It’s no secret that I have an affinity for France and its culture. Having spent a significant portion of my life in France, and mastering the French language, only solidifies my favoritism. One thing which I have found the French done exceptionally well is mastering the culinary arts beautifully. From their breads to their meals to their desserts, they always manage to take decadence to another level. When it comes to indulging and wreaking havoc on your diet, nothing beats the French desserts. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself salivating during your read. Here are my favorites.
I’ve had many versions of this dish in my life, but nothing beats the authentic fare you find in France. After a hearty meal, I often find myself scouring the dessert pages for this particular option. Often the most widely recognizable French dessert, crème brûlée is the perfect blend of richness with a punch of understated flavor. The delicious dish consists of a rich custard base topped with a contrasting top layer of crunchy brûléed sugar. While it is traditionally flavored with vanilla, you can always opt for a more adventurous route and enjoy everything from coffee to green tea flavored crème brûlée. With a melt in your mouth texture, you can’t help but savor every bite.
While this dessert pales in decadence when compared to some, I can’t help but add these to the list. Easily identifiable by their shell-like shapes, madeleines are the quintessential French dessert. Lighter than air and created from genoise cake batter, the sponge cake offers a distinctly pronounced lemon taste. It is the perfect pairing for a cappuccino or as a sweet note after a heavy meal. Without a dollop of cream madeleines are the perfect way to sweeten the day without going overboard. Now this is a cyclist’s dessert.
Mocha pots de crème
This rich, pudding-like chocolate confectionary invention is a perfect cap to a romantic meal. You know that sweet, melt-in-your-mouth texture inside certain chocolate truffles? That’s ganache, and the chocolate mocha pots de crème is basically a soft, coffee-flavored chocolate ganache topped with thickened cream and dusted with cocoa. Who wouldn’t enjoy this dissolving taste of heaven?
What I love most about macarons is the large variety of flavors in which they can be made. This sweet treat is a meringue-based confection and is commonly filled with ganache, butter cream or a jam filling sandwiched between two “biscuits”. I’ve enjoyed many macarons in my life. So easily devoured, and yet so perfectly satisfying, you can indulge without feeling weighed down. I can’t tell you how many time I have left a coffee shop, sweetly satisfied, yet ready to tackle a hard ride. The best dessert for any cyclist!
I know, as a cyclist, we’re told to watch what we eat… but sometimes I just can’t help it! If you’re going to be bad, you should be bad the right way. That’s why I love profiteroles. Also known as choux a la crème, the profiterole is a French dessert made of a pastry ball filled with whipped cream, pastry cream or even ice cream. Often garnished with chocolate sauce, caramel or a dusting of powdered sugar, these desserts are the epitome of French decadence. So rich, creamy, and filling, they should not be missed!
Many people consider the crêpe to be too simple a dessert for this list. What do I have to say to them? It’s not simply the crêpe but how you serve the crêpe that makes the dessert. A thin, light pancake-like dish, you can pair crêpes with the most sinfully decadent toppings (think rich dark chocolate, whipped crème, ice cream and berries). The texture of the crêpe also perfectly soaks up the flavors of what it is mixed with, making each bite drip with flavor. The best part, if you’re in France, crêpes are so readily available you’ll just have to dig in.
A soufflé refers to a light, airy dish that holds its shape but isn’t too stiff. Some feel best way to truly savor a soufflé is to puncture the top and fill it with warm chocolate. I, however, enjoy the ice cream soufflé which pairs a soufflé with ice cream and a hot, rich sauce. A mouth-watering blend of textures and temperatures.
Similar to the crème brûlée, the crème caramel is also a custard dessert. The difference is that it is topped with a layer of soft caramel. Often garnished however the chef sees fit, the crème caramel makes one delicious dessert. Small and flavorful, the dessert is not too heavy or overwhelming. If you don’t have too much of a sweet tooth, the crème caramel will surely satisfy.
Andy Levine is the President/Founder of DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co.