French cuisine draws millions of delighted voyagers to the country every year. Boulangeries and dessert shops specializing in decadent traditional French patisserie abound in the cities of France. Recreate your favorites from our list of classic French desserts!
The classic French combination of flaky, buttery croissant dough and smooth dark chocolate floats along the streets of Paris and, now, in your kitchen as well. The key to rolling out the perfect croissant dough is to laminate the dough—or repeatedly folding butter into the dough—while keeping it chilled. If your butter gets warm, it will leak out during the cooking process and affect the growth and layers of your fabulous croissants. You can’t rush buttery perfection, so make this a weekend project to allow for lots of resting time—for both you and your dough.
Madeleines get their classic shell shape from madeleine pans, which you’ll need to purchase before starting this baking project. French cuisine is known for its precision, which is perfectly encapsulated in this sublime, fluffy dessert. The classic madeleine hump is achieved through the use of a leavening agent—classically, beaten egg whites, although modernists often rely on baking powder.
Macarons are finicky—temperature shifts, humidity levels, and even the precision with which the ingredients are measured can easily affect the baking process. Ingredients are best weighed on a food scale, not measured in measuring cups, as the volume of different brands of measuring cups and ingredients varies. Whipped egg whites are the only raising agent in macarons; they whisk more easily at room temperature. Sift the flour into the egg white and sugar mixture, ensuring the evenness of mixture that there are no clumps!
Forget the horror stories you’ve heard about collapsing soufflés. Making a soufflé can be simplified into three steps: make a custardy base of your choice, gently fold in whipped egg whites, and bake. A few more helpful tips will keep you afloat and guarantee a fluffy, well-risen soufflé. Avoid over-folding the egg whites; only fold them into the mixture until the white streaks disappear. If you want your soufflé to resemble the flat-topped creations of Parisian boulangeries, level it off with a knife before you bake it.
Fresh cherries are baked in a warm custard base with vanilla and almond extract. There are numerous variations of this sweet, fruity dessert, so let your imagination run wild with prunes, blueberries, plums, apples, pears, or whatever else is in season.