Tag Archives: pierre herme

miss gla’gla

Continue reading

arnold palmer cookie sandwich v. 1.0

every once in a while…i get an idea.  this time around, it was the arnold palmer cookie, as inspired by the eponymously named drink. Continue reading

ispahan yogurt cake

i’m a big fan of mixing berries into yogurt cakes, and the other day, i started wondering about why i haven’t seen lychees incorporated into the batter of baked cakes?  that same day, k got back from toulouse with reports of having spotted ispahan flavored tea in the carrefour…and eureka! i decided to make an ispahan yogurt cake.

before starting, i took a look at pierre herme’s website and located his ispahan cake. the description mentions only  raspberry and rose flavors, no lychee — i wonder why?   if you click on his cake photo, a cross section pops up showing six studs of what appear to be raspberry or rose gelee inside, rather than the fruit directly.  dorie greenspan gives a recipe for pierre herme’s ispahan loaf cake in her latest book, around my french table; though her version uses fresh raspberries rather than the gelee.  i must get my hands on a loaf the next time i’m in paris to figure out what’s going on inside.

at any rate, i decided to make my version with lychees and all.  i thought it came out well for an initial trial experiment — fragrant, exotic.   i’m thinking next time, i might do a version in which the cake is raspberry flavored with rose gelee baked inside instead.

and yes, lychees can be incorporated into cake batter.  they bake quite well, remaining rather plump and moist when protected inside layers of cake.

Ispahan Yogurt Cake v. 1.0
(makes 1 nine inch loaf cake)

Dry Ingredients
Flour 270 g (2 cups)
Sugar 180 g (slightly less than 1 cup)
Baking powder 1 ½ tsp
Baking soda ½ tsp
Wet Ingredients
Eggs 2 large ones
Yogurt 250 ml (1 cup)
Canola Oil 80 ml (1/3 cup)
Rose Syrup 2 tbsp; PH recommends the Monin brand, which can be found online or at many coffee supply shops
Rose Essence 1/2 tsp; i purchased mine at Sur La Table
Fresh Raspberries 1/2 cup
Fresh or Canned Lychees 12-15 lychees (about half a can)
  1. Butter and flour a loaf pan.  Set aside.  Pre-heat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Place all dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until evenly combined.
  3. Combine all wet ingredients in a separate bowl.
  4. With the mixer set at the lowest speed (you can mix by hand as well), slowly pour in all the wet ingredients.  Beat together until just combined. Do not overmix or else the cake will become chewy.
  5. Pour 1/3 of the batter into cake pan, layer raspberries and lychees into the batter, keeping them away from the edges.  Pour 1/3 of batter above the fruit, and lay down another layer of fruit into the batter.  Finally pour the remaining batter on top to cover all the fruit.
  6. Bake at 350º F for about 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  7. Let cool for 10 – 20 minutes before taking the cake out of the pan (you’ll get a fantastic whiff of rose scent when the cake pops out of the pan!)

hugo & victor in paris

hugo and victor opened up a few months back in late march and i’ve finally had a chance to pop over an check it out.  it’s a slick and luxurious place, where pastries, exquisitely decorated, are placed behind what looks like hermetically sealed glass cases.  it’s a jewel of a store, elevating pastry to high art.  that said, it’s also a place that is as quiet as a museum, lacks lines and a sense of accessibility.  if it weren’t for the quality of its product, i’d worry more about its long-term viability. i’m sure it’s only a matter of time before the pastry obsessed crowd at pierre herme wanders over to  h&v.

i did ask if i could take pictures of the pastries inside the store, however, the staff denied my request.  fortunately, my friend S managed to snap quite a few on a separate trip and is letting me post them. there are more divine shots at the store’s website. i’d add that the store has a few core flavors (chocolate, caramel and vanilla) that are always available and a few seasonal flavors that change.  when we were there, the seasonal flavors were cherry, raspberry, strawberry, blueberry and currants.

hubby and i left the store with a bag filled with macarons, fruit jellies and financiers.  after eating the financiers on the plane ride home, we kinda wish we had bought like a dozen of those things.  definitely the finest financiers that i have ever tasted.  the texture is at once dense but also moist. i’m guessing that there’s a higher egg to flour mixture than in the typical financier recipe. they came in a 4 flavors: chocolate, orange, plain and cherry.

