14 Classic French Holiday Dessert Recipes

Verdina Anna/Getty Images

These French holiday dessert recipes are the impressive icing on the cake, so to speak, for an already wonderful holiday menu. These classic favorites range from simple sweets and easy baked goods to elaborate traditional French fare. There's something here to fit every winter holiday menu.

Most of the recipes are too good to save for just one day, use them for any celebrations, the French do.

  • 01 of 14

    Croquembouche Recipe

    Stunning Croquembouche. Brian Hagiwara - Getty Images

    Croquembouche is a traditional French wedding cake, it is also served for special occasions and for the holidays. The traditional croquembouche recipe is made with vanilla pastry cream and decorated with sugared almonds. Modern croquembouches are made with creative pastry cream flavors and decorated with flowers, sugar art, and even melted chocolate.

  • 02 of 14

    Opera Cake Recipe

    Classic French Opera Cake. Riou, Jean-Christophe - Getty Images

    You must agree, for a celebration or holiday dessert that this opera cake recipe is well worth the time investment. Layers of light almond sponge cake, coffee buttercream, and dark chocolate ganache make it the showstopping dessert.

  • 03 of 14

    Classic French Madeleine Recipe

    Madeleines. Verdina Anna/Getty Images

     Madeleines are simply the classic of the French small bakes, the delightful little cakes deserve to be at every celebration and of course, Christmas. Include them with a little chocolate and you hit the jackpot.

  • 04 of 14

    French Almond Macarons French Recipe

    French Macarons. sodapix sodapix - Getty Images

    There is no better way to truly celebrate than with a plate of delicious Almond Macarons. They are one of the prettiest confections and also utterly delicous. What is not to like?

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  • 05 of 14

    Chocolate Buche de Noel Recipe

    Buche de Noel. Clive Bozzard-Hill - Getty Images

    The first Christmas yule log cake, or buche de Noel, recipe was cleverly created in the late 1800s by a French pastry chef looking to replace and pay culinary homage to the original yule log tradition. This new, gastronomic tradition caught on in spectacular fashion, and the Christmas dessert is now celebrated worldwide. 

  • 06 of 14

    Speculaas Recipe

    Christmas Spiced Cookies
    Christmas Spiced Cookies - Speculaas. Getty Images

    Irresistibly fragrant, this speculaas recipe makes a crispy, not-too-sweet cookie that begs to be dipped in coffee. The varied blend of aromatic spices in this recipe creates the signature flavor by which Belgian speculaas cookies have been known for centuries. 

  • 07 of 14

    Creme au Caramel Recipe

    Creme Caramel
    Classic French Creme Caramel. svariophoto - Getty Images

    Creme au caramel, also known as creme caramel, is a wonderful dessert recipe for dinner parties. Not only is the flavor mellow, sophisticated, and versatile; this bistro classic can be made up to one day in advance. Served in an impressive pool of homemade caramel, it needs no garnish other than an attractive plate.

  • 08 of 14

    Dark Chocolate Truffles Recipe

    Dark Chocolate Truffles
    Classic French Dark Chocolate Truffles. Vladimir Shulevsky - Getty Images

    Soft melting dark chocolate ganache lavishly dusted with cocoa powder is a treat unlike no other. These French dark chocolate truffles are the epitome of that treat, and once tasted will never be forgotten. This dark chocolate truffles recipe is so delicious, so flavorful, that they require eating slowly.

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  • 09 of 14

    Lemon Tart Recipe

    Lemon Tart
    Tarte au Citron. Getty Images

    This is the quintessential French tart, found at patisseries and cafes year-round and is especially good for holiday times.  Cool, sharp lemon filling contrasts nicely with the flaky, slightly sweet pastry. A little dollop of Chantilly cream served with the dessert makes the ideal treat.

  • 10 of 14

    Candied Chestnuts Recipe

    candied chestnuts
    Candied Chestnuts. Jose A. Bernat Bacete - Getty Images

    If chestnuts roasting over a crackling fire are evocative of happy times and holidays, then candied chestnuts are their luxurious cousins, served only as the most indulgent of treats. So beloved is the flavor in France, that the Berthillon Glacier in Paris usually sells out of their dreamy marron glacé within hours. 

  • 11 of 14

    Apple Cider Pound Cake Recipe

    Apple Cider Bundt Cake
    Apple Cider Pound Cake. Paul Poplis - Getty Images

    Take one bite of this apple cider pound cake recipe and you'll be transported to the orchard country of Normandy. This deliciously spiced quatre quarts cake was, in fact,  inspired by a drive on La Route des Cidres, in Quebec  which, like Normandy,  is dotted with apple orchards, cider houses, and picturesque inns. 

  • 12 of 14

    Individual Chocolate Souffles Recipe

    Chocolate Souffle. Diana Miller

    The best first French recipes to learn must be a simple chocolate soufflé. The soufflé is a magical, airy, delicious, and complex confection that perfectly rounds out any meal. Served fresh out of the oven, it delights young children through to impressing your dinner guests.

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  • 13 of 14

    Poached Pears

    Ruby Red Poached Pears
    Ruby Red Poached Pears. beyhan yazar - Getty Images

    Poached pears make for an exceptional, appealing dessert. This recipe showcases fresh pears poached in wine syrup until they turn buttery soft and a gorgeous, ruby red color. Delicious. 

  • 14 of 14

    Eggs in Snow Recipe

    oeufs a la neige
    Eggs on Snow - Oeufs a la Neige - Ile Flottante. Dr. Heinz Linke - Getty Images

    This particular treat of Oeufs a la Neige or Eggs in Snow as they are known makes an elegant presentation for your holiday festivities yet are not overly heavy after a full meal.