Still relishing those mid-summer Fourth of July festivities? Lucky for you, today marks another celebration of freedom – Bastille Day! Much like Independence Day to Americans, Bastille Day commemorates the start of the French Revolution, when unarmed peasants stormed the Bastille prison and armory. What better way to commemorate their victory than to pop open some champagne, pull out the Bocce set and whip up a few delectable French desserts the whole family will love?
A French Celebration
Dessert in France is as much a part of the country’s heritage as Bastille Day. On July 14, flags line the Champs-Elysees, fireworks light up the Eiffel Tower and families gather with friends to honor the establishment of their first constitution. Needless to say, the celebration includes tremendous amounts of wine, cheese and, of course, chocolate.
From chocolate mousse to crème brûlée, French desserts are the Audrey Hepburn of baking; they have an elegance all their own. There is as much sophistication as there is sweetness in every bite. In this culture, food is to be savored, and each meal is planned with intention, creativity and attitude.
French Dessert Characteristics
In fact, the French consider cooking to be as artistic as painting, and it isn’t all about taste. While it’s true, the French have panache for pairing the richness of crème with the bittersweet tang of dark chocolate, the aroma and the presentation are equally as important. That’s what makes French food, especially desserts, so luscious– they appeal to all the senses. Traditional French desserts have several distinct qualities:
- Light and fluffy, filled with air like meringue and mousse.
- Complex, like cakes layered with caramel or heavenly macaroons filled with coconut and dipped in chocolate.
- Creamy and rich, relying heavily on dairy and eggs, such as crème brûlée.
- Flaky, as in delicious French pastries like éclairs or with a savory crunch like chocolate truffle cookies.
Create Your Own!
On Bastille Day, transform yourself into a French pastry chef and kick-start your celebration with Clabber Girl’s mouth-watering Crepes Chantilly. This extra special treat is a delicate and delicious French-style pancake filled with sweet fruit and decadent crème. The thin cake is dressed up with strawberries and layered with whipped topping, creating a flavorful treat perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Another sweet filling of choice is peanut butter and banana slices – maybe even with a drizzle of chocolate!
For a twist, experiment with savory flavor combinations like sun-dried tomato and pesto with grilled chicken, or spinach, bacon and mushroom. With a little creativity and practice, you’ll develop crepe-making skills that everyone in the family will appreciate.
So do as the French do, and bon appétit!