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Best Parisian Cakes: Famous Desserts Born & Perfected in Paris!

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Paris is well known for its haute cuisine and great food scene but when it comes to yummy desserts, Paris has also something to say. The city offers many delicious sweet treats and the Parisian pâtisseries, with its colorful shop windows are great places to see and – for some – to fall into the temptation.

However, most of these colorful cakes that adorn the Parisian pâtisseries are not traditional desserts from Paris or France. Did you know for example that macarons, considered today desserts typical of Paris, were not born in Paris but in Italy?

If you want to enjoy Paris like a local you need to try also some of the Parisian desserts. Below, the list of Parisian cakes, those Paris desserts 100% born and perfected in the French capital, and the history behind their funny shapes and delicious taste. Enjoy!

TIP: This Pastry and Chocolate Walking Tour at Le Marais has always great reviews


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Saint-Honoré

Saint-Honoré Cake

The Saint-Honoré is perhaps one of the most famous desserts in Paris. This Parisian specialty was born in 1850 in Chiboust, the most famous pastry shop of that time located in  . . . Rue Saint-Honoré.

In its kitchen, the young pastry chef Auguste Jullien created a pastry made of puff pastry at its base with a ring of pâte à choux piped on the outer edge. Small baked cream puffs were dipped in caramelized sugar and attached side by side on top of the circle of the pâte à choux.

The author gave his new creation the name of the street where the pâtisserie was located. The name also honored Saint-Honoré, the eighth bishop of Amiens and saint-patron of bakers and pastry chefs.

Saint-Honoré day is celebrated on May 16 so you will get a bonus point if you can eat this cake on Saint Honoré’s day!

Where to find a good Saint-Honoré cake in Paris?

  • Dalloyau – 63 Rue de Grenelle, Paris 7
  • Pâtisserie des Rêves – 93 Rue des Bac, Paris 7
  • Comptoir des pâtisseries (Mandarin Oriental) – 251 Rue Saint-Honoré, Paris 1
  • Hotel Le Meurice – 228 Rue de Rivoli, Paris 1
  • Stohrer – 51 Rue Montorgueil, Paris 2

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Mille-feuille

Mille-feuille cake

A mille-feuille, or millefeuille, is a small cake made of three layers of puff pastry and two layers of pastry cream. Its name means “thousand sheets” and refers to a large number of dough sheets that make up each cake.

The mille-feuille was born at 28 rue du Bac, in Paris 7. At that time this address was occupied by the Pâtisserie Seugnot and it was in this pâtisserie where François Pierre de La Varenne invented the mille-feuille around 1651.

The mille-feuille is one of the best desserts in Paris but also one of the most difficult Parisian cakes to prepare. The top of the mille-feuille is iced with icing sugar or fondant. Also, it is possible to add jam or fruit but the typical mille-feuille is just like on the picture.

The mille-feuille became very popular in the 19th century, especially among the local nobility. Today it is one of Parisians’ favorite cakes.

Where to find a good Mille-feuille cake in Paris?

  • Carl Marletti – 51, Rue de Censier, Paris 5
  • Gilles Marchal – 9 Rue Ravignan, Paris 18
  • Carette – 25, Place des Vosges, Paris 3
  • Landemaine – 26, Rue des Martyrs, Paris 9

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Paris – Brest

Paris - Brest cake

The Paris – Brest was invented at the end of the 19th  century by the pastry chef Louis Durand. M. Durand was asked to invent a cake in honor of the famous cycling race linking Paris to Brest. Inspired by the race itself, the cake is made of a round-shaped choux pastry, like a bicycle wheel, topped with praline cream and sprinkled with flaked almonds and icing sugar. Such an original design needed an even more original name, that’s how the Paris-Brest was born!

The Paris – Brest became very popular among the cyclists of the race who appreciated its energizing high calorific value. Today, the Paris-Brest is one of the musts of any pâtisserie in Paris.

Where to find a good Paris-Brest cake in Paris?

The Paris-Brest does not resist the hot weather well so we recommend eating it from October to May.

