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Last Updated: 2 December 2023

French cuisine is renowned for its delicate pastries and mouth watering desserts – it’s the pinnacle of fine dining. And when it comes to cookies, they have certainly mastered the art. From buttery and flaky to chewy and indulgent, French cookies offer a wide range of flavours and textures that are hard to resist.

We’re going to explore the most popular French cookies that have captured the hearts and taste buds of people worldwide. Get ready to embark on a delicious journey through the enticing world of French cookies and discover what makes them so special.

But first...

What Makes French Cookies so Special?

French cookies hold a special place in the hearts of both locals and visitors alike. What sets them apart and makes them so special?

The flavour you taste when you bite into a soft, gooey cookie may feel like a fleeting moment, but it’s actually the product of generations of family-made recipes.

The traditional baking techniques emphasise precision and patience, producing cookies with a perfect balance of flavour and texture. And unlike many fast-food or mass-produced desserts, the French stick to simple, high-quality ingredients like fresh butter, premium chocolate, and aromatic spices, depending on what the recipe calls for.

There’s incredible attention to detail in every baking step, from measuring to decorating. This produces a wide range of flavours, catering to various palates with both classic and unique combinations.

Our home-made Bredalas © French Moments

Our home-made French cookies for Christmas! © French Moments

Their textures are equally notable, offering sensations from the delicate crispness of sablés to the airy lightness of macarons. Not to mention, they are far more visually appealing than a simple chocolate chip cookie. They’re colourful, bold, and oftentimes, uniquely shaped, which helps them stand out among other pastries.

Most Common Types of Cookies in France

France boasts a wide variety of cookies and other pastries, each with its own distinct flavour profile and charm. Let's explore the most common types of cookies that you're likely to encounter in France:

1. Madeleines

These small, shell-shaped sponge cakes are a beloved French classic. Madeleines have a soft and moist texture, with a delicate buttery flavour. They are often enjoyed with a cup of tea or coffee and are perfect for a sweet afternoon treat.

Madeleine © French Moments

Madeleines © French Moments

2. Macarons

Macarons have gained international fame for their vibrant colours and delicate texture. These sweet meringue-based cookies are made from almond flour and filled with a variety of flavoured fillings, such as ganache, buttercream, or fruit preserves. Macarons come in an array of flavours, including classics like vanilla and chocolate, as well as more adventurous options like lavender, pistachio, and rose.

Macarons 07 © French Moments

Lemon-flavoured Paris-style macarons © French Moments

3. Sablés

Sablés are buttery shortbread cookies that melt in your mouth. Their name comes from the French word for "sand," as they have a crumbly texture reminiscent of sand. Sablés can be plain or flavoured with ingredients like chocolate, nuts, or citrus zest. They are often enjoyed with a cup of tea or used as a base for tarts and desserts.

4. Palmiers

These palm-shaped cookies, also known as "elephant ears," are made from puff pastry dough and coated with sugar. When baked, the sugar caramelises, creating a crispy exterior with a soft and flaky interior. Palmiers are a popular choice for breakfast or as a sweet snack.

French cookies: Palmiers © Melsj - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

French cookies: Palmiers © Melsj - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

5. Financiers

Financiers are small, rectangular-shaped cakes with a rich and buttery flavour. Traditionally made with almond flour, these moist and tender treats are often baked in small moulds. Financiers are named after the financial district of Paris, as they were initially created to be a snack for bankers and businessmen.

Financiers aux amandes © Matthieu Blanco - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Financiers aux amandes © Matthieu Blanco - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

6. Tuiles

Tuiles are thin and crispy almond or hazelnut cookies shaped like curved tiles. They are typically served alongside ice cream or sorbet, adding a delightful crunch and nutty flavour to the dessert. Tuiles can also be moulded into various shapes, such as cones or cups, to hold other sweet fillings.

7. Langues de chat

Langues de Chat, meaning "cat's tongues," are long and thin cookies with a crisp texture. These delicate treats are often flavoured with vanilla and can be enjoyed on their own or used as an accompaniment to desserts such as ice cream or mousse.

8. Petit fours

Petit Fours are bite-sized, decorative pastries that come in a variety of shapes and flavours. While they are not strictly classified as cookies, they are often served alongside cookies in French patisseries. Petit Fours can include miniature cakes, tarts, and other small sweet treats, making them perfect for special occasions or elegant gatherings.

Petit four © French Moments

Petits-Fours © French Moments

9. Galettes bretonnes

Hailing from the Brittany region in France, Galettes Bretonnes are buttery, crispy cookies made with salted butter and a hint of vanilla. These flat and round cookies are slightly sweet and are a popular choice for tea time or as a snack throughout the day.

Galettes bretonnes © Arnaud 25 - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

French cookies - Galettes bretonnes © Arnaud 25 - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

10. Pain d'épices cookies

Pain d'Épices Cookies are spiced gingerbread cookies that are often enjoyed during the holiday season. Made with honey and a blend of warm spices like cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, these cookies have a comforting aroma and a slightly chewy texture.

Alsatian Gingerbread © French Moments

French cookies - gingerbread from Alsace © French Moments

A final word about French cookies

These are just a few examples of the most common types of cookies you'll find in France. Whether you prefer the delicate elegance of macarons or the comforting simplicity of sablés, French cookies offer a delightful range of flavours and textures that cater to every palate. So, go ahead and explore the world of French cookies, and let your taste buds experience the magic of these delectable treats. Take the quiz and find your favourite French dessert for your next visit!

Biscuit - French cookies © French Moments
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