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Photo above: Mathilde with yummy french sweets working in a bakery in Montauban, France.
France is known for its excellent cuisine, especially when it comes to sweets. Fruit tarts, crepes, crème brûlées, éclairs, chocolate croissants, brioches, gateaux, and many other wonderful sweets can be found in nearly every village and city throughout the country.
Some of France’s best sweets come from its mountainous regions of the Pyrénées and the Alps. These desserts often utilize local products and are extremely rich to provide extra energy for people living cold mountain climates. Listed below are my top 10 French mountain desserts that I’ve come to know and love during my travels in France. This week, I’ll be spending the holidays in France and will definitely be enjoying some of the amazing desserts on this list. Happy holidays! Or as we say in France, “Joyeuses fêtes!” Click the links below to see the recipes.
Chestnut and cognac Yule log (Bûche Mont-Blanc):
Yule logs, or “bûches” are the most common dessert for Christmas dinner in France. The “Bûche Mont-Blanc” originated from the Alps, using chestnuts produced in the region. This dessert can now be found in bakeries throughout France during Christmas time.
Sweet polenta fried in butter, specific to the Ariège region of the French Pyrénées. Often perfumed with orange flower water for extra taste.
Popular pastry in the Ariège region of the French Pyrénées. Usually filled with pears, apples or prunes.
Although this recipe originates from the Catalonian Pyrénées (Spain), it is also popular in the French Pyrénées. Fans of custard will love this dessert.
Brioche de Saint Genix:
This brioche originates from a small mountain village of Saint Genix in the French Alps. Pink pralines add wonderful color to this classic dessert.
These “french donuts” are common in French ski resorts. After a long day of skiing, these fatty and delicious treats are sure to restock your energy!
Gâteau de Savoie:
This like cake originated from the Savoie region of the French Alps. Starch, instead of flour, is used to create a more airy texture. The cake has its own specific mold, but a Bundt cake pan is a good replacement.
Les Pyrénées by Lindt:
This seasonal chocolate can be found in French supermarkets during Christmas time. Since their creation in 1927 by Swiss chocolatier and confectionery company, Lindt, these buttery chocolates have become a French Christmas favorite. The taste is similar to Lindt Lindor Truffles found in the US. They are best when chilled in the refrigerator.
This herbal liqueur is typically served with dessert at the end of a meal. The genepi is a common mountain plant found in the Alps and the taste is similar to chamomile with a touch of sweetness.
Blueberry Torte (Tourte aux Myrtilles):
This dessert is found in the Pyrénées and South of France. Blueberries, or myrtilles, are typical of the Pyrénées region and bring a wonderful flavor to this cake-like dessert. The texture is dense, like a coffee cake, and a particular mold is used to create its unique shape. A normal cake pan can also be used. See below my translation of a recipe for Tourte aux Myrtilles:
- 3 eggs
- 250g of flour
- 250g of sugar
- 75g of butter
- 7cl of milk
- 2 tsp of baking powder
- 7cl of dark rhum
- 100g of blueberries
- Preheat the oven to 300 F.
- Wash the blueberries.
- Butter and flour a Parisian brioche mold/other cake mold.
- Melt the butter over low heat. Warm the milk.
- Whisk the egg yolks with the melted and cooled butter. Add the sugar.
- Mix until the sugar is melted.
- Pour the warm milk little by little and mix well.
- Add the flour and baking powder (previously mixed), mix well with a spatula and add the rest.
- Beat the egg whites until stiff and gently incorporate them into the preparation.
- Finish by adding the blueberries (well thawed and drained if using frozen fruit).
- Pour the batter into the pan and bake for about 60 minutes.
- Check “doneness” with a toothpick.
Eat well, happy trail running and here’s to a great 2020!