French cuisine is the height of decadence, known for its confections, bakeries, wine, and a wide variety of cheeses.
Perhaps the key to enjoying such fat and carb-laden indulgences is the portion size. The French can eat bread, cheese, chocolate, and fried delicacies daily and guilt-free because they come in small servings.
A case in point is the long list of popular French snacks I will discuss below, many of which are bite-sized pastries, puffs, and fritters that are rich enough to satisfy you in one or two perfect bites.
The French version of Apple Turnovers, Chaussons Aux Pommes are a delightful afternoon or mid-morning snack to enjoy with an espresso.
They’re made using the same pastry dough as a croissant, brushed with egg wash to create a crispy, flakey crust that cedes into a rich buttery apple filling.
If you like these, check out other
delicious French pastries to enjoy as a snack!
Chouquettes are light and airy
puff pastries made with choux pastry and topped with large-grain sugar.
They’re baked into bite-sized rounds that are as indulgent as they are delicate.
They have a lovely crunch, and you can eat half a dozen without ruining your dinner.
You could serve them as a light dessert with Nutella or fruit compote.
If you’d rather have a savory snack, Gougere is the salty, cheesy version of chouquettes.
In English, we call them cheese puffs. They are likewise, small baked rounds of choux pastry dough mixed with grated cheese.
Typically, gruyere or comte is the
French cheese of choice for these delightful puffs, but any semi-hard or hard cheese will do.
A popular breakfast bread, Pain Aux Raisins is a raisin bread that the French also refer to as “escargot” for its spiral shape.
Similar to a cinnamon roll, the Pain Aux Raisins uses buttery paste-like frangipane or almond paste spread.
The key to making the raisins taste extra juicy is to soak them in water or
cognac before sprinkling them atop the frangipane and rolling it all up.
Originating in Northern France, Palets de Dame are soft, cake-like
cookies with rum-flavored icing.
Meaning “lady’s pucks,” Palets de Dames are small, circular cookies with the thickness of a hockey puck.
They’re easy to whip up with limited resources and a delicious snack, dessert, or breakfast to enjoy with coffee.
A versatile snack, Vol-au-vent are simply cylindrical pastry shells with a hollowed-out center.
They originated in Paris from French Chef Antonin Careme, who made them by stacking a ring of puff pastry dough on a double layer of puff pastry rounds.
These shells can be the receptacle of
cheese, creams, veggies, meat, chicken, or fish.
A popular savory snack, Pissaladiere is
a French bread similar to focaccia.
It originated in the Northwestern region of Genoa, Italy, and quickly spread to the neighboring French region of Nice.
Pissalad means “salty fish” in French, referring to this savory bread’s key ingredient of anchovies.
You’ll see this focaccia sold in squares, topped with olives, caramelized onions, and anchovies. similar to focaccia.
Here’s a snack famous in every region of the world where potatoes exist!
Pommes Frites are fried potatoes, or French fries, if you will.
There isn’t much of a difference between American and French fries in terms of ingredients or cooking methods.
The main difference lies in the serving style and dipping sauces.
In France, mayonnaise or aioli is
the common dipping sauce, and pomme frites are served in a cone-shaped paper receptacle.
Panisses are chickpea flour fritters that are
popular Mediterranean delicacies.
They’re made by boiling chickpea flour and water together to form a polenta-like paste that you then put into a rectangular pan.
You then wait until the mixture hardens before cutting the mold into thick, two-inch long rectangular fritters.
These remind me of a cross between polenta and falafel fries. They taste great with a spicy dipping sauce.
Canistrelli is a delicious shortbread cookie from Corsica that consist of a simple ingredient list of flour, sugar, and white wine.
Common flavoring agents include lemon zest and star anise.
These cookies are thick like shortbread and very crispy.
The French eat them for breakfast, as a mid-afternoon snack with tea or coffee, or as a light dessert.
A globally beloved dish,
crepes are ultra-thin griddlecakes consisting of a liquid batter of milk, flour, water, and eggs.
You ladle a bit of the liquid batter over a heated pan with a bit of butter, and within a minute, you have a delicious pancake to fill with whatever your heart desires.
I like combining sweet and savory by filling my crepes with cheese and apples.
The height of decadence, Eclairs are finger-shaped pastries filled with buttery vanilla cream and topped with a thick layer of chocolate icing.
The pastry dough is choux pastry, which is a light and crispy receptacle for a rich and silky filling and topping.
Eclairs are front and center in any
coffee shop or patisserie dessert case.
Having one with coffee or espresso is essential.
Macarons are light and airy cookie sandwiches that come
in a rainbow of colors and flavors.
Originating as a royal delicacy during the Renaissance, macarons are naturally gluten-free, using almond meal, egg whites, and sugar.
Sandwiched between two macaron cookies is some form of creamy filling, ranging from ganache and buttercream to jam.
Marrons Glace are candied chestnuts.
Chestnuts are a popular fall snack all over Europe. In the States, we’re used to eating them roasted.
They have a sweet, starchy flavor. Furthermore, candying the chestnuts emphasizes their sweetness.
They taste like bite-sized candied yams, with a dry, crunchy, and baked crust and a pillowy innard.
Chocolate and bread are perfect parcels on their own, but the marriage of the two is a match made in heaven.
Pain au Chocolat is a croissant pastry stuffed with a long bar of high-quality chocolate.
The buttery, flaky croissant texture is the perfect complement to the rich semi-sweet chocolate.
The chocolate bar doesn’t melt completely, and its firm texture is a delightful surprise at the bottom of each bite.
The French answer to “pigs in a blanket,” Galette-Saucisse is a
typical street food of Upper Brittany, consisting of a pork sausage wrapped in a buckwheat flour crepe.
The crepe essentially acts as an edible wrapper for the hot sausage that insulates the sausage while protecting your hands from being burned.
The French usually eat these without sauces, but I like to put Dijon mustard on mine.