How to Throw an Impossibly Elegant French Dessert Party

Every Francophile spends their days dreaming about macarons, cr?me br?lees, and pain au chocolat--and we're no exception. That's why we tapped Manger blogger Mimi Thorisson, who details her mouthwatering culinary adventures at her scenic ch?teau in Medoc's wine country, to not only share a few classic confections from her upcoming cookbook French Country Cooking ($28; available for pre-order on amazon.com)--but show us how to decorate for a cozy-chic (read: French?) soiree. From the easy-to-prep, laid-back menu to a table setting that's full of antique appeal, read on for the full breakdown.

SEND OUT A CHARMING INVITE

Drop your guests a note with a quaint blue-and-white china pattern (free/digital invitation; paperlesspost.com/instyle) and hint at the vintage details to come.

Set the Scene

We're all about the rustic French countryside aesthetic, but know that tr?s chic does not always translate to "easy DIY." Thankfully, Thorisson shared her pro-tips on how to throw together a stylish dessert party that would win Marie Antoinette's approval.

GO OLD-SCHOOL
Vintage tablewear is "soaked with history," says Thorisson, who loves revamping tradition in fresh ways--say, piling clouds of fluffy whipped cream into a pretty antique silver gravy boat.

KEEP IT LIGHT
Charming white plates frame Thorisson's food beautifully, but never steal the spotlight. "The table as a whole should be opulent, but it should never feel stiff, forced, or designed," she tells InStyle.

CREATE HEIGHT
Give each confection its due--and liven up the tablescape--by using cake stands in varying sizes and colors. "I love mixing them," says Thorisson. "They bring an Alice in Wonderland touch" to an enchanted spread.

Pour a Complementary Glass of Wine

Thorisson's simple rule? Pair any not-too-sugary dessert with a delicious sweet drink. She matches her famous fig tart (scroll down below) with a fruity Pineau des Charentes ($30/750 ml; astorwines.com) and a more decadent dish, like cinnamon cr?pes (also below), with a dry Champagne, such as Drappier Carte d'Or Brut ($45/750 ml; astorwines.com). The mellow tarte tatin (below) goes well with a sweet Loupiac from Bordeaux (Ch?teau Dauphine Rondillon Loupiac 2009, $28/750ml; sfwtc.com).

COME EQUIPPED WITH A MAKE-AHEAD DISH

Thorisson prepares these delicious, cinnamon-flecked pancakes up to six hours in advance. When it's time to serve, she simply fills them with cream and diced berries. Get the recipe here.

Whip up a Tasty Treat Tout Suite

This tart recipe packed with figs--a naturally sweet source of potassium, fiber, and beauty-boosting vitamins-- is a guiltless choice. Plus, it only take 30 minutes start to finish. Get the recipe here.

INCLUDE A SEASONAL FAVORITE

This caramelized apple tarte tatin, which is essentially an upside-down pie, minus the base crust, is a sweet aromatic blend of vanilla, fruit, and butter. Need we say more? Get the recipe here.

Send 'Em Home with Something to Remember

Say "merci" with oversize matchboxes ($12; hudsongracesf.com), each tied with traditional baker's twine and graced by a pretty sprig of lavender.

For more fall recipes and entertaining tips, pick up the October issue of InStyle, available on newsstands and for digital download now.