Ah, fall is right around the corner and you know what that means: colder days, longer nights, and a new collection of pastries by Pierre Hermé. This new collection, which was officially presented to the press in Tokyo, appeared in Parisian stores this past Thursday, and Louisa and I were there to greet it (and no, we didn't sleep on the doorstep).
Pierre Hermé's range of products includes entremets, tarts and classic French pastries, layered desserts in glasses (the Emotion line), cakes on a stick (the Mr H line), macarons, chocolate bites, bars and truffles, fruit pastes, little cookies and travel cakes, a line of viennoiseries (croissants, etc.) and one of ice-cream. Not all of these change at every new collection of course, but twice a year a dozen or so new items are introduced, replacing creations from the previous season, or adding to the corpus of "classics".
To make things easier for you when you step inside the boutique (dazed by the baking smells and confused by the multitude of items competing for your attention, waving their little arms and calling your name with their silent sugar voices), pastries from the new collection are indicated by blue labels. I am nowhere near having tasted all items from the permanent collection, but when I get a chance I like to taste the new creations because they're what the chef spent the past months on, they reflect his current inspirations and interests, and they are usually more daring, on a trial run for popularity.
Louisa and I chose a few of those new items and walked out to the Café de la Mairie, which serves as the unofficial salon de thé for Pierre Hermé aficionados, since the waiters will let you eat your purchases at their tables, provided you order a drink of course. This is so un-French it never ceases to amaze me, but I guess those guys know which side their entremet is glazed on.
So we sat at the terrace, ordered our token coffee and tea with glasses of water (very important), and proceeded to taste our selection.
First, we tried the Dune entremet, biscuit dacquoise pistache, crème légère à la pistache, praliné feuilleté au maïs grillé: soft layers of pistachio meringue and cream with specks of caramelized grilled corn and almonds in the middle, and decorated with shards of meringue. We enjoyed this, the pistachio flavor was authentic and not too obvious (as pistachio things tend to be), and the crunchy praliné in the center made for a nice textural difference. It was a little too sweet for my taste (but that's in fact a general tendency of Pierre Hermé's pastries).
We went on to taste the Instant entremet, gelée de thé earl-grey pointes blanches, ganache au thé, mousse et biscuit moelleux au chocolat: in a thin chocolate casing, layers of chocolate cake and chocolate mousse interspersed with a tea-flavored chocolate ganache and topped with an earl-grey jelly. I really liked the flavors of this one, the bergamot from the soft jelly and ganache blending beautifully with the chocolate -- the age-old citrus/chocolate pairing with a twist.
Then we moved on to the Emotion Mahogany (pictured above), compote de letchis, compote de mangues, biscuit dacquoise à la noix de coco, crème de mascarpone au caramel: layers of litchee and mango compotes, a soft coconut meringue, and caramel mascarpone cream topped with tiny coconut guimauves (the French marshmallows), in a little glass which (yay!) you get to keep. With every item from the Emotion line, you are instructed to dig your spoon all the way to the bottom of the glass to make sure you get a bit of everything in each bite. This was the definite winner in our selection, the flavors clean and fresh, the mix of textures subtle but successful, and the mini-guimauves delicious.
Finally, we tasted the new macaron called Plénitude (in reference to the same-name entremet), a chocolate macaron filled with a chocolate caramel ganache and specks of chocolate with fleur de sel. The innovative touch for this is that the macaron is bicolor, one side caramel, one side chocolate. This macaron was delicious (one can tell just from reading the description, no?) but we were not completely wowed: it didn't seem to add much to the current line of macarons, which already features a caramel and a chocolate one (and you are very welcome to smooch both together into one bicolor, double-decker, chocolate caramel macaron). Another bicolor macaron is due out on December 10th, featuring chestnut and églantine (dog rose, a wild rose flower). This sounds more promising and I'll be sure to try it and report back!
72 rue Bonaparte
01 43 54 47 77
Also at: 185 rue de Vaugirard
01 47 83 89 96
(Note that the Pierre Hermé website is scheduled to launch about a month from now.)
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