In the fourth generation of a family of bakers and confectioners and, at 14, apprentice to Gaston Lenôtre, Pierre Hermé (1961– ) seems to have been destined to become one of the world’s most admired and successful French pastry chefs. By his mid-twenties he had already become the head Pastry Chef at Fauchon, the Parisian gourmet food shop.
In 1997, Hermé became the Vice President of Ladurée, and the following year he began opening his own eponymous pastry shops in Paris and Tokyo and, later, across Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. In 2007 Président Jacques Chirac honored Hermé’s contribution to French culture by naming him a Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur.
In 1998’s Desserts by Pierre Hermé, cookbook author extraordinaire Dorie Greenspan captured the magic of what has made Hermé’s pastry work so groundbreaking in quality of taste and texture.
With her vast cookbook writing experience and thorough knowledge of French patisserie, Greenspan adapts Hermé’s creations for the ambitious home cook. Every recipe tempts more than the next, but catching our eye with its playfulness is a crispy and creamy rice treat— rice pudding lined with lady fingers and topped with Nestle’s Crunch bars, hazelnuts, a chocolate crémeux and Rice Crispies. The autumn meringue cake layers disks of meringue with chocolate mousse, glazed with more chocolate. An apple galette makes up for the minimum of ingredients with a time commitment for apples that are slowly oven steamed for ten hours and chilled for another ten.
A brief selection of “basic recipes” at the start of the book begs for the creative cook to venture out on their own and experiment with creating their own concoctions. There is much to learn and fun to have with this now, sadly, out of print book.
We are fortunate to have a first edition copy signed by Pierre Hermé. Near Fine on all accounts.