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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Since visiting Paris in 1999 and falling in love with the beautiful patisseries and the delights they sell (often boxed in pretty individual boxes hand tied with satin ribbon), I'm always lurred into any shop labelling themselves a "patisserie." Granted, I'm not a major metropolitan type who is priveleged enough to live in upper Manhattan, but I've tried my fair share of sweets labelled as "French" and can tell good ones from bad. Presentation is nice, but in the end, if it doesn't taste good, I don't care about the sugar twirls on top.

It was this quest to experience the quality of Paris patisseries outside of Paris that led me to a specialty cookbook shop (oddly enough in upper Manhattan while on vacation a couple of years ago) where this book was recommended to me, if I had some affinity for baking. Now, I'm just a simple Illinois farm girl, but when my mother taught me to cook those "quick, simple, comfort foods" she still taught me how to measure properly. I figured the purchase price of the book was nothing compared to the money spent on all the awful desserts I'd tried in "American patisseries" over the years.

Yes, some of the recipes require trips to multiple specialty groceries to find a particular kind of chocolate or glaze. Yes, many are best made over a couple of days (so you're not tempted to take shortcuts that lead to failure). Yes, I've had a few that didn't "wow" me. Yes, I've had a couple of frustrations. (I can't roll the covering for the wedding cake and yet, I'd be willing to enter my good old American pie crusts in a competition.)

But, OMG! the charlotte, the creams, the combinations of flavor I'd never figure out on my own! Even a flop out of this book is better than most "French" desserts available in the US. Someone alluded to the fact that the basic recipes were cumbersome when there are others that are just as good, but easier to make in other sources. I can't speak to that since this is the only French dessert book I own.

I haven't had a problem with the lemon cream that others complain about, but I can see where there's a very narrow window between cooling the cream and adding the butter in small amounts fast enough in a powerful blender while it's still warm enough to blend properly. I also attempted to save time by buying the ladyfingers for the charlotte once: what a mistake! Once you've made your own ladyfingers, you'd be insane to buy the stale things they import from Italy!

In the end, if you're after the flavor and consistency of Parisian pastries, this book delivers. If "pretty" is all you care about: thaw your Sara Lee and throw some chocolate curls on top! You may feel you've delivered, but guests with a discerning palatte will know the difference!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I originally was exposed to Pierre Herme's recipes through a calendar which had 12 of the recipes that are in this book. I tried most of them, and totally impressed my French friends. That calendar of course was not very convenient to keep using! I was thrilled to find this book, with even more spectacular desserts in it. I have to agree with lisamuss (I think), this is not for a quick family dessert, but for extra special occasions. They DO take a long time, but I have found the results to be worth the effort. I have made the cake shown on the cover quite a few times, the only time it flopped was because I didn't follow the directions - and even then it was delicious. The Riviera cake I make whenever I have company coming that I want to impress, I use raspberries and it is ALWAYS a hit. The chocolate pudding with raspberry coulis is to die for, my daughter wants me to make that at her wedding instead of a cake!

I think a person needs to realize these are special recipes, expensive, and they will take a long time (like, most of the day). BUT when you really want to impress, this is the best book ever.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Being a pastry chef, I have tried a lot of dessert recipes. I have to say, the recipes in this book are truly special. The lemon cream (in lemon tart) and Philadelphia cheese cake in particular are tremendous... The cheese cake, I omitted the topping and used fresh mangos instead of cherries, and still it was gorgeous - light as air, not too sweet, with just enough gelatin to hold everything in place. I do think the recipes require a fair amount of skills in pastry, but the book does a good job of explaining each step if you read carefully. If you try a recipe once and it goes wrong, I would recommend trying it again. Even chefs make mistakes all the time. I admit the first time I made lemon cream it didn't set because I neglected to use the immersion blender at the end. Well now I know better. I can't wait to make everything else in the book.
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Herme's book has a lot of delicious-sounding recipes for pastry, but it just seems too complicated. One particularly yummy-sounding recipe contains apples cooked with butter and sugar for 10 hours and combined with cinnamon pastry, genoise, and (I think) a bavarian cream filling. I think I'll wait until I can get to Fauchon in Paris to try his creations, though. Also, there aren't pictures for every dessert, which is a little annoying when the recipes are so involved. Still, if you like to spend hours creating a dessert based on 5 other recipes, you might want to buy this book! I would recommend Simply Sensational Desserts or The Village Baker's Wife over this.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 19, 1999
Format: Hardcover
a former pastry chef on Martha's vinyard who would order dessert first before the entre, I raced to the kitchen to make the coconut loaf and the raspberry genoise. Was truly rewarded with delicous results, good tips for successful execution.by sally larhette
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2010
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This book is a real good investment.
One more time P.Herme gives us all his secrets for success.
If you really follow the recipe, you obtain exactly what is on the picture... that's extremely rare.

In the first part of the book the authors describe how to prepare the generic/basic elements repeatedly used in the following tarts/cake/loaf/biscuits recipes.
These protocols can be used for a lot of everyday life cooking applications: really precious.

And then come the full recipes... each of them being a little treasure of flavors and smells...

I warmly recommend it !!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book reflects this trend of clean flavors and delightful tastes. I have had the opportunity to make many of the recipes in this book and though a little daunting at times the outcome was never a disapointment. I find myself still going back to this book for ideas years later for Grand Buffets on holidays. I often recommend this book for young Pastry Chefs to look at and to make some of the recipes. This book is a delight and should find a home in any Home or Professional Chef's Library.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
First of all, the deserts are not really the patisserie level desserts, dissapointed.Also less photos than expected.
Second, why in the hell convert the initial metric ingredients to volume and not leave the initial metric? Does not Mrs. Dorie Greenspan think that since Pierre Herme is a European pastry chef some folks back in Europe might be interested in the book as well...And we just don't have the habit of using cups and spoons, we weigh our ingredients so do most professional chefs both in the old and new world.
Overall, not impressed with the book and would return it if only I lived in the States.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
My wife bakes quite frequently. She has a library full of cookbooks. I bought this for her birthday, after reading a variety of positive reviews. She has enjoyed using this book, as she likes to modify some of the recipes. The photos are beautifully presented in glossy color. So far, she has found it an asset to her collection.
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on March 31, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This book is from the Patisserie master Pierre Herme, in partnership with Dorie Greesnpan, so it is an amazing book. The recipes on this book are not for beginners but you can succeed following the instructions, with attention and a little bit of effort. The pictures on this book did not inspire me as PASTRY's pictures do (other of Pierre Herme's books). No doubt it is a well written book and a must have for people that take Pastry crafts seriously. Herme has a very interesting approach on how to mix ingredients and there is a lot to learn from The Master Alchemist of Flavors's Harmonization! Anyway, it is not an easy book for someone that does not have some baking experience even if the recipes are very detailed and very well explained, step by step. If you are not afraid of a challenge and want to upgrade your skills, this is the book for you!
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