Classic French desserts you have to try in France – our top 6 picks


French cuisine is famous the world over, particularly for its sweets and pastries. We share our favourite 6 treats from food writer Mary Cadogan, accompanied by easy-to-follow recipes

1. Crêpes Suzette

This classic French dessert of crêpes covered in a beurre Suzette, a sauce of caramelised sugar, butter, and orange juice, is often served flambéd with an orange liqueur. Rumour has it that that the dessert was invented by accident by a 14-year-old waiter at the Café de Paris in Monte Carlo in 1895. The waiter was about to serve a dish of crêpes to the Prince of Wales (Later Edward VII) when he spilt some orange liqueur and it ignited over the dessert. Fortunately for him his honoured guests enjoyed the new dessert…

2. Mousse au chocolat

No matter which restaurant you go in France this dessert, made from dark chocolate, whipped egg whites and a little sugar, is bound to be on the menu, no matter what style or class. The origins of the sweet are unknown but it is believed French chefs were introduced to chocolate by the Spanish in the late 16th/early 17th centuries.

3. Tarte Tatin

This tasty upside-down caramelised apple tart is another classic French dish reputedly created by accident. The story goes that when hotelier Stéphanie Tatin realised she had left her apples cooking in butter and sugar too long she, rather than waste them, quickly topped them with pastry and put the whole lot in the oven. Once the pastry had cooked she turned the dish upside down to serve and a new recipe was born; a recipe that would become a classic and known the world over, immortalising her name forever…

4. Îles flottantes

Originating in the French home kitchen, Île flottante, which translates as floating island, is a vanilla custard topped with poached meringue and finished with a flourish of caramel. It can also be called oeufs à la neige (eggs in snow), so if you see that on a menu you will know it’s essentially the same dish.

5. Crême brulée

You may not believe it but the English, or to be more correct Trinity College Cambridge, regard themselves as the inventor of crême brulée or burnt cream as they called it, although both the French and Spanish dispute this. However if the British did invent it then the French definitely perfected it and today it is regarded a French classic.

6. Galette des Rois

Also known as ‘king cake’, Galette des Rois is traditionally served at the feast of the Epiphany on 6 January to celebrate the arrival of the kings in Bethlehem. In northern parts of France, the cake consists of two layers of puff pastry baked with a layer of almond frangipani in between, but in Provence it is usually a brioche-type ring cake studded with candied fruits

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