10 Classic French Pastries And Desserts To Try In Paris!!
Paris is the mecca for sweet tooth! And travel we did just to please our appetite for a good desert! A weekend of walking and exploring, and experiencing a bit of what Paris has to offer! Crispy to creamy and sometimes both combined, light and flaky or totally decadent there is no end to the indulgence you can bestow upon your palette!
Here is our list of favourites! Don’t count the calories but devour each mouthful of perfectly crafted treats because relishing a bite is the best way to feel alive!
Pistachio Chocolate Escargot from Du Pain et des Idées
1. Pistachio Chocolate Escargot
This spiral shaped flaky pastry is every Parisians love affair. Made from the multiple layers of thin buttery dough, the pastry is given a swirled shaped like a snail – which explains the name! A generous amount of pistachio paste and chocolate flakes are tucked in between the dough layers and cooked until they are perfect golden. Best eaten fresh when it still carries the warmth of the oven. Every bite of this pastry carries a symphony of flavour and texture that comes from the flaky pastry, rich nutty pistachio paste and melted chocolate bits. Perfect for breakfast, Pistachio Chocolate Escargot is popular among locals and tourists. One of the best places to try Pistachio Chocolate Escargot is at a very famous French Bakery, Du Pain et des Idées, which is a block away from Canal St Martin.
Freshly made plain croissant from Du Pain et des Idées
The best way to kick start your day in Paris -A perfectly made fresh croissant and a cup of coffee! The humble looking croissant can be considered the darling of Parisian and French gastronomy but has its roots in Austria. Food historians believe that the innovation of modern-day French croissant was inspirited by the Austrian pastry kipfels which has its
own interesting yet controversial past! If legends are to be believed the crescent shape of kipfels came to existence to mimic the crescent moon of Ottoman flag after the Austrian victory over the Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1683. When kipfels came to France, the puff pastry took over the original recipe pastry dough.
A perfectly made croissant should be flaky outside yet soft, slightly chewy, very lightly moist and buttery inside. The layers of pastry should be visible and distinct when cut open. Made from pure butter and slightly sweet yeast dough, the butter and dough are mixed and rolled into multiple layers that give the fluffiness tothe puff pastry. A freshly made plain croissant is good enough to be devoured as it is, though now a days it comes fitted with pastry cream, chocolate, jams and other fillings. We tried this French classic multiple times during our weekend stay in Paris. but the best one we ate was at the patisserie Du Pain et des Idées.
Miniature Paris Brest from Stohrer
3. Paris Brest
Created by chef Louis Durand in 1910 to celebrate the Paris-Brest-Paris cycle race that used to go past his patisserie, this classic French pastry is characterised by its toasted nutty flavour and the aroma of praline cream. Hence the shape of Peris-Brest resembles the wheels of a cycle. This delicate and soft ring-shaped pastry is made by baking the pastry dough ‘pâte à choux’ topped with almond flakes till golden brown. Then the pastry ring is sliced horizontally into two and filled with a generous portion of hazelnut, almond mousseline and praliné cream. This classic pastry is now made by chefs all around the country. We tried this French delicacy at Stohrer, a famous classic Parisian patisserie. The one we tried was a smaller version/portion of the pastry though no different from the actual Paris-Brest in flavour, taste or texture.
Socked in rum - Rum Baba from Stohrer
4. Baba Ru Rhum or Rum Baba
Baba ru Rhum or Rum Baba is a spongy cake filled with raisins and soaked in rum as the name suggests. The spongy cake is baked in baba mould or a ring mould as the centre of the cake can be filled with whipped or pastry cream or fruit like raisins. The critical part of this desert is the texture of the cake which is required to be soft and spongy to absorb the rum but at the same time firm enough to hold its shape after getting absorbed all the alcoholic syrupy liquid. It is traditionally served with a cherry on top and a dollop of whipped cream. The story goes that the cake was invented by pastry chef Nicolas Stohrer who cooked it for Polish King Stanislas Lesczyńska. Thus, the Stohrer patisserie was the first in Paris that start selling this cake to Parisians. There are dividing opinions on the origin of the name for this, as few believe the name Baba ur rhum came from the Arabian Nights character Ali Baba, while others believe that the name is derived from the Slovic word baba which means grandmother. The cake we tried in Stohrer patisserie had very strong flavour of alcohol in it and the extra sweetness was bit too much for our liking. Nevertheless, it was a classic French desert to be tasted in Paris.
Lemon Yuzu Meringue Éclair from L'Eclair de Génie
This sophisticated yet simple classic French pastry needs to be in every food lover’s list while visiting Paris. Made from the simple pastry dough of pâte à choux (which is also used to make other French classic pastry like profiteroles or croquembouche), Éclair is an elongated tube-shaped casing filled with pastry cream in the centre and coated on top with a layer of confectioner’s glaze. In the classic chocolate Éclair, the top glaze is made of chocolate ganache. It’s believed that the shining chocolate glaze gives the pastry its name as Éclairs in French stands for lightning. A perfectly made Éclair can be easily recognised by its crispy exterior, a soft interior and a generous portion of creamy filling in the centre. Though earlier, the Éclair used to come with traditional filling of vanilla or chocolate pastry cream and chocolate glaze, now a days chefs are infusing the pastry cream and top glaze with various other flavours such as seasonal fruits or modern classics like pistachio, salted caramel, coffee and more.
