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10 Iconic French Bakery Classics

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Looking for a satisfying weekend project? You could scarcely do better than one of these iconic French breads, pastries and cookies. Master these 10 recipes and you’ll be ready to open your own patisserie.

  • Recipe

    Chocolate-Glazed Éclairs

    Most of the components of this pastry-shop classic—the pâte à choux shells, the vanilla pastry cream filling, and the chocolate glaze—can be made well in advance. For the final assembly, all you need to do is lighten the pastry cream with whipped cream, spoon the mixture into the pastry shells, and glaze with chocolate.

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  • Recipe

    Classic Croissants

    Making your own croissants is not difficult; there's no special equipment or hard-to-find ingredients required. What is necessary is good technique. Once you understand the basics of creating multilayered dough like this, you're well on your way to wowing your friends with delicious croissants.

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  • Recipe

    Honey-Spiced Madeleines

    This is not your typical madeleine, nor Proust's either. Although it's based on the classic (see the variation below), it's my own invention, created to be served over the holidays, when spices like ginger, cinnamon, and cloves are most appreciated in both France and America. Like traditional madeleines, these are baked in shell-shaped molds and require a light hand when folding in the flour and butter. And they can be prepared ahead, even spooned into the molds, and baked à la minute, so that you can serve the little cakes warm.

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  • Recipe

    Asparagus and Goat Cheese Quiche

    Tender asparagus and tangy goat cheese make a classic quiche filling, perfect for a springtime brunch.

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  • Recipe

    Hazelnut-Almond Dacquoise

    Dacquoise refers to both the baked meringue layers within the cake and the composed cake itself. First, you make a light meringue and quickly and gently fold in hazelnut and almond flour. Then you pipe three long rectangles of the meringue onto a baking sheet and bake them in a slow oven overnight, so they dry out and get crispy. Finally, a creamy espresso buttercream that tastes like soft coffee ice cream and a chocolate ganache filling are sandwiched between the layers.

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  • Recipe

    French Macarons

    ndescribable. Cookie royalty. Unlike American macaroons dense with coconut, French macarons (pronounced mah-kah-ROHN) are pillowy soft, sweet, ethereal, ever-so-slightly chewy yet melt-in-your mouth almond sandwich cookies. Part of the magic involves an overnight rest that allows the cookies to merge with their moist fillings.

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  • Recipe

    Brioche

    True brioche—the classic French yeast bread that’s rich and golden with butter and eggs, boasting a paper-thin crust and a silky, tender crumb—is a rare and wonderful thing. But as special as it is, brioche isn’t difficult to make.

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  • Recipe

    Caramel Cream Puffs

    These are not your typical cream puffs. Instead of a vanilla pastry cream, they are filled with a silky caramel cream that is rich and utterly delicious. A dusting of confectioners’ sugar is the only garnish required. You'll need a pastry bag with small, medium, and large plain tips.

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  • Recipe

    Cheese Sablés

    These crackers are great with drinks and go especially well with dry and off-dry sparkling wines. The dough keeps for two days in the fridge, and for months in the freezer (thaw it in the fridge before using).

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  • Recipe

    Fresh Fruit Tart

    This jewel-like fruit tart actually tastes as good as it looks, thanks to a light, creamy pastry cream and a tender pâte sucrée shell.

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