10 Parisian cakes & pastries

Mille-feuille, Paris-Brest, macarons, opera… just some of the delicious cakes and pastries you can enjoy in Paris!

A gourmet city renowned for its delicious recipes, Paris has some exquisite mouthwatering treats! Chouquettes, financiers and macarons make up a delectable landscape just waiting to be explored. To truly savour your stay, let yourself to be tempted by these irresistible cakes and pastries!

Saint-honoré

Saint-honoré (pâtisserie) © Kimberly Vardeman via Flickr

Named after the patron saint of bakers and pastry chefs, the Saint-Honoré consists of a round choux pastry base onto which are set several small choux pastries filled with butter cream. The centre of the cake is filled with Chantilly or Chiboust cream.

Chouquettes (sugar puffs)

Chouquette © Little Daan via Flickr

Soft and incredibly light, this delicacy dates back to the sixteenth century when choux pastry was invented by Catherine de Medici’s Italian pastry chef at the French court. Chouquettes are light, fluffy and sprinkled with crunchy pearl sugar. Devoured by the dozen, they are a favourite tea-time treat.

Opera cake

Opéra (pâtisserie) © Ralph Daily via Flickr

As smooth and symmetrical as the stage of the Opéra Garnier, this exquisite dessert has been a favourite with food-lovers since 1955. It may be a more recent invention than the other classic Parisian pastry-cakes, but it’s every bit as delicious: an almond sponge cake layered with coffee butter cream and ganache, and topped with a rich chocolate glaze which more than merits its gold leaf decoration.

Mille-feuille (vanilla cream slice)

Mille-feuille © Georges Seguin via Wikimedia Commons

Crisp and creamy, the mille-feuille is a treat no self-respecting Parisian can resist! Invented in 1867 in a pastry-shop in the 7th district, this inimitable cake is made of alternate layers of fine puff pastry and pastry cream. Those with a really sweet tooth will save the best part for last: the generous topping of chocolate-drizzled sugar icing.

Religieuse

Religieuse au chocolat © Fotolia

A small cream-filled choux pastry placed on top of a larger one, the two joined together by a ‘collar’ of butter cream and covered in chocolate or coffee icing, the religieuse is a favourite with Parisians of all ages. It was invented in 1856 at the famous Frascati café on the boulevard Montmartre.

Tarte Bourdaloue (French pear tart)

Tarte Bourdaloue © Traaf via Flickr

With its pastry base and frangipane filling, cream and delicious poached fruit, the tarte Bourdaloue is the queen of Parisian cakes. Invented in the rue Bourdaloue, between the Pigalle and Opéra districts, this famous French pear tart is enough to make even a reluctant gourmet’s mouth water.

Financier

Financiers © DR via Pixabay

In the stock exchange district in Paris, in about 1890, a pastry chef named Lasne adapted a traditional recipe and created the financier: a small cake made with butter and almond flour. Cream was not an ingredient, so you could eat it without getting sticky fingers – much to the delight of the busy bank-workers! Further reflecting its origins, the shape of these cakes is said to represent a gold bar.

Macarons

Macarons  © Miwork via Flickr

These colourful, dainty little confections will simply melt in your mouth! They come in an infinite variety of flavours, from pistachio, chocolate or hazelnut to rose-water, Parma violet, red berries or citrus fruit. Some of the most famous houses, such as Ladurée, Pierre Hermé or Dalloyau have made it their speciality.

Paris-Brest

Paris Brest, Le Mesturet restaurant, Paris © DR

In the shape of a wheel, it’s named after a famous bicycle race! In the early twentieth century the Paris-Brest race inspired Louis Durand, a pastry chef based in the Paris region, to create what would become a mythical pastry-cake. With its delicious praline-flavoured cream filling, the Paris-Brest can be found in all the best Parisian pastry-shops.

Mocha cake

Moka © DR via Pixabay

It’s on Paris’s west bank, a stone’s throw from the Île de la Cité, that we find the first traces of the mochacake. A key feature of this rich desert is the swirled coffee cream decoration, achieved using an icing nozzle. Made of alternate layers of coffee cream and sponge cake, it is named after the port of Mocha in Yemen, from where coffee was exported to Europe by the shipload.


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