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By the Book: Pierre Hermé’s Pastries

December 18th 03:12pm, 2012

Pierre Hermé was famous for his involvement with Ladurée in Paris, but since his departure from the famous patisserie, he’s grown his business of designer pastries in Tokyo, Paris, Dubai and London. His desserts are the epitome of luxury: beautiful, pristine and decadent. His latest cookbook, Pierre Hermé Pastries, is certainly fit for the most beautiful of coffee tables, but, unexpectedly, it also has some recipes simple enough for home cooks.

The book is comprised of 50 desserts. From simple pleasures like cookies (See the chocolate chip cookie recipe below.) and muffins to extravagances like croissants and mille-feuille, each classic dessert has two recipes to accompany it: one classic version and one version that Hermé has reinvented. There are some recipes that are actually simple; for example, his chocolate cake recipe requires only 10 minutes of active preparation time.

So while the book feels a bit intimidating, there are definitely recipes that are easy enough for home cooks who don’t own a blowtorch. You will need a scale to make most of these recipes though, especially since Hermé includes measurements like one-and-a-half eggs or 75 grams. There’s a reason that his pastries are perfect, I suppose.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 30 Cookies

1¼ cups (120 g) pecan or macadamia nuts
8 oz. (240 g.) Guanja dark chocolate, 70% cacao (Valrhona)
1¼ sticks (150 g.) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp. (5 g.) fleur de sel de Guérande (or other fine sea salt)
1¼ cups (240 g.) soft brown sugar
1½ eggs (75 g.)
1¾ cups (225 g.) all-purpose flour
1 tsp. (5 g.) baking powder
¼ tsp. (1.5 g.) baking soda

• Using a rolling pin, coarsely break the pecan or macadamia nuts into pieces. Chop the chocolate into pieces
• Cut the butter into pieces and process it until it is creamy. Process it again with the salt and sugar until the mixture is smooth.
• Incorporate the eggs and process for 3 more minutes. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, chopped nuts and chocolate pieces. Process 2 minutes.
• Preheat the oven to 340 degrees.
• Line the baking sheets with parchment paper.
• Using an ice cream scoop, shape mounds of dough weighing around 1 oz. (30 g.), and arrange them on the prepared baking sheets, leaving generous space between each mound. Flatten them slightly with the palm of your hand.
• Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool. Store the cookies in an airtight container.

Reprinted with permission from Stewart Tabori & Chang

What’s the best dessert you have ever had and where did you get it? Tell us about it in the comments section below for a chance to win a copy of Pierre Hermé Pastries. We’ll announce the winner in next week’s By the Book column.

And now, we’d like to congratulate Ian, whose comment on last week’s By the Book has won him a copy of Ritz Paris Haute Cuisine. Ian, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew.

By Meera Nagarajan

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10 Responses to “By the Book: Pierre Hermé’s Pastries”

  1. Hao Says:
    December 18th, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    tiramisu. i had in an italian restaurant in new haven and i was sorta frozen… which made it soooo gooood. other than that, i think i’ve been obsessed with every panna cotta i’ve had so far. mmmm… creamy perfection!

  2. Lynn Wagner Says:
    December 18th, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Here: Plantain crepes from the cuban restaurant that was at Chesterfield Mall. No one else around here makes them. It was a chocolate crepe filled with plantain mousse. Heavenly. In Germany, I had this amazing orange flavored creamy pudding-like dessert topped with chocolate shavings. Unforgettable.

  3. Sue Says:
    December 18th, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    The first time I ever had Creme Brulee was such a revalation – how something so simple with just a few ingredients could taste so delicious! It was in Scottsdale Arizona at a Lowe’s Hotel back when I was in college and I took a good friend there for Valentines Day. It was the start of my dessert fascination and discovery that, even if I couldn’t cook well, I could follow instructions and make any kind of fabulous dessert. It was also the start of my search for the best Creme Brulee. I loved it so much I even married it – My husband’s last name is Brule’ (pronounced like the dessert).

  4. Gwen Brooks Says:
    December 18th, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    It is so difficult to choose the best dessert I’ve ever had. The best Grand Marnier souffle ever, in the world, was at the Four Seasons in New York…the perfect height with a moist, delicate center and served with a smooth chocolate ganache. The best Creme Brulee was in Seattle…velvety smooth custard with the required crisp sugared topping, accompanied by fresh berries. But my appreciation of the perfect end to a perfect meal goes back to my Texas roots…the best Coconut Creme pie at a little diner just outside of the little town of Tomball. That pie was at least 7 inches high, with equal parts of perfect merengue and melt-in-your-mouth coconut custard on a flaky golden crust. Thank you, great chefs and diner cooks for taking such good care of us.

  5. Amrita Says:
    December 18th, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    Beignets at Cleveland-Heath; soft and pillowy but wonderfully crisp at the same time, and the chocolate sauce accompanying it was beyond amazing. Haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since!

  6. Joe Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    My wife and I were lucky enough to go to The French Laundry on our honeymoon. They had a dessert called Dark and Stormy consisting of a gingerbread spiced cookie with pinapple sorbet. It was quite simple but nothing could come closer to perfection. Unbelievably good. That same trip we had a Grand Marnier souffle at Fleur de Lys which was quite excellent as well!

  7. Katie Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    A soufflé at Fleur de Lys. I have never had a soufflé comparable before or since. As a result I’ve stopped ordering them elsewhere because inevitably I end up disappointed!

  8. Patty Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    I don’t remember the name of the restaurant but it was in Rome on a tiny side street behind our hotel. The staff directed us to the restaurant. It was a mom and pop type place with MAYBE 10 tables. The tiramisu there was unbelievable!!

  9. Jessica Says:
    December 21st, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    High tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC. Even though it is really a meal in itself, it was as indulgent as any dessert. Buttery scones with jam and clotted cream, assorted pastries and finger sandwiches were served on delicate china. The signature Empress tea, a blend that included Assam, Kenyan, South Indian and Chinese teas seemed to flow non-stop. It was an elegant setting and I shared it with a very dear childhood friend. I’ve been a tea drinker ever since.

  10. Cherie Says:
    December 24th, 2012 at 12:27 am

    Peach cobbler at Paulo’s in O’Fallon, IL. The peaches had just been picked from Eckert’s that afternoon, and he had only made enough with the peaches he had. It was phenomenal.

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