Paris was my first. I arrived with my family for a short stint while my Dad worked for the State Department in 1972. I was 10 years old and had no idea what to expect. I was enchanted! My Dad always said that we would probably forget our time there but it left an indelible mark on me. I have been to Paris many times since, but Paris 1972 was an awakening to the French language, the sites, the people and, most of all, the food! I will never forget my first bite in Paris: pistachio ice cream (la glace en français) which I can still taste.
Paris is a sugar lover’s dream. The only problem you’ll have when it comes to French deserts is which one to choose. To help you navigate that yummy last course here are my favorite must try deserts for any visit to France. And if you have to eat more than one a day just to get through them? Well, c’est la vie!
Here is the short-list of some of the most iconic and delicious pastries in Paris:
The Tartes Aux Fruits– The tartes aux fruits are prepared with fresh fruit inside a buttery pastry. The fruit sit atop a heavenly Chantilly cream. You can enjoy these tartes in both miniature and pie sizes.
The Éclair– The éclair is a popular dessert in Paris. The long French choux pastry can be filled with either a rich custard or pastry cream, and topped with a sweet fondant. By definition, the term éclair means lightning in French. Go figure!
The Paris Brest– This pastry was created to celebrate the Paris to Brest bicycle ride in 1891. Naturally, its circular and contains praline flavored crème and choux pastry.
Macaron– Macarons are undeniably delectable. There are so many flavors to choose from. The base ingredients include an airy meringue and almonds. Be sure to not confuse with coconut macaroons, in which the English added the -oon to the word in the 16thcentury.
The Tarte Au Citron– Tarte Au Citron also known as the lemon tart are also very popular. Donning a pastry crust and delicious lemon filling. The filling, however, is not made with fruit. The cream is a mixture containing lemon juice, lemon zest and of course, eggs and sugar.
The Mille Feuille– This fluffy treat comes in a vanilla or custard slice and is comprised of several layers of puff pastry. Between the puff pastry lies an additional two layers of pastry crème. Another name for the Mille Feuill is the Napoleon.
The Tarte Tatin– Named after the hotel that serves the dessert (Hotel Tatin), the tarte Tatin is a unique upside-down pastry. Its ingredients include caramelized fruit prepared with sugar and butter. It pairs famously with a bit of tart crème fraiche.
The Choux à La Crème– These cream puffs are created using puff pastry as well. They swell while cooking and are actually hollow. The oozing center can be either whipped cream or custard. Interestingly enough, once you add chocolate as your topping, it then becomes a profiterole. There are various different toppings you can add to this pastry, from ice cream to fruit and even spun caramel.
Croissant– This buttery flaky wonder is a signature French pastry. There are so many ways to top it; you can use fruit, chocolate, fondant or a compote of your choosing. You will not be disappointed.
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