Nothing causes the palate to water quite like French cuisine. For many, simply mentioning French food can send the senses stirring as rich whipped creams spring into our thoughts and decadent chocolates melt into our awaiting imaginations.
Indeed, the French know their desserts as well as they know their finest wines. So, what are some of the more traditional desserts one might see whilst seated in a fine corner cafe or regal restaurant? What French classic might find itself at a diner’s ravenous mercy?
The Crème Brulee
A rich custard dish dating back to the 17th century, the Crème Brulee has been the French culinary classic both Spain and England have alleged creation for. Egg, sugar, cream and vanilla lay the foundation for this fine dessert, whisked together into sweet submission.
Baked in individual servings and then set to cool, sugar is heaped onto the tops and torched to a beautiful crystalline and golden hue, giving the dessert a crisp top shell and a creamy filling beneath. Best when chilled, the Crème Brulee is a satisfying creation sure to please those with a sweet tooth.
The Madeleine is an exquisite treat, baked to a golden brown perfection in a shell shaped tin. And while this delectable dessert may only be the size of a medium cookie it is within this deception that the Madeleine holds its diner captive. With one bite into the buttery sweet delight it rises from the ranks of cookies and seats itself in the rows of dainty cakes.
Compact and yet fluffy, the sublime flavors of the fair Madeleine make it a French favorite for dunking into a cup of coffee or tea. Without the common crumbling of a cookie, the Madeleine holds its form for the few moments it is submerged in a beverage until making its final voyage to fulfill an awaiting appetite.
Make pistachio madeleines with chocolate sorbet, a twist on the classic version by great chef Daniel Galmiche
Thinner than a pancake, with the same circular shape and nearly identical ingredients, few dishes are quite as versatile as the Crepe. Boasting the ability to be a part of breakfast, lunch or dinner the Crepe knows no boundaries in the recipe world, dessert included. The original Crepes of France were baked and dusted with sugar, to be rolled up and enjoyed by both peasant and aristocrat alike.
In modern times, the Crepe is likely to be found on a plate layered with a delectable filling. Some of the more common styles have freshly cut fruit with whipped cream. For those who find a spread more appealing, a Crepe can be presented with jam or chocolate smoothed over the interior. Luxurious lemon creams or thick cheesecake centers have become a fast favorite among those brave enough for the rich and hearty flavor.
The Crème Brulee’s all-consuming flavor, the fair Madeleine’s soft, buttery cake and the Crepe’s simple and yet exceptional appeal. Within these three French desserts one can find a variety of reasons to stop on by the local cafe or bakery, hoping for a taste of one of France’s classic recipes.
Make a perfect French crepe with this fail-proof recipe from foodie writer Karen Burns-Booth of Lavender and Lovage