is a traditional upside-down fruit tart. It includes fruit and nut tarts of all sorts: apple, plum, strawberry, apricot, blueberry, and pear. The base might be puff pastry or short bread, and there is likely to be a layer of pastry cream under the fruit. Look down for one of the ways to make an apple tart.
Tarte tatin

♨ Apples, like Granny Smith apples, 3 lb.
♨ Butter, 3 oz.
♨ Sugar, 8 oz.
♨ Pre-made pie crust or a puff pastry round, 1 (9 inches)

● Preparation Time: 20 minutes
● Cooking Time: 20 minutes
● Serves: 4

1. Peel the apples and cut them into half. Remove the core and cut them into wedges.
2. Place a heavy 10-inch, oven-safe skillet over medium heat.
3. Place the butter into the pan and let it melt.
4. Cover the melted butter with an even layer of sugar.
5. Place the apple wedges standing on end around the edge of the pan. You can arrange the remaining apple wedges around the center of the pan.
6. Cook the apples over medium heat until the apples are soft, for about 30 minutes.
7. On a lightly floured surface, unfold the puff pastry sheet. Fold in each corner of the puff pastry by about 2 inches and press down to form an "octagon." With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 12-inch round. Place the dough round on top of the apples in a skillet; tuck in the edge of dough around the apples. With a knife, cut six ¼-inch slits in the dough to allow steam to escape during baking. Bake the tart for about 25 minutes or until the crust is golden.
8. Remove from heat and let it cool slightly.
9. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
10. Lay the pie crust over the apples.
11. Bake for 35 minutes until the pastry is light golden brown.
12. Let the tart cool to room temperature.
13. Invert onto a platter.

Tip: Unbaked pastry can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 weeks.
These are small cakes that can go with tea, coffee, or hot chocolate. The batter is sometimes baked with crushed almonds or vanilla flavoring and may be coupled with chocolate-hazelnut spread. In order to make these delightful little cakes, you will need a madeleine pan. A madeleine pan is a shallow pan with shell-shaped molds. You can find them at any baking and cooking supply store. Have a look at the Lemon Madeleine recipe given below.
Madeleine cake

♨ Butter, ⅔ cup
♨ Eggs, 3
♨ Confectioners' sugar, 1 cup (sifted)
♨ Flour, 1 cup (sifted)
♨ Lemon zest, 2 tsp. (finely grated)
♨ Baking powder, ½ tsp.
♨ Sugar (to garnish)

● Preparation Time: 20 minutes
● Cooking Time: 15 minutes
● Serves: 12-16

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Grease and flour your madeleine pan. If you're using a nonstick pan, give it a good spray with a nonstick spray.
3. Melt butter and let it cool to room temperature.
4. Whip the eggs in a bowl, adding the confectioners' sugar slowly.
5. Continue beating until the mixture is thick and pale.
6. Add the lemon zest.
7. Sift the flour with baking powder.
8. Gently fold the flour mixture into the eggs.
9. Add the melted butter and keep stirring.
10. Using a spoon, fill the molds two-thirds of the way full.
11. Bake for around 10 minutes, until golden brown.
12. Remove from the mold and let cool on a wire rack. Garnish with sugar before the madeleines cool.

Tip: You can have the mixture ready in advance and cook the cakes when your guests arrive so that you can all enjoy warm madeleines.
Mille-feuille is a classic French pastry. It is also known as Napoleon. It's made by alternating layers of pastry with custard cream, and then decorating it with icing.
Mille feuilles

♨ Puff pastry, 1½ lb. (frozen)
♨ Pastry cream, 1 batch (creme brassiere)

For Icing and Decoration

♨ Egg whites, 2 (room temperature)
♨ Lemon juice, 2 tsp.
♨ Powdered sugar, 3 cups
♨ Bittersweet chocolate, 3 oz. (melted)

