Bonjour! Bienvenue dans un article de blog entièrement consacré aux pâtisseries et desserts français! (Welcome to a blog post entirely about French pastries and desserts!). So get ready to emmerse yourself in the world of pure culinary delights and learn more about the sweet world of French pâtisserie.
History of French Pastry
Now, I completely understand that history is not everyone’s cup of tea (see what I did there!), however, do not fear. I am not going to tell you every detail about the pastry revolution but instead give you some interesting and insightful facts on this topic.
For instance, it is not commonly known that the foliated pastry was invented in 1630 by a French painter. Yes, really! Furthermore, the dessert we have all come to know and love, the macaron, was invented in 1793. Who would have ever believed that people’s love for these French classics has been around for centuries? This just emphasises the profound effect they have had on people, enough for them to continue to be made and enjoyed throughout the years.
It is impossible to deny that crème brûlée is one of the most famous and beloved French desserts, but what you may not know is that three countries have claimed that they are the ones who invented it. England, Spain and France are all battling it out for the grand title of crème brûlée inventor. However, since this particular type of dessert was popular in the Middle Ages all throughout Europe, it is difficult to decide who actually created it. Nevertheless, it is a delectable dessert which still catches the attention of people globally, so who created it matters little compared to how it tastes! Don’t you agree?
Quick Facts About the Sweet Desserts of France
Impress your friends and family with your knowledge of French baked goods with the following fun facts you can learn in just minutes!
- In France, the sweet pastry macaroons are often given as gifts to people on special occasions.
- The oldest French dessert is the Le Saint-Honoré, which is layers of puff pastry, decorated with choux pastry and filled with fresh pastry cream.
- One of the most famous desserts in Paris is the rum baba.
- The word Pâtisserie is used to describe French pastries and the pastry shop they are sold in.
- A petit four is a bite-sized appetizer which can be either savory or sweet.
- French pastries are especially flaky in texture due to the extra amount of butter they use in the dough (less healthy but 3x the deliciousness!).
- Whilst the word Pâtisserie is commonly used to describe delicate and delicious French pastries sold in pastry shops, there are strict rules which only allow a pastry shop to use the term if it has employed a licensed pâtissier, who is a master pastry chef. Astounding!
Top 10 French Pastries & Desserts You Must Try!
Whilst the history of French pastries is nothing less than interesting, you may be wondering what are the most popular culinary delights you can try? Well, your wish is granted as we will now take a look at the top 10 pastries and desserts that I recommend everyone should try, whether you are visiting Paris cafés or your local Parisian pâtisseries.
1. Macarons – Pastry
Marcarons are delectable bite-sized treats made from chewy meringue and filled with a luxurious buttercream and jam. There are many different flavor combinations that you can choose from, including salted caramel, pistachio and coffee. Personally, my favorites are chocolate, hazelnut and lemon. I would try all the flavors if it were not for the calories!
I always buy this from a local pastry shop or a supermarket bakery. However, if you are feeling even more adventurous, why not try and make them at home? It is quite a simple recipe and you can customize your bakes according to your flavor preference.
This recipe from Tasty is a perfect step-by-step guide. Why not give it a try?
2. Croissant – Pastry
Now many of you will be familiar with the French breakfast staple – the humble croissant. It is a buttery and flakey pastry with a laminated top. It is essentially dough which has been layered with butter, folded multiple times and then rolled out and folded into a crescent shape.
Many enjoy this with butter and jam, but it would be just as delicious straight out of the oven. Some who are even more creative turn this into a sweet dessert, filling it with whipped cream, strawberries and covering it in melted chocolate. Scrumptious!
Recipe: New York Times
3. Profiteroles – Pastry
Profiteroles are sweet choux pastry which is typically filled with fresh whipped cream or ice cream, depending on the type of dessert you are creating. It is then topped with delicious chocolate ganache or powdered sugar. They are often plated in a pile, perfect for sharing with your dinner guests.
You can also make savory profiteroles filled with cheese, pureed chicken or even smoked salmon and cream cheese.
A very versatile pastry with endless possibilities!
