I have to thank another blogger for the inspiration for this post. After reading my thoughts on the 10 most popular dishes in France: National Coq au Vin Day, the 10 most popular French dishes and more… – Fancying France, Helen, who has a lovely blog ‘thingshelenloves’, suggested that I write a post about the most popular desserts in France. This thought had crossed my mind but I hadn’t got round to actually writing about it – until now! As before, I found it difficult to limit myself and also to establish the criteria for my selection. I have decided not to include cakes, biscuits or pastries and have selected the more traditional or classic French desserts.
In no particular order:
- Crème Brûlée
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I must confess that I’m not a fan of this dessert, nor crème caramel, but it is nearly always on restaurant menus, in France. It is a creamy, baked custard with a brittle top of melted sugar that cracks when you tap it with a spoon. The basic ingredients are double cream, eggs, sugar, and vanilla.
- Mousse au chocolat
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This is a dessert that I have made many times, over the years. Here’s a link to a simple recipe:
I’ve read that, in the UK, chocolate mousse is a retro dessert that is no longer popular. I don’t know about that but it certainly still features regularly on restaurant menus in France.
- Crêpes suzettes
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I love pancakes and have written about them several times in this blog :
However, I don’t like Crêpes Suzette! I find them a bit sickly and sweet. There are quite a few variations on how to prepare this dish but a basic pancake can be taken to another level with the addition of Grand Marnier! If you then decide to flambé them – pure theatre!
- Fondant au chocolat
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If you’re a fan of Master Chef you might be familiar with the chocolate fondant. This is a challenging dessert which has been the downfall of many a contestant. However, I’m thinking of a variation, chocolate fondant cake, also called a Moelleux au chocolat. I’ve shared this – it’s very rich – when I’ve been out for dinner in France. (Happy memories!) It’s also a dessert that’s easy to make. Here’s a link to a recipe:
- L’île flottante
This is called ‘Floating Islands’ in English and to say I don’t like it, is an understatement! Sorry to any fans out there. It is a traditional, nostalgic dessert that remains popular in France. It is poached meringues, floating in a sea of custard with a caramel sauce. Michel Roux Jnr shows how to make one of his favourite French desserts in the video below. You will need to fast forward to about seven minutes in to see the demonstration.
A clafoutis is a type of flan made with fruit, traditionally, cherries. It is baked in a sweet batter and originated in the Limousin area of France. I like it because it isn’t too sweet. It’s a dessert that I have made quite often for friends and family. Here is a link to a recipe by Raymond Blanc for a classic cherry clafoutis: Cherry clafoutis recipe – BBC Food
- Tarte Tatin
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There are so many delicious fruit tarts available in France that it is difficult to select just one. Tarte Tatin is my choice because it different, basically a caramelised apple upside-down tart. There is also an interesting story as to how it was invented.
Legend goes that Tarte Tatin came about completely by accident. In the early 1880s, the two Tatin sisters ran a hotel, south of Paris. One of them, distracted one day, left some sliced apples to cook in butter and sugar too long, and they began to burn. To avoid them browning further, she placed a pastry lid over the apples, and put the pan, and its contents, into a hot oven. The result was a great success.
- Café Liégeois
This is a cold dessert, a take on an ice cream sundae. It comprises ice cream, coffee and whipped cream. There is also a chocolate version, a Chocolat Liégeois which I prefer! I struggled to find a copyright free image so here’s a video (in French!).
- Poire Belle-Hélène
This classic dessert consists of poached pears and a rich chocolate sauce, served with vanilla ice cream.
Simple but sweet?!
- Café Gourmand
This is my most favourite dessert of all! I might be cheating a little because it isn’t one dessert but several. Admittedly, only in small amounts but I love the idea of not having to choose one but having little tasters of several desserts. Served alongside a small cup of black coffee, this is my idea of dessert heaven!
What is your idea of dessert heaven? It doesn’t have to be French!