We all know of French Cuisine and its complex dishes, but France is also a country of many sweet treats. In fact, almost every region of France has its own traditional candy! From confit fruits to salted butter caramel, France has something for everyone with a sweet tooth. Here are ten French delicacies that will instantly put you in a good mood!
1 - Nonnettes de Dijon
The nonnette is a small gingerbread-based cake, filled with orange marmalade and lightly coated with honey. A recognized specialty of Dijon and Burgundy, it is now found all over France and in specialty French stores around the world. In the Middle Ages, the nuns made this cake in their monastery, which explains its name. This specialty was frequently sold to travelers on stagecoaches and then trains in the 19th century.
Today, you can buy Nonnettes with flavors other than orange marmalade, like caramel, chocolate, lemon, raspberry, and more. Still, we recommend you try the original recipe as it is how nonnettes were meant to be enjoyed!
2 - Calissons d’Aix
The calisson is a specialty of Provencal cuisine consisting of candied melon fruit paste (or other candied fruits) and almonds crushed together, covered with royal icing on a background of unleavened bread in the shape of a shuttle. Often flavored with orange blossom, this delicacy is undoubtedly the emblematic Provencal traditional treat. It has been a specialty of Aix-en-Provence since the 15th century!
Calissons are so strongly associated with Aix-en-Provence and southern France that most of the world’s supply still comes from this region of France. But if you also want to enjoy one without booking your flight to Marseilles, don’t worry! Best of France has you covered and you can enjoy some with us on our shop.
3 - Nougat de Montélimar
The nougat is a typical candy of the Mediterranean basin countries. It can be white (with egg white) or black (without egg white). The most famous French variant, the Nougat of Montélimar, is composed of almonds, honey, sugar, and egg whites, which is responsible for the traditional whitish color of the nougat. Since then, there have been many flavored nougats: nougat with candied fruits (lemon, orange, citron, fig, walnut, chestnut, strawberry, blueberry), with plants (lavender), or even chocolate. There are options for any taste!
Not anyone can make Nougat de Montélimar: there are requirements for the origin of your products and the quantity you use in your recipe. You must meet all the requirements to call your treat a true Nougat de Montélimar. But if you also want to enjoy one without having to make them yourself, we’ve got you covered.
4 - Breton Cookies
There are two unique kinds of cookies you will find in Brittany: galettes and palets. Both are specialties that show Brittany’s mastery and love of butter and baking! Today, they are sold all over France as an afternoon snack to lift your spirits. Let’s introduce you to both of these delicious Breton biscuits.
The galette bretonne is a shortbread cookie made in Brittany. The origin of the galettes is not certain: most people believe they date back to 1890, and the recipe has remained unchanged since then! Today, many Breton cookie factories make them, such as Filet Bleu or Saint-Michel. They are sold all over France and in specialty stores in Europe. Many bakeries also make their own galette bretonne in house, especially in the home region of Brittany.
The palet breton is a dry cookie in shortcrust pastry. It is thick, about 1.5 cm, and contains on average 20% semi-salted butter and vanilla sugar. Its name comes from the game of pallets, whose metal elements are the inspiration for the shape of the cookie.
If you want to enjoy either (or both!) of these Breton specialties, you can count on us and buy some now!
5 - Salted Butter Caramel
The salted butter caramel is another typical gastronomic specialty of Brittany.
This soft caramel, which has the particularity of being made with salted butter, has been known since 1946 in recipe books and as a delicacy sold by various confectioneries in Brittany, especially in Morbihan. Its fame grew at the end of the 1970s when Henri Le Roux invented a salted butter caramel and hazelnut candy and successfully marketed it in Paris.
Winning numerous awards, his creation made the Breton salted butter caramel candy popular, which became in the 1980s and 1990s the typical Breton delicacy appreciated by tourists. Nowadays, it is a sweet souvenir of childhood for many French people. It even has many different variants: you can buy salted butter caramel spreads and ice cream!
If you also want to experience a sweet moment with this rich delicacy, Best of France has what you need in our shop.
6 - Bêtises de Cambrai
Bêtises de Cambrai is a French boiled candy made in the city of Cambrai. "Bêtise" means "stupid mistake" in French. This name reflects the story of these candies. It is said that they were invented by accident by the son of a candy maker when he accidentally added mint to a candy recipe and modified the dough in an attempt to hide his mistake. The original flavor is mint, but many others are now available. Some also have a small strip of caramel to add a little sweetness. Two companies, Afchain and Despinoy, disputed the paternity of the invention, which led to a trial and an unusual compromise in 1889: Afchain was recognized as the "sole inventor" and Despinoy as the "creator".
7 - Biscuits Roses de Reims
Originally from Reims, the Pink Reims Biscuit is a rectangular pink cookie that is supposed to be dipped in... champagne! The cookie was created around 1690 in Reims, a city located at the heart of the famous Champagne region. A baker wanted to take advantage of the warmth of the bread oven between two batches, so he had an idea: create a special dough and bake it twice, hence the name"biscuit" or "bis-cuit" meaning "twice baked" in French. Initially, the cookie was white. In order to flavor it, a vanilla bean was introduced into the recipe, but this left brown traces on the cookie. To mask his mistake, the baker decided to add a natural color based on cochineal, a scarlet dye. From this sequence of events was born the Biscuit Rose de Reims.
8 - Pâte de Fruits d’Auvergne
The middle of the 15th century saw the first mentions of fruit jellies being made around Clermont-Ferrand. They are known under the name of "pâtes d'Auvergne", referring to the Auvergne region in central France.
This fruit paste is a confectionery obtained from fruits cooked with sugar and possibly pectin. Cast in a mold or cut into squares or rectangles, it is originally a method of preserving the flesh of the fruit, hence its original name of "dry jam"! There are many types of fruit pastes, the most common being quince, apricot, apple, and citrus. However, you will find almost any flavor in France!
If you want a taste of this ancient treat without traveling across the Atlantic to the old continent, don't worry! Best of France has a large offer of French sweets.
9 - Coussins de Lyon
In 1643, during the plague epidemic that ravaged the city, the aldermen of Lyon organized a procession on the hill of Fourvière to implore the Virgin to spare the city. In doing so, they offered a candle weighing more than 3 kilograms and a golden shield presented on a silk cushion. This silk cushion is the one that inspired the creation of the Coussin de Lyon!
In 1960, some silk workers imagined a box reminiscent of the shape and appearance of the historical silk cushion. The chocolate maker Voisin, established in Lyon since 1897, took up the idea of using the shape of the cushion to create his confectionery. Quickly famous in the city, it gradually became France's most renowned ganache treat!
10 - Macarons de Paris
No matter where you are in the world, Macarons need no introduction. Though there are many different types of Macarons - cities like Nancy or Sault have completely different recipes - it is the Parisian treat that conquered the world. The Parisian macaroon was born in the 19th century. It consists of a heart of buttercream, jam, or compote spread between two egg-white and coconut shells. It has been sold since 1880 and was popularized in Paris by the Pons tea room, now taken over by the Dalloyau descendants. Ladurée then introduced the famous pastel tones that indicate their perfume. Known worldwide as a true symbol of charm and luxury in the French style, you can even find them in Vancouver in some specialty French patisseries.
Keep reading our blog for more articles about the best of what France has to offer, including lovely styling tips, delicious recipes, and great wine guides!