Hugo & Victor
40 Boulevard Raspail
Paris (Saint Germain area, near Le Bon Marche)
Mon-Sat: 9a-8:15p
Sun: 9a-1:30p

ph’s ispahan sorbet

it’s once again sweltering in NYC, and i got to thinking about pierre herme’s ispahan sorbet that hubby and i shared (well mostly me) in paris. the ispahan sorbet is a combination of litchee, rose and rasberry.  you can’t really taste the rose, it’s more of a perfumed essence imparted to the litchee.

mmmm kinda wish i had a tub of that in my freezer right now!

nb.  his ice creams are not available at all locations and are not always available year round.  i tried to buy one in november but they told me there was none in stock. i got mine this time around at the saint germain location.

le petit gâteau au pamplemousse (aka. the grapefruit muffin)

i tend to be a chocolate person.  i like my desserts, not so much sweet as intensely flavored.  however, after a weekend in LA living a la guy fieri on diners, drive-in and dives, i started inkling for something light and refreshing.   found a recipe for a creme fraiche based lemon loaf cake in ph’s book, and thought it would adapt rather nicely into grapefruit muffins. the resulting muffins are light, refreshing with just a hint of that aromatic grapefruit essence that i find so relaxing.

Le Petit Gâteau Au Pamplemousse
(adapted from Pierre Herme’s Lemon Loaf Cakes recipe; note: PH uses rum in his recipe as well as salt to control the rise of the cakes.  he also suggests glazing the cakes with a lemon marmelade glaze. he presents the syrup as an optional step for increased lemon intensity.)

For the Muffins:
Cake Flour 2 2/3 cups
Baking powder ¾ tsp
Grapefruit zest From 1 large grapefruit
Sugar 2 cups
Eggs 6 large ones
Crème Fraîche ¾ cup
Butter 1 stick melted
For the Grapefruit Syrup:
Water 1/3 cup
Sugar 3 tbsp
Grapefruit juice 4 tbsp
  1. Melt the butter and set aside to cool.
  2. Combine sugar and lemon zest in a bowl.  Mix together (PH suggests using your hands) until aromatic.
  3. Add in eggs, and whisk together until pale and foamy.
  4. Then add creme fraiche.  Mix until incorporated.
  5. Gently stir in the flour in 3 to 4 additions, until you have a smooth and thick batter.
  6. Finally, fold in the butter until incorporated.
  7. Pour the batter into regular sized muffin cups lined with a paper muffin cup.
  8. Bake at 350ºF for 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Some of the muffins will have a nice split on top.
  9. While the muffins are baking, make the syrup by combining sugar and water in a small saucepan.  Boil the syrup until the sugar has dissolved.  When the syrup cools, add in the grapefruit juice.
  10. When the muffins are baked, place them on a rack and liberally brush on the syrup.

jackfruit cream tart


my friend g is coming over to cook a malaysian smorgasbord of sambals and curries, and after playing around with making passion fruit curd, i thought i’d attempt to make a dessert that complemented those southeast asian flavours.  i settled on making a jackfruit curd tart. well, to be precise, it’s actually a jackfruit lemon cream tart.  i based the jackfruit lemon cream on pierre herme’s recipe for lemon cream from his book Desserts by Pierre Herme.  he explains in the preamble to the recipe that lemon cream is made with the same ingredients as lemon curd; however, the cream’s silky texture and true lemon flavour is achieved by cooling the cream before adding the butter, and “then giving the cream a high-speed finish in a blender.” and indeed, the resulting jackfruit lemon cream turns out to be quite thick and tangy without the richness of butter typically found in a curd.

i also whipped up a quick transparent glaze with which to top the lemon cream.  yes, it’s the transparent glaze that gives those tarts you see in french pastry stores that high gloss sheen. the glaze itself is easy to make and can be made ahead, but it does require one to mail order the key ingredient — oetker clear glaze, if you live in the US.  oetker’s clear glaze is a powder that comes in a small blue packet.  german in origins, it can be easily found in most german supermarkets.

