6 Chef-Approved Easy French Desserts

These classic French dessert recipes may look and taste fancy, but they aren't nearly as difficult to make as you'd imagine.

Updated December 29, 2023
raspberry madeleines

If you want a dessert that looks fancy but isn't super hard to make, these chef-developed easy French dessert recipes will fit the brief. They may taste and look like you've spent all day in the kitchen, but we won't tell that they were relatively simple to do. They're perfect for impressing family and friends with a classic dessert that'll satisfy everyone's sweet tooth. 



A traditional Napoleon is a layered dessert that consists of baked puff pastry, pastry cream, and ganache. Also known as the mille-feuille, the Napoleon is a French dessert of unknown origin that dates back to before the 16th century. Using pre-made frozen puff pastry and instant pudding, you can make this traditional dish quickly and easily.


  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry the size of a cookie sheet
  • 1 package instant vanilla pudding, prepared according to package instructions
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 8 ounces heavy cream
  • 4 ounces white chocolate chips, melted
  • Raspberries for garnish


  1. Thaw the puff pastry on your counter for several hours.
  2. Roll the puff pastry out to the size of your cookie sheet.
  3. Let the pastry rest in your fridge for 30 minutes.
  4. While the pastry is resting, make the vanilla pudding according to the package directions.
  5. Let the pudding rest in the refrigerator.
  6. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  7. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
  8. Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat.
  9. Once the cream starts to simmer, pour it over the chocolate and stir with a whisk until smooth to make the ganache.
  10. Prick the surface of the puff pastry with a fork.
  11. Place a sheet of parchment paper over the pastry.
  12. Place a second cookie sheet on top of the pastry.
  13. Bake for 10 minutes.
  14. Remove the top cookie sheet and bake for 10 more minutes, until lightly golden brown.
  15. Remove from the oven and let cool.
  16. Cut the cooled puff pastry into thirds widthwise.
  17. Spread a layer of vanilla pudding over one of the puff pastry rectangles.
  18. Place a second puff pastry layer over the pudding.
  19. Spread a layer of pudding over the second pastry.
  20. Place the final puff pastry on the pudding layer.
  21. Pour the ganache over the Napoleon.
  22. Melt white chocolate chips and drizzle in lines over the ganache. Use a toothpick to drag the white chocolate into a zigzag pattern.
  23. Place in your refrigerator and let set, at least one hour.
  24. Garnish with raspberries. 

The Most Perfect Cookie

We've got two types of madeleines for you — chocolate and regular. You'll love these tasty French cookie-cakes, but you'll need a madeleine pan with its distinctive shell-shaped molds. 




  • ⅔ cup butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • Powdered sugar to garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Grease and flour your madeleine pan or, if using a non-stick pan, give it a good spray with non-stick spray.
  3. Melt the butter and then let it cool to room temperature.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, adding the confectioners' sugar slowly.
  5. Continue beating until the mixture is thick and pale.
  6. Add the lemon zest.
  7. Sift the flour with the baking powder.
  8. Gently fold the flour mixture into the eggs.
  9. Add the melted butter and mix well.
  10. Using a spoon, fill the molds ⅔ of the way full.
  11. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.
  12. Remove from the mold and let cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before the madeleines cool.

Chocolate Madeleines

chocolate madeleines


  • 2 eggs, separated
  • ⅔ cup all purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ⅜ cup sugar (¼ cup plus ⅛ cup)
  • ¾ cup butter
  • ⅛ cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat.
  2. Remove from the heat and let it cool.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and cocoa powder.
  4. Beat the yolks slightly and then add them to the flour mixture.
  5. Combine thoroughly.
  6. Beat the egg whites slightly.
  7. Add them to the yolk and flour mixture.
  8. Add the butter and vanilla extract.
  9. Whisk to combine.
  10. Let the batter rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  11. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  12. Spoon 1 tablespoon of batter into each of the madeleine molds.
  13. Bake for 4 minutes.
  14. Reduce heat in oven to 375°F and continue to bake for another 4 minutes.
  15. While the madeleines cool, turn the oven back to 425°F in preparation for the next batch.
Helpful Hack

The falling oven temperature (going from 425°F to 375°F) allows the insides of the cookies to properly cook while the outsides become crisp.



