9 Essential French Pastry Recipes Because We Are Not Afraid of Butter and Sugar

We love croissants. And macarons. And those adorable little brioche buns that look like they’re wearing top knots. But when it comes to whipping them up ourselves? That’s a different story. After all, French pastry is like your glamorous, jet-setting friend: you meet at the bistro, over coffee. You dine on the patio with a copy of Le Monde in hand — but never do you invite it home.

This time, though, we will not be daunted. We will not let a buttery, flaky confection cower us into submission. So with a dough scraper in hand and a rolling pin in the other, we’ve gathered the essential pastries we’ll master together. The good news? It’s easier than you think. Roll up your sleeves and get to work — Julia Child’s got nothing on us.

Image: Bake Noir

Plum Clafoutis

We’ll start you off easy with this summery clafoutis — a baked dessert that’s a cross between a Dutch baby and custard. Traditionally, it’s made with cherries, but A Pastry Affair whips hers up with plums.

Image: A Pastry Affair

Chocolate Pots de Crème

Call it mousse. Call it custard. But whatever you do, don’t call it pudding. This airy, chocolaty confection from Green Kitchen Stories is just seven ingredients — whisk, bake, and devour.

Image: Green Kitchen Stories

Orange-Scented Palmiers

Don’t be fooled by all the delicate, pretty layers: this crisp cookie calls for just puff pastry, sugar, and orange zest. Bonus points if you make your own pastry — but frozen’s just as good. We won’t tell. Thanks, Hummingbird High!

Image: Hummingbird High

Raspberry Meringue Mille Feuille

If you have leftover puff pastry from your palmiers, use them to build Sugar et Al’s mille feuille, aka napoleon. Homemade meringue (you can do it!) and a tart raspberry compote take this treat to the next level.

Image: Sugar et Al

Chocolate and Nutmeg Tart

Few things are as classically French as the chocolate tart, which calls for chocolate ganache poured onto pâte sucrée (aka sweetened butter dough). Five and Spice kicks hers up with a hint of nutmeg.

Image: Five and Spice

Vanilla Cream Puffs

For tarts, we whipped up a pâte sucrée — but cream puffs? They’re a whole ‘nother breed of pastry called pâte à choux. This is essentially water, oil (or butter), and sugar cooked over the stove, plus flour and eggs mixed in afterward. With a little bit of muscle, you’ll have bakery-worthy cream puffs in no time. Thanks, Bake Noir!

Image: Bake Noir

Apple Maple Financiers

Arguably the most forgiving of pastries, the financier is an almond cake traditionally shaped like a gold bar (hence its name). Sugar et Al whips up a tasty variation in her standard-issue muffin tin.

Image: Sugar et Al

Crockpot Brioche

This one’s not for the purists at heart. Crepes of Wrath takes the guesswork (and the kneading) out for one fluffy, mindblowingly simple brioche bread.

Image: Crepes of Wrath

Croissants

There’s no easy way around this one, but luckily, our friends at Half Baked Harvest walk us through the steps. With a little planning and a trusty rolling pin, these croissants are just a few folds away from your breakfast table.

Image: Half Baked Harvest