Every year, in France’s Provence, locals celebrate the Holidays with the traditional “12 desserts,” a selection of dried fruits, nuts, fresh fruit, cakes and sweet little nothings, an age-long Christian tradition (the 12 desserts symbolizing Jesus’s apostles.) These desserts are best enjoyed during le Réveillon de Noël, (Christmas Eve,) at the end of a copious dinner. This weekend, if you can’t be in France, you can still plan your own version of les 12 desserts, (or 8, or 10,) with minimal preparation, thanks to Trader Joe’s French desserts. Trader Joe’s, in case you have lived under a rock and have never shopped there, is the French expat’s best friend in the US. Are you ready? Mesdames et Messieurs, chers gourmands et gourmets, I give you: Trader Joe’s exclusive farandole des desserts. 

Trader Joe’s French Desserts: Les Macarons. 

You may find them too soft, too crunchy, too sweet. “Pierre Hermé does them better,” (as do many neighborhood boulangeries in France without the Hermé price tag, by the way.) They come in many flavors (“variés.”) They are bite-size, and therefore guilt-free. I enjoy any of them, as long as they are not pumpkin-flavored. This French Girl may have become americanized over the years, but let’s not push it. Pumpkin, as far as I am concerned, is best left out of desserts, soap, or coffee beverages.

Trader Joe's French desserts

Even if I am not a fan of macarons, (shocking, I know,) I take a bite and am instantly transported back to those sunny Bordeaux afternoons when I sampled local specialties in my rental apartment in the spring.

Trader Joe's French desserts

Trader Joe’s French desserts: Les Canelés

Didn’t I just mention Bordeaux? This is where these wonderful little treats come from. Ah, the soft interior, the vanilla flavor, the caramelized crust… Once again, Trader Joe’s gets it right. Take the box out of the freezer. Take the Canelés out of the box. Let them sit on a plate for about 20 minutes. Enjoy.

Trader Joe's French desserts

They are pretty and delicious enough to serve to your guests for dessert, or to the book club ladies in the afternoon. A single bite is a one-way ticket to la Belle France.

Trader Joe's French desserts

Trader Joe’s French desserts: Les éclairs

Need I introduce these custard-filled wonders? So many “French” bakeries in the US get them wrong, falling short in the filling department where strange mixtures, reminiscent of whipped cream, replace the traditional crème pâtissière (pastry cream.) Yet Trader Joe’s (or should I say “Trader Jacques?”) delivers.

Trader Joe's French desserts

Trader Joe’s French desserts: Les {mini} crêpes 

it isn’t a French dessert party without crêpes. Trader Joe’s knows that, and saves you one step: Theirs come pre-filled with chocolate. How bad can they be?

Trader Joe's French desserts

Verdict: They are different, They are good. Truly.

Trader Joe's French desserts

Ohhhhhhh… (Photo credit: Trader Joe’s)

Trader Joe’s French desserts: La tarte aux fruits

Dear Trader Joe’s: You broke my little French heart when you retired the amazing pear tart you offered several years ago. It was almost as good as la tarte aux poires I used to buy at my local boulangerie when I lived in Paris. I enjoy your current selection, la tarte aux fruits rouges. It’s so pretty, and so lively! You would not believe how often I have spotted it at my friends’ homes over the last few years! I always keep one in the freezer. Thank you for rescuing this busy working girl, averse to baking, when she needs to bring dessert to a party!

Trader Joe's French desserts

Trader Joe’s French dessert: Les viennoiseries

“Quoi? It isn’t breakfast, you know. Croissants or chocolatines pains au chocolat for dessert? Pourquoi?” Answer: Because I can, that’s why! Miam!

Trader Joe's French desserts

Look at this photo and tell me: Are you going to stick with les traditionalistes and pass, or join French Girl in Seattle as she takes a bite?

Trader Joe's French desserts

I thought so.

Trader Joe’s French desserts: Les bonbons

Not everyone has a huge appetite. After all, you may want to pace yourself if you are going to try and enjoy 12 desserts. Here’s one that can be handled swiftly and painlessly. Watch out! Like another sweet French icon, les Carambars, these soft and gooey silent attackers have destroyed more tooth fillings than you know. You have been warned.

Trader Joe's French desserts

Trader Joe’s French desserts: le pain au lait

Here’s another classic, and a favorite of young French school children’s on their way home. Take a pain au lait, slice open lengthwise. Introduce chocolate bar or lather spoonfuls of chocolate spread. Enjoy.

Trader Joe's French desserts

Trader Joe’s favorite French desserts: Do-it-Yourself (la Pâte feuilletée)

I added this one to the list for two reasons: This rich, butter flavored puff pastry is only available during the Holidays, and you should stock up while you can. In addition, my ears have been buzzing since I started writing this article, with the sound of comments along the lines of: “This is sooooo easy to make!” “Why would you buy this when you can make your own?” “Homemade ones are sooooo much better!” — To all of you Julia Child heirs, I reply: “Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I will still stick with Trader Joe’s French desserts. If you want to slave away, be my guests. Here’s just the product for you. Bonne chance!  I will be over there on the couch, sipping Nespresso and nibbling Trader Joe’s canelés.” 

Trader Joe's French desserts

I think we got ourselves a party. All we need is drinks. Trader Joe’s to the rescue, once again. It is the Holiday season. We need some bubbles, French ones, if possible. Here are my two favorite options. Choose your French region: Champagne ou Bretagne?

Trader Joe's French desserts

Trader Joe's French desserts

Bon appétit et à bientôt! 

Read more about Trader Joe’s on French Girl in Seattle here.


A Message from Véronique:

The French Girl in Seattle blog is turning 7 this year, and to celebrate in style, it will be getting a make-over in 2018. Thank you for following my adventures, and for joining the conversation. Please share your thoughts in the comment section below. There will be more good stories coming your way next year. Sign up for La Mailing List on this page, so you don’t miss a single one. I hope to meet you here again soon, and wish you all a happy Holiday season, wherever you may be. 

Joyeux Noël et bonnes fêtes! 


All photos, unless otherwise noted, by French Girl in Seattle.

Please do not use text or photos without permission.

Véronique - France with Véro
Véronique of France with Véro

Véronique of France with Véro

Vero shares her homeland weekly on social media with virtual tours, photo essays, live events and other publications at France with Vero. Learn more.

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