Clafoutis is a custard-like baked dessert made by baking fruit, usually cherries, in a batter. You can use other fruits, like blueberries or raspberries for a delicious seasonal dessert. 


  • 1¼ cups milk
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ cup flour
  • 3 cups fresh cherries, pitted
  • ⅓ cup sugar for sprinkling on the cherries
  • Powdered sugar for garnish


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix together the milk, first measure of sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
  3. Add the salt and flour and mix until well combined.
  4. Pour ¼ of the batter into an 8-cup oven-safe baking dish or 9x9 baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.
  5. Bake for 3 to 5 minutes until a light film develops on the batter.
  6. Remove from the oven and spread the cherries over the batter.
  7. Sprinkle the second measure of sugar over the cherries.
  8. Pour the rest of the batter over the cherries.
  9. Bake for 45 minutes.
  10. It's done when the batter is puffy and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  11. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Crème Renversée

creme caramel

Crème renversée looks very impressive when you serve it, but if you can make a simple syrup and a simple custard, you can put this together with ease. It's the perfect dessert for crème caramel and flan lovers. This recipe makes six 5-ounce desserts, so you will need six 5-ounce ramekins.


  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • ½ cup water
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 vanilla bean


  1. Place the ¾ cup of sugar, light corn syrup, and water into a saucepan and place over a medium-high heat.
  2. Cook to a medium amber color.
  3. Remove from the heat and let cool for a minute or two.
  4. Pour the caramel into the bottom of the ramekins.
  5. Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds out.
  6. Place the milk and a teaspoon of the remaining sugar in a saucepan with the scraped vanilla seeds and vanilla pods.
  7. Place over a medium-low flame and bring to a simmer.
  8. Whisk eggs and remaining sugar together in a heatproof bowl.
  9. Once the milk is quickly simmering, remove from the heat.
  10. While whisking the eggs, pour a small amount of the scalded milk into the eggs to temper them.
  11. Pour the eggs in a thin stream into the scalded milk while whisking.
  12. Strain into a bowl through a fine-mesh sieve.
  13. Pour into the ramekins.
  14. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  15. Place the ramekins into a roasting pan and place the roasting pan into the oven.
  16. Pour water into the roasting pan until it reaches halfway up the ramekins.
  17. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes.
  18. You will know that the custard is ready when the sides are set and the center is a bit wobbly.
  19. Remove from oven and let it come to room temperature.
  20. Chill overnight.

Apple Tarte Tatin

tarte tatin

Tarte tatin is a traditional upside-down fruit tart. Using pre-made puff pastry makes this an easy dessert that's super delicious. 


  • 3 ounces butter
  • 8 ounces sugar
  • 3 pounds cooking apples, like Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into wedges
  • 1 (9-inch) puff pastry round


  1. Place a heavy 10-inch oven-safe skillet (like a cast iron skillet) over medium heat.
  2. Place the butter into the pan and let it melt.
  3. Cover the melted butter with an even layer of sugar.
  4. Place the apple wedges standing on end around the edge of the pan.
  5. Arrange the remaining apple wedges around the center of the pan.
  6. Cook the apples over medium heat until the apples are soft, about 30 minutes.
  7. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
  8. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  9. Lay the puff pastry over the apples.
  10. Bake for 35 minutes until the pastry is light golden brown.
  11. Let the tart cool to room temperature.
  12. Invert onto a platter.

French Desserts Made Easy

We don't blame you for wanting to fancy it up from time to time, but who has all day to spend in the kitchen? Not us! That's why we like these easy French desserts. They're classically sweet and super satisfying, but they won't take all day to make. 

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6 Chef-Approved Easy French Desserts