The recipe for the jackfruit lemon cream and transparent glaze are below.  To assemble into the tart, blind bake a tart shell at 350°F for 20-25 minutes, using about 1/3 portion of the pate sucree recipe, and allow it to cool.  Pour about 2/3 of the the cooled jackfruit cream into the tart shell and spread it evenly with an offset spatula.  Then, pour the cooled transparent glaze on top of the jackfruit cream, spreading it carefully with the offset spatula.  Be sure not to mix the glaze and cream together.  The glaze should rest just on top of the cream, giving it a glossy finish. I made some heart shaped cookies out of the excess pate sucree dough that i had left over, and set the cookies on top of the glaze.

Jackfruit Lemon Cream
(makes enough to fill a 9-inch tart with a bit left over for toast, crepe filling, parfait layers or pairing with chocolate mousse)

Sugar 1 cup
Jackfruit 3 bulbs, pitted (I buy canned jackfruit.  There are about 7-8 bulbs per a can)
Lemon zest From 2 lemons
Eggs 4 large ones
Lemon juice From 2 lemons
Butter 2 ½ sticks, cubed
  1. In a blender or food processor, blend the jackfruit until it becomes a puree.
  2. Rub together the sugar, lemon zest and jackfruit puree in the bowl of your stand mixer until the sugar reaches the consistency of wet sand.
  3. Whisk in the eggs and lemon juice until everything is well combined.
  4. Place the bowl above a saucepan with simmering water (make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl).
  5. Stir continuously with a whisk until the cream thickens (it should reach 180°F at this stage if you’re using a thermometer). If you’re not using a thermometer, you will know the cream is ready when it leaves a coating on the back of a wooden spoon.   It could take up to 10 minutes, depending on the level of heat in your saucepan.
  6. Remove the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of a blender or food processor.  Let the cream cool to 140°F, stirring it occasionally or pulsing intermittently.
  7. When the cream has cooled to 140°F, add in the butter about five pieces at a time.
  8. Continue to blend the cream for another 3-4 minutes after the butter has been completely incorporated.  This will ensure a light and perfectly smooth cream.

Transparent Glaze
(enough for ~1 nine-inch tart; adapted from Desserts by Pierre Herme)

Sugar ½ cup
Oetker Clear Glaze 1 package (I mail-ordered mine from Amazon.com)
Water 1 ¼ cups
Lemon Peel From ½ lemon,
Orange Peel From ½ orange
Vanilla ½ tsp OR ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
Lemon juice 1 tbsp
Mint leaves 5 fresh leaves
  1. Mix together the sugar and glaze in a small bowl and set aside
  2. In a saucepan, heat the water, citrus peels and vanilla bean (if using) until just warm.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the sugar/glaze mixture while stirring constantly.
  4. Return the pot to the stove and bring the mixture to a boil.  Allow it to boil for 2-3 minutes over heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.
  5. Add the lemon juice and bring to a boil again.
  6. Remove from heat and add in the fresh mint or vanilla extract (if not using vanilla bean).  Allow the mixture to infuse for at least 15 minutes.
  7. Strain the glaze into a container and let it cool to room temperature.
  8. The glaze can be stored in a refrigerator or freezer.  If it has set into a jello-like consistency, liquefy it by heating it in the microwave at low power for a few seconds.  The glaze should not be heated above 104°F.

