Image source: Flickr - Julien Haler
Paris is practically synonymous with desserts. Known for taking bread and pastries and turning them into an art form, Paris has something to tempt all palates. Visiting France is no time to go on a diet, especially with the below-mentioned treats offering not only great taste, but a cultural experience as well. To help you plan your trip, here are five desserts not to miss on a Paris vacation.
Creme Brulee is such a delicious French dessert that it has even made its way across the ocean to become a popular North American dessert. What's interesting is how amazingly simple this treat is to make, consisting of a toffee crust stuffed with egg custard. It was actually in Cambridge, England that the dessert was invented in the Middle Ages when they caramelized sugar directly onto the custard; however, the French are the ones who began cooking their crisp caramel disc separately and then placing the two together for a more distinctly layered experience. In Paris, one place known for the fresh and generously portioned creme brulee is Le Petit Chatelet (39 rue de la Bucherie), a cozy little restaurant just across from the famous Notre Dame - perfect for an after dinner walk to burn off that sugar!.
Mille Crepes Cake
We've all heard of crepes; those soft, thin flour pancakes stuffed with everything from ham and cheese to strawberry, banana, and even Nutella. The Mille Crepes Cake takes those crepe pancakes and instead of stuffing them, stacks them into numerous layers (mille means thousand, although this is a bit of an exaggeration, as there are typically about 20). Like the above-mentioned creme brulee, this dessert is very simple, as the layers are sweetened with vanilla pastry cream. On top, the cake is typically sprinkled with powdered sugar. That being said, modern bakeries are now adding delicious twists onto the classic, with fillings like Oreo, mango, chocolate banana, and green tea. One spot to have it is The Lobby in The Peninsula Paris Hotel (19 Avenue Kleber), where the Belle Epoque era decor matches the fanciness of the dessert.
Similar to this idea and more commonly found is the Mille Fuille, also known as a Napoleon. This dessert alternates between layers of pastry creme and light puff pastry, and is also topped with powdered sugar. Gerard Mulot (93 Rue de la Glaciere) is one Paris bakery to stop at for the treat, offering a delicious berry-infused option.
Many of us have had macarons before, although maybe not in Paris, where it's a whole different experience. The trick to these colorful stuffed meringue cookies is that they should be so delicate that they melt in your mouth, offering a contrast of textures from the crunchier shell to the creamier inside. If you stop at one place in Paris for this dessert, make it one of Pierre Herme's boutiques as the French pastry chef is famous for his unusual macaron flavors, like Yogurt & Lime Zest, Salted-Butter Caramel, Olive Oil and Vanilla with Green Olive, and Chocolate & Caramel with Gingerbread Spices.
While some may simply refer to this pastry as a cream puff, the delicious French Profiterole deserves more than just a simple name. Light pastry dough called choux pastry is filled with whipped cream - although in more modern times you may also see it filled with ice cream. To complete the culinary masterpiece, the dessert is gowned in a thick chocolate sauce. In Paris, you'll want to stop at Restaurant Perraudin (157 Rue Saint-Jacques), where it's drenched in hot bittersweet chocolate and sprinkled with almond slivers.
Looking for a French dessert that also meets your fruit requirements for the day? Clafoutis is an antioxidant-packed treat featuring a custard-like batter mixed with black cherries that is baked into a soft, almost eggy flan-like cake, with just a touch of flour added for some sturdiness. Clafoutis originated in Limousin, France, a region known for its succulent and sweet black cherries. Tip: If you hate pits make sure to ask if your dessert has them, as many bakers like to keep the fruit in its pure form for a stronger cherry flavor. For the best in Paris, look no further than Les Cocottes (135 rue Saint Dominique), where the fruit-studded Clafoutis is the menu highlight.
Which of these tasty desserts would you try first?