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Desserts by Pierre Herme Hardcover – November 2, 1998

4.1 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Master pastry chef Pierre Hermé creates desserts that look too good to be eaten. Whether your own renditions will look quite as exquisite is another question! But finding out is definitely worth the time investment. Here are Lemon Crepes to die for, a Golden Pearl Brownie cake that will send your taste buds spinning in an orgy of taste, and delicate Orange Tuiles that are so light and dainty they practically melt in your mouth. A majority of the recipes do require some more advanced culinary skills--and a patient disposition. A Warm Chocolate and Banana Tart requires that the tart's filling of chocolate and butter be cooled to 104 degrees, and then be cooked for exactly 11 minutes. Thankfully, Desserts offers a wealth of helpful information for cooks--listing the essential equipment and ingredients required for pastry perfection and a dictionary of dessert terms. Beautiful photographs make the desserts shimmer in a translucent light, crying out for you to try your hand at creating them. So, with a little endurance and love, you will be well rewarded with your choice of more than 100 heavenly desserts. --Naomi Gesinger

From Publishers Weekly

Herm?, a celebrated French pastry chef who was not only the youngest person ever to be named France's Pastry Chef of the Year but is also the only pastry chef to have been decorated as a Chevalier of Arts and Letters, exports his wizardry to America for the first time in a book that will primarily attract ambitious confectioners. Veteran food writer Greenspan (Baking with Julia) warns that the book's recipes require technical skill and patience. For Flourless Chocolate Cake Batter, the chocolate must be melted and then cooled to 114 degrees. The recipe for Genoise is "temperamental." Fragile is a word applied to Perfect Tart Dough and many other recipes that call for some tricky assemblage. Unexpected ingredients include the one and a half cups of corn in Golden Lemon Fruit Layers; the basil chiffonade garnishing Basmati Rice and Fruits-of-the-Moment Salad; the black pepper and an optional sliver of a haba?ero that spark Warm Chocolate and Banana Tart. For some, a slice of Carioca made of alternating layers of genoise and dark chocolate mousse, topped with bittersweet ganache and glazed almonds, will make all the work worthwhile. Ambitious cooks with steady nerves will find welcome inspiration here. Agent, Jane Dystel.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (November 2, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316357200
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316357203
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 1.1 x 11.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #213,941 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
After reading all the other reviewers who either gushed over or maligned this book, I felt compelled to give yet another opinion which I hope will clarify the polarized opinions on this cookbook.
First, if you are looking to find a cookbook on comfort food or "the-way-Mom-used-to-make-it-desert" for your next family gathering, DON'T GET THIS ONE. Also, if you're on a frugal budget or a time crunch, again, LOOK ELSWHERE. This is one of the GREATEST patisserie chefs in the world. And he gives us in his cookbook all the extravagance, style, taste and showmanship that title carries. The recipes are expensive, time consuming and sometimes tricky. They contain specialty ingredients and use specialty tools. Any substitutions based on economy or convenience will probably result in failure.
On the other hand, if you long to create something really extraordinary and impressive and have the time and pocketbook to match don't hesitate to get this. Although some ingredients are special, they are not so hard to obtain. If you can read and write, you can cook from this. Both experienced and beginner cooks. I can't account for a previous reviewer who complained about confusing directions. All I can say about that is some people don't bother reading directions thoroughly, make a mess, and then blame the directions. I have baked time and again from this book, from the simple and delicious coconut pound cake to the spectacular and complex "Melody," and never a glitch in the preparation. I have to tell my guests that I made it. They always just assume its created by a professional chef and ask me for his number.
So there you have it. Know yourself before you decide to spend the money on this one. Definetely for the serious cook only.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a long review, in which I relate in detail my experience with one basic recipe which illustrates my overall impression of the book. Sometimes the method is unusual and produces fantastic results but ONLY AFTER you've made the first, experimental batch that might go to waste. I want to preface the review by saying that I have been baking for years, am familiar with all the basic techniques and have experience making complicated cakes and pastries that require multiple steps. And while some things I am better at (nut meringue anyone? the prefect choux paste?) than others (oh, not another curdled custard @@#%$), the one thing I am truly good at is following the instructions, to the letter. SO here goes:

This book is not for a beginner. If you don't have any other books on baking in your collection, don't make this the first one because some recipes need to be compared with those in other books.

Case in point: BUTTER CREAM
I bought special European butter and fresh eggs from the local farm. I followed instructions to the letter even though one part of the recipe really went against my instincts and previous experience with butter cream: the amount of sugar. The recipe calls for 3 CUPS OF SUGAR for 7 EGG Yolks and about a POUND OF BUTTER. Now, 3 cups sounded way too much for the amount of other ingredients but I went ahead anyway. Well it turned out that 7 yolks cannot absorb this much sugar syrup, and instead of acquiring the lovely marshmallow texture while being beaten and cooling with the syrup, they turn into dry powdery mixture. Even though they did not look right, I went ahead and added all the crazily expensive butter to it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Master pastry chef Pierre Herme has created a delightful book filled with more than enough taste treats to satisfy even the most sated dessert gourmand. On first glance, each recipe appears difficult to construct; each contains a multiple amount of steps most of which require parchment paper and pastry bag utilization--not the standards of most amateur bakers. Not worth the fuss? Au contraire! Pierre's ultimate products are fabulous--the tastes and textures meld together to form not only a tasty finish to any meal, but create perfect confections that are also a feast for the eyes.
The book is divided into 4 main sections: Pierre's basic recipes, Fruits, Creams and Cookies, Tarts and Tartlets and Cakes. A Dictionary of Terms, Techniques, Equipment and Ingredients as well as a Source Guide round out the book. I guarantee that the hands-on experience of creating at least one of these dessert extravaganzas will act as your own personal primer to pastry-making, igniting your passion for the French patisserie and insuring that you purchase all other books by M. Herme. My own interest in the book was cultivated by seeing M. Herme in action on Martha Stewart's kitchen where he piped the beautiful and delicious pear and fig tartlet with such an easy perfection I was astounded. Bought the book the next day and was not sorry!
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Format: Hardcover
I was surprised to see a reader's diasppointment with a book I love. Desserts by Pierre Herme is an accurate and faithful rendering of the work of France's most celebreated pastry chef by an author well accustomed to translating the work of professionals into consumer terms. And despite the reader's disappointment with the lack of weights provided for the ingredients, the recipes work well -- I know, since I have tried many of them.
About measuring: There are accurate and inaccurate methods of measuring, both by weight and volume. The right way to measure by volume is to gently spoon dry ingredients into a dry measure cup ans level off with the back of a knife or spatula. The right way to measure by weight is to use an accurate scale. Many scales made for home use are not particularly sensetive and will yeild no better results than by volume measure. To say nothing of the fact that every day, millions of people follow volume-measure recipes with good results -- what's the problem?
Some authors do include weights for ingredients -- I did so in my first book, Perfect Pastry -- I no longer do, because I don't consider it important. Neither does Maida Heatter -- is there a more successful and accuracy-based author than Maida? I don't think so.

Nick Malgieri
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