chestnut pear tart gone rogue

IMG_2461sometimes i start out well-intentioned in my kitchen. i mean to follow a recipe to the letter, and usually i do.  however, sometimes i realise that i haven’t got a particular type of ingredient in my pantry, and sometimes it’s obscure enough that i don’t feel like special ordering it or traveling 50 blocks in search of it from some specialty food store in nyc.  sometimes, i decide to go rogue!

i made a mental note a few weeks back that i wanted to test out pierre herme’s chestnut pear tart. then a few days ago, i decided that i should really use up the leftover poached pears and chestnuts paste from my montblanc experiment before they spoiled.  thinking that i had all the right ingredients at hand, i set out to reproduce ph’s tart from his book Desserts by Pierre Herme.  about 5 minutes in, i realised that i had misread some of the ingredients in his recipe.  i opted to forge ahead with a few improvisations.  i thought it turned out pretty swell nonetheless!

Tribeca Chestnut Pear Tart
(makes one 9.5 inch tart)

Pâte Sucrée About 300g, enough to make one  9-10 inch tart.  [Note: ph’s pâte sucrée recipe incorporates the usage of almond flour]
Poached Pears 2.5 to 3 poached pears. [Note: ph uses fresh pears in his tart]
Sour Cream or Crème Fraiche ½ cup
Chestnut Puree 1/2 cup
Chestnut Spread 3 tbsp
Rum 1 tsp
Eggs 2 large ones
Sugar ¼ cup
Milk 1/2 cup
  1. Prepare the tart dough in a 10 inch tart ring and blind bake the tart shell for 15 minutes at 350ºF.  Allow the crust the cool to room temperature, leaving it in the tart ring.
  2. Cut and core the poached pears into 1/3 inch cubes.
  3. In a food processor, mix together the sugar, eggs, milk, sour cream, chestnut puree and chestnut spread until smoothe.
  4. Fill the tart shell with the cubed pears.  Spread them evenly on the bottom of the crust.
  5. Then, pour in the chestnut filling from the food processor
  6. Bake the tart for 45 minutes at 350ºF., or until the filling has set.
  7. Optional:  [note: i tried to do so in the picture above but it’s not really a good example of how this should look]  the tart can be finished with a phyllo dough crown. To do so, take 3 sheets of defrosted phyllo dough (i didn’t defrost my dough, and it cracked as i was taking it out of the package). Scrunch the phyllo dough into a 10 inch tart ring, working with one piece at a time.  Lightly dust (i put too much on in the picture) the the dough with confectioner’s sugar.  Bake it for 5-7 minutes until the crown is caramelized.  When the tart and phyllo crust have cooled, carefully transfer the phyllo crown to the top of the tart.

ph’s viennese chocolate sables

IMG_2420sablé in french means sand, and these cookies very much crumble once you put them in your mouth.  i did find them similar in taste and texture to the other chocolate cookie recipe I posted, but somehow the squiggly shape makes them a lot more elegant and fun.  pierre hermé writes in a side note to this recipe from his book Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé that he learned how to make the cookies from wittamer pastry shop in vienna. he also goes on to say that the traditional version of these cookies is never made in chocolate but that he decided to make a chocolate version because they seemed like the perfect vehicle for delivering the chocolate flavour.  i’m thinking that these might be delicious in matcha form too!

hermé also advises that these cookies are typically formed into a W  — perhaps an ode to the Wittamer pastry store.  s decided to make mine into little S shapes.  S for sablé!

PH’s Viennese Chocolate Sablés
(makes ~65, or about 2 half sheet trays)

Flour                                  260g
Cocoa powder                    30g  (Valrhona preferred)
Butter                                250g @ room temperature
Confectioners’ Sugar      100g
Salt                                     a pinch
Egg whites                        3 tbsp (lightly beat 2 egg whites and then measure out 3 tbsp)

