What is a Mignardise?

D. Poupon

A mignardise is a bite-sized dessert, and its name is used interchangeably with the French term petit four. The word "misnardise" is a French noun referring to an artificial air, or a show-off, but it also refers to an assortment of small desserts typically served with coffee at the end of a meal. A mignardise should be as pretty as it is tasty. Chocolate truffles, mini tarts and spoon-size pound cakes are just a few examples of different mignardises. Mignardises are not systematically served at the end of every meal and instead are reserved for special occasions.

Bite-size chocolates are a type of mignardise.
Bite-size chocolates are a type of mignardise.

A chef can display his or her talents when creating elaborate and refined mignardise pastries. These small sweets typically are served with coffee at the end of a meal. They are bite-size to make sure that they not to distract from the rest of the chef’s creations, but these sweet little bonuses also are served as a reminder of the chef’s skill.

A mignardise may be served with coffee at the end of a special meal.
A mignardise may be served with coffee at the end of a special meal.

All sorts of deserts can be mignardises, such as chocolates, cookies and cakes, as long as they are individual servings and can be eaten without utensils. Mini trifles served in shot glasses with espresso spoons would not be considered a mignardise, nor would a small slice of cake. Bite-size chocolates, such as chocolate truffles, chocolates decorated with nuts and dried berries and fruit dipped in chocolate would be considered mignardises. Confections such as delicate almond cookies, meringues or even flavored marshmallows also would be some common mignardises. A final category of mignardises are miniatures of regular-size cakes, such fruit tarts and pound cakes.

Mignardises are not part of a common three-course meal. In fact, they typically are available only on special occasions when guests would like to extend their dining experience as long as possible. In both France and the rest of the world, mignardises typically are not served except in the fanciest restaurants. More commonly, in place of mignardises, a piece of chocolate is left with the dining bill, sending a similar message from an establishment, thanking the guest and extending an invitation to come again.

In French, the word mignardise has a variety of definitions, but all mignardises are pleasing to the eye. The word also is used to describe a person who is a show-off, a decorative type of carnation flower and the brightly colored braided ribbon used to decorate military uniforms. The use of the word to describe an elegant little dessert combines the notions of decoration and showing off as well.

Mignardise is typically only served in fancy restaurants.
Mignardise is typically only served in fancy restaurants.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments


After my apprenticeship I worked in a variety of five star hotels in the early eighties. The word Mignardise was frequently used in the establishments, especially if the French language was used for the service calls and menu description.


I got a book with a section of mignardise recipes last year as a gift, and I salivate while looking at those pages. Some of them are pretty involved and too hard for me to attempt, but a few were really simple.

I made some chocolate-covered cherries that turned out great. I also made a few chocolate pumpkin mignardises, and though the name might sound a little strange, these are actually quite good. They contain cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, so they have that signature pumpkin pie flavor, but they are coated in semi-sweet chocolate.


@healthy4life – I think that as long as they are bite-sized, they will fit the mignardises definition. I don't believe that shape has anything to do with it, since I've seen some shaped like pumpkins and leaves!

They just have to be aesthetically appealing and small. I had some delicious harvest mignardises this year that were just as cute as they were tasty.

The little orange pumpkins were filled with spice cake. The leaves were chocolate and had been coated with orange-flavored icing. They were very ornate, and the flavors were seasonal.


It's funny that a piece of cake big enough to require a fork doesn't fit the mignardise definition, but a piece of cake small enough to be popped into your mouth does. I suppose a small cake would have to be a perfect square to fit the definition, since every other midnardise I've seen is either round or square and not rectangular.


I am familiar with the term “petits fours,” but I have never heard of a mignardise. I know that the literal translation of petits fours is “small oven.”

I saw a box of petits fours around Valentine's Day once, and since I had no one to give me a gift back then, I bought them for myself. They were the most decorative and delicious candies I have ever eaten!

The designs on the top appeared to have been either hand painted or hand carved. The truffle cream in the middle had the consistency of nougat, and it came in a variety of flavors. I still remember those petits fours, even though I ate them seven years ago!

Post your comments
Forgot password?