Entremets: C’est pas du gâteau! (Not a piece of cake!)

It’s always the same – arriving at the airport to leave France I grab one last pastry, which is not quite la crème de la crème, but still a last péché mignon before I depart from the Motherland. Because even though there are some great French bakeries in the US, I know I will miss the amazing desserts that are unique to France.


La Pâtisserie Canet in Nice has particularly beguiled me. Their array of entremets (layered desserts) is exquisite, and I don’t consider a trip complete until I have had one of their creations. My personal favorite is the ‘galet’, designed to mimic the gray flat rocks that line the Mediterranean. It is simply perfection: the creaminess of the milk chocolate mousse, the tanginess of the passion fruit insert, and the pleasing crunch of the biscuit. Pure magic.

A vos marques, prêts, pâtissez!

Great Baking Shows

‘The Great British Baking Show’ introduced me to a variety of foreign desserts, but it was the French version ‘Meilleur Pâtissier‘ that showed me the infinite combinations of decadent entremets. I watched Season 11 in its entirety, drooling over each creation. The amateur bakers made it all look so easy, and I was inspired to try it myself. (Don’t we all watch “Dancing with the Stars” convinced we could cha-cha?). Determined to recreate that taste of France in my kitchen, I dove right in. By the end of Season 12, I was making two desserts a month.

The show ‘Meilleur Pâtissier’ can be found in France on channel M6, but you can also find replays of several seasons on YouTube. I absolutely love the show! My friend and I always place a bet on the winner in week one. The prize for guessing correctly is a copy of the winner’s cookbook! You too can look forward to each competition beginning with Marie Portolano’s enthusiastic

à vos marques, prêts, pâtissez!”

Lisez bien la recette

Entremet cookbooks

It begins, of course, with recipes, and as these desserts are classically French, entremet cookbooks in the US are not easy to find. Hurdle number one. If you can find them, they often ship from France and are very expensive. My best advice is to buy cookbooks while in France, even if they weigh down your luggage.

Head to FNAC or Alice Délice (a baker’s paradise) to find a great selection. And as it is best to learn to walk before we run, there are a few ‘starter’ books that I found particularly useful:

  • Tout ce que j’aurais voulu savoir avant de me lancer en Pâtisserie‘ by Marine Guerna and
  • Challenge Pâtisserie‘ published by Albin Michel.

All of the cookbooks I have purchased are in French, with my ultimate goal being to master recipes of Entremets:

  • 40 Desserts d’Exception’ by Christophe Felder & Camille Lesecq.

If reading French is another hurdle for you:

If you are lucky enough to find yourself at Alice Délice, without your spouse impatiently waiting outside, take the time to pick up some specialty ingredients and tools that are more difficult to find back at home. Of course, this varies by country. Start by perusing your new cookbook to see if there are ingredients (like NH Pectin) that seem exotic to you. It’s easy to tuck that in your suitcase, as well as the silicone molds that are plentiful (and collapsible!)

Then choose one recipe that seems abordable, and study it carefully. As our dear Mercotte (Jacqueline Mercorelli) advises:

lisez bien la recette”!

As entremets are made up of various layers that will need to chill, it will take about three days on average to complete your masterpiece. But remember, just take it one layer at a time. I find this reassuring. I only have to master one part at a time, and once I have the different layers down, I can choose to mix and match the ones I like the most – or produce the most successfully!

A chacun son goût – to each their own taste

Perhaps entremets are not your cup of tea. The world of French pâtisserie encompasses a wide variety of sweets, macarons, pâte à choux, pâte feuilletée, mousses, tartes, meringues… the list goes on and on.

I once spent a summer creating every kind of tarte I could find. Follow your petit bonheur. I fill my kitchen with French music and the delicious aromas of the country I love.

La cerise sur le gâteau – the cherry on the cake is sharing my passion with family and friends. While many cookbooks are very detailed, you may be more of a visual learner.

YouTube learning

Many YouTube videos teach various techniques. More complicated ones like glaçage miroir warrant a search!

Classes and courses

If you prefer to have more guidance, there are also many classes you can take. Make a specific dessert like macarons or croissants at places like Sur La Table or at local bakeries, or go all in and learn all of the classics at a pastry school like Escoffier School of Culinary Arts.

If you need more convincing, I leave you with wisdom in this book by Pierre Hermé Gourmandise: source inépuisable de bonheur”.

Do you indulge your passion for France with baking? And entremets are they one of your favourites? Share your preferences and experiences in the comments below.

About the Contributor

Traci Parent

Former French teacher and boutique owner, my love for the language, gastronomy, culture, and shopping lure me to each corner of France, even though we have a home base in Nice (when not in the US). I share French hidden gems & authentic experiences at www.frenchdetours.com

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