Time together: French Baking Projects for Mother’s Day

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Mother’s Day gift-giving is usually easy. A bouquet of flowers and a brunch reservation are usually all our moms are looking for.

But to nurture the relationship in a deeper way, tackle a kitchen project together that neither of you would attempt alone. A signature dish takes time and attention, both things that will draw you together. You’ll inevitably have more time to bond as you knead, roll, or pipe—and there will be two of you to do the dishes.

We suggest you start with French desserts. French pastry can be intimidating, which makes it the perfect candidate for a day together in honor of Mother’s Day. And at the end, you’ll have a show-stopping sweet to impress the rest of your family.

Here are three not-so-simple desserts, ranked by level of difficulty.

1. Classic Eclairs

Choux pastry, the puffy pastry used to make eclairs and cream puffs, is best filled and eaten right away. So the only way to really experience them is to make them at home. The multi-step process is perfect for a pair—and it only takes a couple of hours. You can also skip the icing and make cream puffs.

2. Chez Panisse Almond Tart

For more of a challenge, try a renowned tart from the renowned restaurant. This dough is challenging to work with and the tart is fussy and messy, requiring patchwork and handling right out of the oven. But the result is gorgeous and satisfying.

3. Canelés

For the supreme kitchen challenge, invite your mom to make these together. The balance between the custard-like center and the deeply caramelized exterior requires patience and lots of time. You’ll also need to invest in canelés molds. But once you’ve mastered this, you’ll both have new skills and something to be proud of.