● Preparation Time: 60 minutes
● Cooking Time: 25 minutes
● Serves: 8

1. Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
2. Make the pastry cream. Cool it to room temperature, and chill it in the fridge until needed.
3. Bake the pastry layers. Roll out the puff pastry dough into an elongated rectangle with the thickness of a thin piece of cardboard. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into three equally-sized pieces.
4. Now take a baking pan, lined with parchment paper, and pierce the dough all over with a fork. Cover the dough with another sheet of parchment paper, and place pie weights on top to weigh down the dough as it bakes.
5. Bake the dough (in batches if necessary) for about 25 minutes, till it becomes golden brown. The weights and top layer of the parchment paper pan should be removed in the last five minutes of baking.
6. Keep the dough to cool completely.
7. Now, it's time to assemble and embellish the Mille-Feuille.
8. Have everything handy: the baked puff pastry layers, the pastry cream, and the ingredients for frosting and decorating.
9. Start by distributing half of the pastry cream over one layer of baked puff pastry. Top with another layer of dough, pressing gently to adhere it to the pastry cream below. Spread the remaining pastry cream over the second layer of pastry. Top with the third layer of pastry and again press down gently.
10. Melt the chocolate and have it ready in a pastry bag or decorating tube fitted with a fine round tip.
11. Make the royal icing by beating the egg whites and lemon juice till it foams. Add most of the powdered sugar and stir till it is smooth and glossy. Add more powdered sugar if necessary to achieve a consistency such that icing drizzled back into the bowl from the beaters will sit briefly on the surface of the icing before sinking back in.
12. Immediately pour the royal icing over the top layer of pastry and spread it evenly. Don't worry if some of the icing drips over the edges.
13. Next, working quickly, drizzle the chocolate across the surface of the icing in evenly-spaced, parallel lines. Again, don't worry if some of the chocolate drips over the edges, and don't worry if your lines look sloppy. The next step will improve their appearance.
14. With the tip of a thin, sharp knife, make evenly-spaced perpendicular "cuts" through the lines of chocolate, from one side of the pastry to the other. Start by making one cut in one direction, and the next cut in the opposite direction. Continue alternating directions as you work across the surface of the pastry. This creates the classic decorative pattern shown in the photo.
15. Now you'll want to trim the edges of the mille-feuille to give it a cleaner, professional look. With a long, sharp knife, cut 1/4" off the edges of the pastry all around to make a neat, evenly proportioned rectangle. (Don't discard the scraps; save them to eat as well!)
16. Carefully transfer the trimmed mille-feuille to a serving dish and refrigerate. Allow an hour or two to chill before serving. A long, non-serrated knife will make the cleanest cut through the icing.

Tip: It's best to work on a flat surface for easy transfer of the finished pastry to a serving dish.
(Dark) Chocolate Mousse
French mousses got their starts as savory dishes rather than sweet dishes. Mousse is a light, whipped creamy dessert that comes in a variety of flavors, the most popular being chocolate. Other flavorings can be added too. The dish is whipped in a way to comprise fair amount of air to make the dessert light and fluffy. Here is the recipe for making chocolate mousse.
Chocolate mousse

♨ Dark chocolate (or bittersweet chocolate for regular chocolate mousse), 3 ½ oz. (chopped)
♨ Butter, 1 tbsp.
♨ Heavy whipping cream, 1 tbsp. (chilled)
♨ Chipotle pepper, ⅛ tsp. (ground, dried)
♨ Salt, 1 tiny pinch
♨ Egg yolks, 2
♨ White sugar, 1 tbsp.
♨ Heavy whipping cream, ½ cup (chilled)
♨ Water, 2 tbsp.

● Preparation Time: 15 minutes
● Cooking Time: 15 minutes
● Serves 6-8

1. Boil a saucepan of water over low heat. Melt chocolate, butter, 2 tablespoons water, ground Chippendale pepper, and salt in a heatproof bowl; set the bowl over the simmering water. When the butter melts, whisk the mixture gently until it gets smooth and shiny. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, whip egg yolks, 2 tablespoons water, and sugar in another saucepan over the same pan of simmering water until the egg yolk mixture is foamy and hot to the touch (about 3 minutes). Pour hot egg mixture into the warm chocolate mixture, whisk until smooth, and set over a bowl of ice to chill. Whisk constantly until the mixture has cooled to room temperature or is slightly cooler.
3. Now get a chilled metal bowl and pour ½ cup of cold cream. Whisk until cream holds soft peaks. Place about half the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate mixture; gently fold the cream into the chocolate. Repeat with remaining half of whipped cream, folding gently until nearly all the streaks have disappeared. Divide the mousse into 4 6-ounce ramekins.
4. Cover each ramekin with a plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (up to overnight) before serving.
5. Garnish each serving with a dollop of whipped cream with crushed chocolate.

We bet you won't be able to stop once you taste it.

Tip: If you decide to refrigerate the mousse overnight, then cover them with plastic wraps.

There are various other desserts, like bavarois and clafoutis, macaroons and soufflés, and the list goes on. Do tell us if you tried our recipes, and share the sugariness with us.

Even the simplest of desserts can become graceful when served with care and just a hint of panache. No more instructions; all we would say is, keep calm and absorb the French sweetness!