5 DIY Valentine’s Day Treats for the Francophile in Your Life



5 DIY Valentine’s Day Treats for the Francophile in Your Life

Bonjour, my name is Rachel, and my partner, Andy, and I live part-time in Provence. Even when we find ourselves away from our adopted Franco-village, we still make sure to keep France with us abroad, and the holidays are absolutely no exception. When it comes to the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for my favorite Francophile, I know that any French-themed treat is an automatic oui ! 

Forget the box of chocolates, as I have compiled a list of five different DIY treats, all made with a little Valentine’s Day twist. Each one is easily created in a standard home kitchen and can be fancied up with simple but elegant additions.

Which recipe will steal your heart? Read on to find out!

1. Mille Feuille

Mille Feuille, or thousand sheets, is a French dessert consisting of three layers of flaky puff pastry that are sandwiched between decadent layers of crème pâtissier (pastry cream) and usually topped with a dusting of powdered sugar to finish it off. Most recipes have the dessert layered with fresh strawberries, but I decided to use the linked recipe and substitute raspberries to get that intense pop of red for Valentine’s Day with just enough tartness to cut the sweetness of the vanilla cream.

In order to get more into the spirit of “le jour damour,” (or “the day of love” for our English speakers), I have opted to use a red petal dust in place of powdered sugar. The dust can easily be brushed on anything from fondant to frosting or even puff pastry. I ended up finding a stainless steel heart stencil on Amazon and laying it on top of the pastry, brushing the design on the final layer to give it an elevated and festive look.

2. Madeleines

Madeleines are very small, spongy butter cakes that bake in the shape of shells, adding a little oh la la to anyone’s Valentine’s Day! These little sweets are fairly easy to make and can be decorated in ways that are easy enough for the typical home baker to manage, while achieving patisserie-window-worthy results. These do require a special pan in order to make them authentically and I would suggest not going with the silicone molds in order to achieve the perfectly brown, crispy edge.

For Valentine’s Day, however, I stumbled across this beautifully-themed, heart-shaped pan at Sur La Table. Madeleines can be made in many different flavors, but I tend to enjoy traditional tastes and usually make orange or lemon-flavored ones, using a small amount of the zest to provide a huge punch of flavor to the delicate cake. I use this foolproof recipe to make the madeleines, and they always come out absolutely perfect! Dip them into different colored melting chocolate (I used pink, red, and white) and top with some festive sprinkles to elevate this little treat to the next level!

3. Strawberry tarts

Rustic strawberry tartes are not only delish, but they can also look a little rough around the edges and still be considered swanky and elegant. The tartes themselves are very versatile and can be made with any fruit you have on hand, though apples are the traditional fruit of choice.  For the holiday, though, I chose strawberries, keeping with the red color scheme.

Want to give this dish a bit more Valentine’s flair? Shape the tartes into little hearts, making them not only perfect for gifting but also an excellent dessert to accompany a dinner with your bestie or amour.

4. Macarons

Macarons are the perfect, elevated French classic. This little cookie is the epitome of French luxury and will take any Franco-friend straight to Paris with one bite. They are the most difficult to make, but don’t let that scare you off. Macarons are well worth the effort, as they ooze glamor and style. These little iconic cookies can also be made in many different colors and flavors, allowing you to stick with traditional Valentine’s go-tos like red velvet, or go rogue and customize them to each friend’s tastes.

The site I have included for the red velvet recipe also has an incredible page that includes templates for macarons and a fantastic guide for creating heart-shaped shells. Macaron shells are also notorious for being able to be stored in the freezer for up to three months. That means that you can make them way before the hustle and bustle of Valentine’s Day and pull them out to fill as you need, making you look like a culturally savvy kitchen god or goddess!

5. Palmiers

Because of the palmier’s classic heart shape, it is an absolute no-brainer that they would end up on my Franco-Valentine DIY treat list. These little cookies are the easiest things to whip up and look so pretty; they look like a gift even before wrapping them up! The standard palmier cookie is made with just puff pastry and sugar, but they are so incredibly versatile and could be made both sweet or savory.

I opted for savory since my list already consists of mostly desserts, and I made sundried tomato and basil flavor, keeping with the red theme of our holiday.  Start by spreading a thin layer of sun-dried tomato paste on an unrolled sheet of puff pastry. Then, top with a layer of mozzarella or parmesan cheese and basil sprigs before rolling the sheet into the classic palmier heart shape. Cut into one-inch slices and bake until golden brown. Set these out as a little amuse bouche before your romantic meal or alongside a fabulously French cheese board, giving a flakey, rich addition to your fromage.

Meet the author

Rachel Lipko is a 30-something freelance travel writer who is settling in to her part-time Provence life. She writes about her experiences in her blog When in Provence.

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  •  joann kniola
    2024-02-13 06:27:57
    joann kniola
    What to bring home? Roblochon, Sarments orange chocolate, French Butter, true Laudree or Hermes Macarons, Calissons........