Classic French Desserts and Pastries for Christmas

The thirteen desserts of Christmas, or Les Treize Desserts de Noël, are enjoyed after Gros Souper in Provence. The thirteen desserts are in reference to Jesus and his twelve apostles at the Last Supper. As tradition goes, there must be at least thirteen sweet available, they are all served at once, and each guest must have at least a small bit of each dessert. 

Not every dish served has to be a full-blown dessert, small pastries, sweets are included. Here are  several recipes most likely to...MORE appear during the "thirteen desserts."

  • 01 of 07
    buche-de-noel
    Buche de Noel. Clive Bozzard-Hill - Getty Images

    The first Christmas yule log cake or Buche de Noel, recipe was cleverly created in the late 1800s by a French pastry chef looking to replace and pay culinary homage to the original yule log tradition. This chocolate Buche de Noel recipe showcases a light-as-air, vanilla Genoise cake rolled into a cylinder with the richest, homemade chocolate buttercream frosting.

  • 02 of 07
    madeleines
    Madeleines. Getty Images

     No celebration could possibly be complete without these delicous little cakes especially with the addition of chocolate. 

  • 03 of 07
    macarons
    French Macarons. sodapix sodapix - Getty Images

     Pretty as a picture and perfect for Christmas celebrations. 

  • 04 of 07
    palmiers
    Palmiers. James And James

     Warm, buttery and flaky little morsels so lovely with a glass of something at Christmas. 

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07
    quince-paste
    French Quince Pate. Santiago Urquijo

    Quince paste is not, by looking at its appearance, a pâté de fruits but more of a thick, firm jelly and by far less sweet too. The paste is also known in other countries as a quince cheese, and in Spain as Membrillo. 

    This quince paste recipe is in the classic style of Cotignac D'Orleans. A specialty of the French city of Orleans since the 15th century, this quince paste is notably less sweet than similarly prepared pates de fruits, or fruit paste candy. 

    Serve slices of the prepared quince...MORE paste with a selection of cheese, nuts, and fruit on a cheese board. The paste is also delicious with cold game meats such as venison. 

  • 06 of 07
    calissons
    Calissons Recipe. Laurent Giraudou Getty Images
    Most of the world’s supply of Calissons – a unique almond paste candy – comes from Aix en Provence. Most visitors to Aix come away with a penchant for the distinctive candy. They’re hard to find, but taking the time to make them from scratch is worth the effort.
  • 07 of 07
    Fougasse
    Fougasse. Owen Franken Getty Images

    Fougasse or pompe à l'Huile, an olive oil flatbread, is eaten with grape jam made during the last harvest season. The tradition is to break the bread into individual servings with the fingers, rather than cut the bread with a knife. Legend goes that this protects one's wealth from bankruptcy in the coming year.

    The "four beggars" portion of lez treize stands for four monastic communities: Augustinians, Carmelites, Dominicans, and Franciscans. Walnuts stand for the Augustinians,...MORE almonds for the Carmelites, raisins for the Dominicans, and figs for the Franciscans. A platter of fresh fruit usually counts as one dessert, and is always served after Gros Souper. It can be a selection of oranges, apples, pears, and grapes. Any combination of seasonal fruit is welcome, and fresh berries rarely make the list, although they would be considered acceptable, as well.