French Dessert Recipes

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Crepe Cake with Butterscotch Cream Recipe

Mille Crêpe, also known as Gâteau de Crêpe, is a multi-layered cake made out of crêpes. I spread layers of butterscotch buttercream in between each crêpe and topped the cake with thinly-sliced candied apples. This is quite time-consuming to make in miniature versions, but you can always make large crêpes and cut the cake into slices as you would with regular buttercream cakes.

I made the cake in honor of La chandeleur (Candlemas), which is celebrated on February 2nd. It's originally a Christian tradition that celebrates the presentation of Jesus at the Temple and also marks the end of the Epiphany season (Kings' galettes are made). I don't exactly know how crêpes became part of the French celebration of La Chandeleur, but I do know that they are an integral part of the festivities. There is a legend that says that on the day of La Chandeleur, if you're able to flip a crêpe and make it land properly (without it being wrinkled) in the pan without dropping it on the floor, you'll have a prosperous year. Originally,  prosperity referred to a bumper crop of grain, but with fewer and fewer people farming for a living, over time it's come to imply general wealth. In a way it's an enduring testament to the agrarian culture of yore. That culture has survived in other ways too; in fact the saying avoir beaucoup de blé, which literally means "To have a lot of wheat", is slang for "being wealthy".

If you want to practice, prepare the crêpe batter a couple of days in advance, cook a few, and try to flip them. It may not fill your pocketbook, but it's a great way to fill your tummy.


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Tarte Tatin aux Pommes (Upside down Apple Pie) Recipe

Tarte Tatin sounds like a fancy dessert, but really, it's just an upside down caramel apple tart. I made a simple tart shell using dough called pâte brisée. Instead of filling the shell though, I placed slices of apples that were cooked in a caramel sauce into the mold and then covered them with the tart shell. The tarts then went into the oven to cook the shell. 

You really should eat these treats almost as soon as they come out of the oven. To plate, just flip each mold and the apples will now be on top. If you wait too long, the caramel will harden and it will be difficult to unmold.  If you flip the tart out and let it sit, the crust will get soggy. This has never been a problem at my house because the smell of freshly baking apples always manages to gather the entire family in the kitchen.


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Galette Des Rois a la Pistache (Pistachio Kings Cake) Recipe

This Galette des Rois (Kings' cake) is filled with a sweet pistachio mixture. The traditional Epiphany dessert is made with almond cream, called frangipane, so this was an obvious substitution. The green pistachios give the treats a nice color contrast, and work well with the flaky crust.

I got some Harry Potter fèves last time I went to Paris, which you can see in these pictures. The girls are obsessed with the series, so when I brought them out for the photos they went nuts. If you were to serve individual sized galettes, as I have done here, you should hide a fève in one of the dishes and let each person choose a plate at random. Just make sure to hide the fève well so that the naughty ones who peek can't figure out where you hid it. Whoever finds the fève is Queen or King for the day!

Pistachio Kings Cake Recipe with Picture


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Chocolate Orange King Cake (Galette des Rois) Recipe

La galette des Rois, or king's cake, is made every year to celebrate Epiphany. For those who don't know, epiphany is a Christian holiday that celebrates the Magi visiting baby Jesus. January 6th is the official day of Epiphany, but in France, we usually celebrate it on the Sunday between the 2nd and the 8th.  

This delicious treat is a flaky puff pastry with a sweet filling. The traditional filling is a simple almond cream, or frangipane, but this year I felt like a change. To the basic frangipane recipe I added melted chocolate and Grand Marnier (or orange extract for the kids).

Before serving, it's customary to hide a small figurine in the galette. Whoever gets the piece with the figurine is king (or queen) for a day. In reality, the winner is anyone who gets to have a slice of this delicious dessert.

Galette des Rois (Kings Cake)


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