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Parlez Vous Dessert?

Don't let a little thing like pronunciation stand in the way of a great French dessert.

People who love good food often read cookbooks like novels―for pleasure and inspiration―not to mention the possibility of escape to exotic locales. With a good collection of cookbooks, the inquisitive chef can explore the world's great cuisines without ever setting foot outside the kitchen.

Putting those cuisines into practice, however, sometimes leads to a curious result: Globe-trotting cooks often end up preparing dishes whose names they can't pronounce. And French desserts are among the most commonly misspoken.

But just because you can't say them doesn't mean you should avoid them. To help, we've provided a sampling of France's best desserts―along with phonetic spellings. Some of these desserts are light and airy, others more humbly satisfying, but all are favorites.

So don your best French accent to proclaim your love of dacquoise (even if you miscue on a syllable or two) and your worldliness as a dessert maker.

Blancmange (blawnh-MAHNZH), a French favorite, is a cooked pudding that's poured into individual ramekins and chilled. Unmolded puddings are often served with a fruit sauce or compote.

Profiteroles (pruh-FIT-uh-rolls) are miniature cream puffs made with pate a choux (paht-ah-SHOO), an egg-based pastry that puffs as it bakes. Coulis (koo-LEE) is the French name for a thick sauce made with fruits or vegetables.

Pot de creme (poh-duh-KREHM) is a dense, rich, baked custard. This French favorite is best served warm or at room temperature.

A dacquoise (da-KWAHZ) is a French torte consisting of meringue layers and buttercream filling. In our two-layer stack, the coffee-flavored frozen-yogurt filling contrasts nicely with the crisp meringue. Immediately after you assemble the dessert, the meringues are crisp, but after sitting a day or so in the freezer, they soften and become almost chewy.