Three Easy French Desserts for Dinner

Many people think of French cooking as being fussy and time consuming, and while it is true that French haute cuisine takes food preparation to dizzying heights, most of the cooking going on in French kitchens on a daily basis is simple and to the point. After all, French people are just as busy as you are, and they too are looking for shortcuts and easy ways to get dinner on the table.

Here are three fine examples of what you might find for dessert if you were to eat at a French friend's house. Each of these is

Made with five or less ingredients, all of which you are likely to have on hand.

Require less than 20 minutes preparation time.

Will satisfy both with their elegant presentation and with their good taste

Creme caramel

1 1/3 cup sugar, divided
3 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 large eggs

To make the caramel, place 2/3 cup of sugar in a small saucepan and wet with just enough water to dissolve it (about 1 tablespoon). Heat on medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally. The sugar will boil for a while until it starts to turn brown. As soon as it starts to turn brown remove it from the heat and pour the caramel into 6 ramekins.

In another saucepan, heat the milk with the other 2/3 cup sugar until it reaches a boil. Stir in vanilla. In a sturdy bowl, beat the eggs until light. Whisk in the hot milk, slowly at first to avoid coagulating the eggs. Whisk to completely mix.

Pour (or ladle if that works better for you) the milk mixture into the ramekins on top of the caramel. Place all 6 ramekins in a large oven proof dish. Fill the dish with water to about 2/3 the height of the ramekins.

Carefully place in 300° oven. Bake for 40 minutes to an hour (baking time can depend on the dishes used). The water should not boil during baking. The creme is done when it has set, which you can verify by inserting a knife.

Allow the cremes to cool completely, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate in their ramekins until serving time. To serve, run a knife along the outside of each creme, than turn over onto a dessert plate.

Makes 6 servings.

Petits pots de creme au chocolat

1 cup half and half
7 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
3 tablespoons strong coffee (you can use decaf of course)
3 eggs
2 tablespoons cognac (or replace this with two more tablespoons coffee

Bring the half and half to a boil on low heat. Remove from heat immediately and stir in the chocolate. Let rest for one minute to melt the chocolate, then blend until smooth. Stir in the coffee and mix until smooth again.

Beat the eggs until thick and lemon colored - about two minutes with a hand mixer. Add them to the chocolate and mix well, using the hand mixer if you wish. Add the cognac and once again mix until completely combined.

While it is still hot, pour the liquid into small dessert cups.

Refrigerate for at least two hours and even overnight if you wish. Serve cold and within 24 hours.

Makes 6 petits pots

Pommes Bonne Femme -- French Baked Apples

6 cooking apples (Pink Lady give delicious results)
3 tablespoons softened butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup heavy cream
toasted slivered almonds and red currant jelly (optional)

Remove the core from each apple leaving it whole (an apple corer is of course handy for this, but a paring knife will work if you cut carefully). Place the apples side by side in a baking dish.

Mix the butter, sugar, and cinnamon and spoon the mixture into the cored apples. Add two tablespoons of water to the baking dish and place in a 400°F oven for one hour. Bake until soft (may take longer if the apples are large).

Serve warm and drizzled with cream and any sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. For an authentic French touch, sprinkle with slivered almonds and add a dollop of red currant jelly.

Makes 6 servings

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About The Author, Kim Steele
Kim Steele writes for the website Easy French Food, dedicated to bringing you loads of fun information on French food and culture. Here you'll find lots of other Easy French Desserts. If you are looking for a lower fat dessert try this Far Breton,a French Prune Cake Recipe featuring delicious Agen prunes.