  • Bistrot Paul Bert – 18 rue Paul-Bert, Paris 11
  • Chez Michel – 10 Rue de Belzunce, Paris 10
  • L’Évasion –  7 Place Saint-Augustin, Paris 8
  • Le Violon d’Ingres – 135 rue Saint-Dominique, Paris 7

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Financiers

Financiers cake

We find the origin of these cakes made of beurre noisette with almond flour or ground almonds in the Middle Ages, invented by the nuns of a convent in Nancy.

During the 19th century, M. Lasne, a pastry chef installed near the Stock Exchange of Paris, modernized the old recipe with the idea to offer his customers – mostly finance men or “financiers” in French – quick bites that could be eaten without dirtying the hands.

And voilà, that’s how the financiers were born! It is also in reference to this profession that the financiers have the form of gold ingots. Needless to say, these small Paris cakes became the trend around the Stock Exchange!

Where to find good Financier cakes in Paris?

  • Hugo & Victor – 40 Boulevard Raspail, Paris 7
  • Le Moulin de la Vierge – 166 Avenue de Suffren, Paris 15

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Opéra

Opera cake

The Opéra cake was invented in 1955 by Cyriaque Gavillon, pastry chef of Pâtisserie Dalloyau, still open at 101 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré (Paris 8).

M Gavillon wanted to create a cake with all the layers visible and with many different flavors in one bite. It was his wife Andrée who named the cake “Opéra” because it reminded her of the scene of the Opéra Garnier. The cake also paid tribute to the dancers of the Opera who were usual clients of the shop.

At the time this cake was perceived as a very innovator because of its pure form, but also because of the ingredients used: sponge cake soaked in syrup, layered with ganache and coffee, and covered in chocolate glaze. Gavillon reduced sugar, removed alcohol and gave it a rectangular shape, thus inventing a very Parisian cake.

Where to find a good Opéra cake in Paris?

  • LeNôtre – 10 rue Saint Antoine, Paris 4 ; 36 Avenue de la Motte-Picquet, Paris 7
  • Dalloyau – 63 Rue de Grenelle, Paris 7;  101 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Paris 8 (the historical building).

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Religieuse

Religieuse cake

The Religieuse (it means “nun” in French) is a pastry made of two choux pastry cases, one larger than the other, filled with crème pâtissière, most commonly chocolate or mocha. Each pastry case is covered in a ganache of the same flavor as the filling, and then joined and decorated with piped buttercream frosting.

The Religieuse was invented around 1856 at Frascati, a famous Parisian pâtisserie run by a Neapolitan ice-maker and located in Boulevard de Montmartre.

It was not until the end of the 19th century that the Religieuse adopted its current appearance. Most probably, it is the plump silhouette of the pastry that gave it its name or perhaps its brown color which made it look like the dress of nuns.

The recipe is the same as for the famous éclairs, only the presentation changes.

Where to find a good Religieuse cake in Paris?

  • Rollet Pradier – 6 rue de Bourgoge, Paris 7
  • Sébastien Gaudard – 22, rue des Martyrs, Paris 9
  • Dalloyau – 63 Rue de Grenelle, Paris 7

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Baba au Rhum

Baba Au Rhum

Among all the Paris desserts on the list, this one is not a 100% Parisian cake because the brioche is originally a Polish specialty. But it was in Paris where the pastry chef of King Louis XV, Nicolas Stohrer, had the brilliant idea of imbibing it with rum to make it more mellow.

Today, the Pâtisserie Stohrer is still open so we can taste the most delicious babas au rhum in the place where they were created for the first time! Pâtisserie Stohrer, set in Paris since 1730, is today the oldest pâtisserie in the capital and it is a very beautiful store to see.

Where to find a good Baba au Rhum cake in Paris?

  • Stohrer – 51 Rue Montorgueil, Paris 2
  • Baba au Rhum is a popular dessert in many Parisian bistros

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Chouquettes

Chouquettes

Soft and incredibly light, these Parisian pastries (they are so good you cannot eat just one!) date back to the sixteenth century when choux pastry was invented by Catherine de Medici’s Italian pastry chef at the French court.

Chouquettes are light, fluffy and sprinkled with crunchy pearl sugar. Cold or warm, they are a favorite coffee-time treat.

Where to find good Chouquettes in Paris?

Chouquettes, like croissants or pains au chocolat, are popular “bakery products” in Paris. They are sold in all bakeries.

 

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