10 Top Classic French Dessert Recipes

From light and fruity to decadent chocolate, there's a recipe for every palette

We all have our favorite go-to desserts for dinner parties, casual guests, and cozy family dinners. From light fruit flavors to dense, dark chocolate, there's a delicious recipe for every palette and these authentic French desserts are no different. France is renowned for its wonderful desserts and pastries--in fact, we wouldn't have the word dessert if it weren't for the French word desservir, meaning to un-serve the main components of the meal. It wasn't long before dessert became an essential and decadent end to every dinner.  

Whether you're looking to learn a new cooking technique or simply want to add a touch of France to your meal, these 10 authentic recipes are the perfect introduction to traditional French desserts that your whole family will enjoy.

  • 01 of 10

    Pears Belle Helene

    poires belle helene
    Poires Belle Helene French Pear Dessert.

    Getty Images

    This classic French dessert is punched up with the essence of cinnamon. The ease of preparation and beautiful presentation make this dish a great selection for dinner parties.

  • 02 of 10

    Apple Tarte Tatin

    tarte tatin
    French Tarte Tatin.

    Ben Monk/Getty Images

    Adding a touch of lemon zest and spice really perks up this classically delicious apple tarte Tatin. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or Chantilly cream to the dessert for a rich after-dinner treat.

  • 03 of 10

    Cherry Clafoutis

    Cherry Clafoutis
    Cherry Clafoutis. Regis Vincent

    This cherry clafoutis recipe, also know as Clafouti aux Cerises, is the most well-known version of the traditional puffed French custard cake. In France, it is customary to serve clafoutis with cherry pits intact, so be sure to warn your guests if you choose to include. 

  • 04 of 10

    Babas au Rhum

    Rum Baba
    Rum Baba.

    Owen Franken/Getty Images

    Babas au Rhum are lovely yeast-risen cakes studded with dried fruit and soaked in hot rum syrup. Once the darling of French cuisine, they fell out of favor, but they're now back and better than ever.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Orangettes

    orangettes
    Orangettes.

    Emrah Turudu/Getty Images

    Orangettes are strips of candied orange peel dipped in dark chocolate. They are a delicious treat that makes a lovely gift when wrapped in a little cellophane and pretty ribbon. With only four ingredients, this simple recipe is easy to customize and double depending on your needs. 

  • 06 of 10

    Chocolate Mousse

    Chocolate Mousse
    Chocolate Mousse.

    Laurence Mouton/Getty Images

    Chocolate mousse is the quintessential romantic French dessert made so quickly and easily, what's not to like? Just carefully mix together the five ingredients before chilling for an easy no-fuss dessert you'll want to make again and again.

  • 07 of 10

    Crème au Caramel

    creme caramel
    French Creme Caramel.

    Jose A. Bernat Bacete/Getty Images

    Crème au caramel is a silky decadent dessert that's perfect for any occasion. The crème can be made up to one day in advance, making your next dessert even easier.

  • 08 of 10

    Lemon Tart

    Lemon Tart
    Tarte au Citron. Getty Images

    This quintessential French tart can be found at patisseries and cafes year-round. Cool, sharp lemon filling contrasts nicely with the flaky, slightly sweet pastry. A little dollop of Chantilly cream served with the dessert makes this an ideal treat.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Classic French Opera Cake

    French Opera Cake
    Classic French Opera Cake.

    Riou, Jean-Christophe/Getty Images

    Layers of light almond sponge cake, coffee buttercream, and dark chocolate ganache make this luscious cake recipe a show-stopping dessert.

  • 10 of 10

    Breton Butter Cake

    Breton Butter Cake
    Breton Butter Cake.

    Guy Thouvenin/robertharding/Getty Images

    This Breton butter cake is a classic dessert in Brittany. Rich with butter and sugar, this cake needs no adornment whatsoever, although berries or whipped cream make for a special treat.