14 Classic French Holiday Dessert Recipes

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These French holiday dessert recipes are the impressive icing on the cake, so to speak, for an already wonderful holiday menu. Classic and extremely popular, they 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 celebration, the way the French do.

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    Brian Hagiwara/Getty Images

    Croquembouche is a traditional French wedding cake that also is served for special occasions and for the holidays. The traditional croquembouche recipe is made cream puffs filled with vanilla pastry cream, assembled with caramel, and decorated with sugared almonds and spun sugar. 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

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

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    Classic French Madeleine Recipe

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     Madeleines are simply one of the classics of the French small bakes. They are delightful, buttery little cakes that deserve to be at every celebration and, of course, Christmas. Serve them with coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or even a glass of wine.

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    French Macarons

    French Macarons

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    There is no better way to truly celebrate than with a plate of delicious macarons made with almond flour and sandwiched together with a delectable filling. They are one of the prettiest confections and also utterly delicious.

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  • 05 of 14

    Chocolate Buche de Noel

    Buche de Noel

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    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


    Christmas Spiced Cookies - Speculaas
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    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. 

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    Creme au Caramel

    Classic French Creme Caramel

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    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.

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    Dark Chocolate Truffles

    Classic French Dark Chocolate Truffles

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    Soft 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

    Tarte au Citron
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    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.

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    Candied Chestnuts

    Candied Chestnuts

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    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. 

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    Apple Cider Pound Cake

    Apple Cider Pound Cake

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    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. 

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    Individual Chocolate Soufflés

    Chocolate Souffle
    Diana Miller

    Among the best French recipes for a beginner to learn is a simple chocolate soufflé. The soufflé is a magical, airy, and delicious confection that has complex flavors but is easy to prepare. Served fresh out of the oven, it complements any meal, delights young children, and thoroughly impresses your adult dinner guests.

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    Poached Pears

    Ruby Red Poached Pears

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    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.

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    Eggs in Snow

    oeufs a la neige

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    This particular treat of oeufs à la neige or eggs in the snow as they are known in English makes an elegant presentation for your holiday festivities yet are not overly heavy after a full meal.