4. Crème Brûlée – Dessert
Crème Brûlée, otherwise referred to as “burnt cream” is a rich sweetened custard base filling topped with sugar, which is then torched to form a sugary caramelized crust. It is served in a ramekin, either in individual portion sizes or as a large dish.
Add some fruit, a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream on top to make the ultimate creamy dessert!
5. Tarte Tatin – Dessert
The tarte tatin is a unique dish with an even more unique origin story. It was said to have been invented in the 1880s by the Tatin sisters, who owned and ran a hotel in Lamotte-Beuvron in the south of Paris. One of the sisters was in charge of all of the cooking and her specialty was apple pie. During a busy lunchtime, she began to be sidetracked and in all of the panic, she forgot to add pastry to the bottom of the tart. She feared that she would not be able to fulfill her customer’s order and even though the apples were already starting to caramelize, she placed the dough over the apples. Once cooked, she decided to serve it to the customer as a whole dish. As you can imagine, it was a success and the tarte tatin was invented, which later became their signature dish!
What a story!
Essentially, as you may be able to determine from the historical story, tarte tatin is apples which are caramelized with sugar in a pan. The apples are often placed in a decorative pattern, with a vanilla pod at the bottom. A sheet of dough is then placed over the apples and placed in the oven. Once fully cooked, the pastry would have risen and the dish would be flipped around, revealing the beautiful patterned fruit.
This dessert is often served with vanilla ice cream or with a light dusting of icing sugar. You can choose any fruit you like: pears, peaches, even cherries. However, the classic tarte tatin is made from apples.
It is a simple recipe, so why not try and recreate this classic French dessert at home?
6. Crème Caramel – Dessert
Crème caramel is a popular dessert in most European restaurants since it is simple to make and may be made ahead of time. A custard foundation with a soft caramel topping makes up this famous treat. The origins of crème caramel is unknown and contested. Though the term is French, others believe it was inspired by English custard.
Crème caramel is still a traditional French delicacy that consists of a luxuriously thick and creamy custard covered with caramel. All of the custard and caramel are made in the same small ramekin. The custard is cooled, turned, and the gorgeous caramel drips down the edges. Oh yummy!
7. Madeleines – Pastry
It is the belief that madeleines were invented in the 19th century by a pastry chef named Jean Avice, but others believe that they are considerably older. Tradition has it that it initially originated in the town of Lorraine in Commercy in the 1700s. A little girl by the name of Madeleine filled in for the local pastry chef, and the only item she knew how to prepare was her grandmother’s recipe. Everyone adored them, and so the “madeleine” was created.
Madeleines are mini shell-shaped sponge cakes, often containing almonds. You may find them covered in chocolate, icing or dusted with powdered sugar. You can even eat it as it is straight out of the oven with a hot cup of coffee. What could be better?
8. Mille Feuille – Pastry
Mille Feuille is a classic French dessert made of layers of razor-thin puff pastry and cream filling, which is gaining popularity across the globe. When translated into English, it means a thousand leaves. You see it most often in pâtisseries or in supermarkets topped with icing with a feathered pattern as decoration. With layers of flaky and buttery pastry, with a beautifully sweet cream filling, it is no wonder that this is a pastry which has become synonymous with Parisian-style desserts.
You can often find different fillings, some have a fresh fruit interior, a jam center or even a savory option. All of which sounds just delicious.
9. Opera Cake – Dessert
The notorious opera cake is a pastry which not only tastes delicious but is beautiful in it’s decoration and appearance. The name of this delicacy originates from the structure of the dessert, where it is believed that the layers of the cake resemble those of the multiple levels contained within an opera house. Furthermore, it is tradition that the word opera is written on the top of the finished cake using chocolate icing.
Containing signature classic flavors, the opera cake consists of six layers of light and airy almond sponge, filled with fluffy coffee buttercream and a rich chocolate ganache topped with a chocolate glaze which, when set, has a mirror quality effect. You can then top the finished cake with any decorations of your choice, whether it be writing, chocolate shards or piping, it is undoubtedly a show stopper.
It is guaranteed that you will find this dessert in every pastry shop and patisserie in Paris.
10. Crêpe – Pastry
Conclusion: A Summary of The Sweet Delicacy of French Pâtisserie