  1. Whisk together flour and cocoa, and set aside
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the butter until it is light and creamy.
  3. Add sugar and salt, and then the egg white
  4. Slowly add the flour & cocoa mixture.  Blend it until it is just incorporated.  Do not over mix or you will lose the crumbly characteristic.
  5. Pipe the cookies into whatever shape you desire using a medium star-tip.  [Note: the dough is really thick.  PH advises working in small batches.  I piped it in one fell swoop, but it required quite a lot of elbow grease on my part.]
  6. Bake at 350ºF for 10-12 minutes.

poached pear mont blanc cake


fall is the time for chestnuts, and the idea entered my head a few weeks ago that i should really try my hand at making a mont blanc cake.  rather than making the standard chestnut creme and chestnut paste covered cake, i decided to insert some poached pears into the equation.  i thought it added a nice fruity punch that lightened the rich, nutty taste of the traditional mont blanc.

Poached Pear Mont Blanc Cake
(makes 1 nine-inch cake)

Another multi-step process.  Here’s what you need:

To assemble:

  1. Carefully cut génoise cake into two even layers.
  2. Using a pastry brush, dampen the inside surface of the cake layers with the pear poaching liquid.
  3. Spread a thin layer of chestnut cream on the bottom layer of cake, and gently place the 2nd layer on top.  [note: i’d probably make this cake in the future using only one layer. two layers of cake is really too thick.]
  4. Cut the poached pears in half.  Remove the core.  Place the pears flat side down on top of the cake, leaving a 1 inch border from the edge.
  5. Spread the remaining chestnut cream on the top of the cake and pears, making sure to leave a clean 1 inch border from the edge.
  6. Using a small piping tip or a spaghetti tip, completely cover the pears and chestnut cream with the chestnut paste. [note: if you want a thicker layer of chestnut paste, you should double the chestnut paste recipe below.  the amount in the recipe below makes enough to evenly cover the top of this cake in a single layer.]
  7. Top with a few berries or even gold foil if you’ve got it.

PH’s Génoise
(from Desserts by Pierre Herme)

Butter                          4 tbsp
Eggs                             6
Sugar                           1 cup
AP Flour                     1 1/3 cups sifted

  1. Melt the butter over a double boiler and set aside to cool.
  2. Whisk together the eggs and sugar in the mixing bowl of your stand mixer.  Then, place the mixing bowl over a double boiler.
  3. Continue whisking until the mixture becomes foamy and slightly pale.  The temperature should be between 130ºF-140ºF.  Takes about 4 minutes.
  4. Put the mixing bowl back into the stand mixer and continue to beat on high until the mixture triples in volume and you reach the ribbon stage.  The batter should be pale and smooth.
  5. Stir 2 tbsp of the mixture into the butter and set-aside.
  6. Working with a large rubber spatula, gently fold the sifted flour into the bowl.  (You may need to add the flour 2-3 times by shaking it through a strainer).  Take care not to deflate the cake too much.
  7. When the flour is almost completely folded in, at the butter mixture and gently continue to fold 2 or 3 more times.
  8. Immediately pour the batter into a floured and dusted 9-inch cake pan.
  9. Bake at 350ºF for 30 minutes.
  10. Let rest in pan for 5 minutes before removing and cooling over a rack.

Chestnut Cream
(adapted from Daniel Boulud)

Heavy Cream or Creme Fraiche                               3/4 cup
Chestnut Paste                                                             1/4 cup  (I used Clément Faugier’s spreadable chestnut paste.)

  1. If using creme fraiche, you can just put all the ingredients in the mixing bowl and beat until you get stiff peaks.
  2. If using heavy cream, whip the heavy cream until you get soft peaks.
  3. Then add the chestnut paste.  Continue to whip until you get stiff peaks.

Chestnut Paste
(adapted from Daniel Boulud)

Chestnut Puree                                                           3/4 cup
Chestnut Paste                                                           1/2 cup (I used Clément Faugier’s spreadable chestnut paste.)
Rum                                                                               2 tbsp
Vanilla                                                                          1/2 tsp

  1. Put all ingredients in a food processor.  Puree until smooth. You really want to make sure there are no lumps, otherwise it won’t come out of the piping tip properly.