There are several patisseries in Paris that serve perfectly made Éclairs, we tried this French classic at L'Eclair de Génie as they are quite well known their Éclairs . The range of flavours available at L'Eclair de Génie is huge and we picked up three different flavours – Raspberry Mascarpone, Salted Butter Caramel and Lemon Yuzu Meringue. The Éclairs were perfectly made and the flavour or the sweetness was not overpowering!
An assortment of flavours - Macarons from Ladurée
This small round colourful confection is made by sandwiching two meringue-based cookies with a layer of ganache, buttercream, or jam in between. These originated in Italy, and came to France during the 16th century, when the pastry chef of Catherine de Medici introduced the Italian Macaroni or Maccarone or Maccherone to the French people, a small round cookie without any creamy filling. However, -it was in France that the present-day macarons came into existence, when two pieces of cookies were sandwiched. Made from almond flour, icing sugar and eggwhite, a prefect macaron should have a crunchy outer layer and be soft inside. Macarons come in hundreds of flavours, with classic favourites like pistachio, chocolate, raspberry, vanilla to modern twists like coffee, salted caramel and more. There are many places in Paris to eat macarons. We treated ourselves at Ladurée which is not only well known for its macarons but has the most amazing atmosphere and décor to enjoy these little treats!
Perfectly made Ispahan from Ladurée - the birthplace of the pastry
Created by renowned pastry chef Pierre Herme, Ispahan is a modern French pastry made of Parisian macarons, rose cream, fresh raspberry and lychee. Invented in the 90s, the Ispahans are made with thin & crunchy rose favoured macarons with a soft inside. These are assembled using one shell of macaron as base, topped with rose cream in the centre and surrounded by fresh raspberries at the edges. Then centre gets filled with fresh cuts of lychee and more rose cream and top shell of macaron. then gets placed on top. The flavour-filled macaron sandwich then gets garnished with fresh rose petals and raspberries.
We tried Ispahan at Ladurée, believed to be the birthplace of this iconic pastry. The flavours were intense yet smooth. The freshness of the lychee cuts through the rich flavour and texture of the rose cream. The unique combination of flavour of rose, raspberry and lychee plus the texture which is a combination of the crunchy macaron, the soft fruits and rose cream, create a delightful magic inside your mouth.
A simple buttle and icing sugar Crêpe from a crêpery in the heart of Paris
It’s almost customary for tourists in Paris to pick up a crêpe from one of the many crêperies (where crêpes are made) spread across the city and walk down the bank of river Seine while indulging in the taste and soaking up the Parisian vibe! Accidentally created by a housewife in 13th century France, crêpe derived its name from the French word crespe which means curled, a characteristic of the curled edge of a perfectly made crêpe. Thinner than pancake, the simple and humble crêpe is made of plain flour (back in the days, buckwheat flour was used), egg and milk or water, sugar and butter are optional.
Though a perfectly made plain crêpe served with a dollop of butter and a dusting of icing sugar is perfect and elegant enough, with time, a wide range of sweet and savoury fillings started gaining popularity. These days crepes can be had with hazelnut spread, lemon and sugar, jams, fruits and even ice cream. While in Paris we grabbed a few crêpes with different fillings from different crêperies and were amazed every time! So simple yet so tasty!
The heavenly rum raisin Kouignette from Maison Georges Larnicol
This pastry looks like a croissant but in a shape of a cupcake. It is more sugary, more buttery and more flaky! This pastry is actually the smaller version of another larger pastry called Kouig-Amann which originated in Brittany in France. Kouignettes are made from multiple layers of thin sheets of dough along with lots of butter with sugar in between the sheets. Once baked, the top is crunchy, flaky and brown. The generous use of butter and sugar makes Kouignette heavy and intensely sweet in taste. Apart from the plain version of Kouignette, various other flavours such as almond, chocolate, fruits, raisin are also widely enjoyed.
We tried a few varieties of this pastry, rum raisin, pistachio paste, almond and raspberry, at a shop called Maison Georges Larnicol -. Our favourite was the rich rum raisin!
A timeless French classic - Crème Brûlée
10. Crème Brûlée
This creamy, silky and delicate baked custard, is a timeless classic! Its origin has been contested over by the French, English and the Spanish. The earliest recorded recipe of Crème Brûlée can be found in 15th century French cuisine, though the English claim to have invented this dessert during 17th century with the name ‘burnt custard’ and Spanish claim to have created this during 18th century with the name ‘cream Catalana’. Irrespective of the origin, simple yet elegant Crème Brûlée is a popular dessert in the modern world culinary map
The cream is made of egg yolks, double cream, sugar and vanilla. It is baked gently at low heat and then left to set and firm up. The creamy base is then dusted with dermera sugar and charred (brulee) to create a dark thin crispy outer layer. Crack open the top and enjoy the decadence!
We cracked ours at the French Crème Brûlée, couple of times during our food adventure in Paris and we are craving for more!