Getting to Know Pierre Hermé
Gitanjali Roche interviewed Pierre Hermé, dubbed by Vogue as The King Of Macaron.
Not only does he spend no time in an actual kitchen, but he also refuses to hold on to any culinary failures he might have encountered. Notorious for his original combinations of flavors in macarons and pastries, he likes a surprisingly simple breakfast made up of Sencha green tea, toast, fruit and yogurt. He also refuses to eat beef tongue.
Meet the man behind the macaron.
His earliest food memory:
“My father was a pastry maker and a baker, and I remember him making chocolate rabbits at Easter. The image of the excess chocolate dripping down the cooling racks is very vivid in my mind because it was my first real taste of milk chocolate. “
Comfort Food? No thanks!
"I hate the idea of comfort food! The concept of comfort is not what interests me in food; I'm interested in the discovery of new and different flavors, so it's a concept I don't believe in."
If he couldn’t bake, he would...
“...sell wine, because I love wine. Or I would be a perfume-maker. “
When invited to a dinner party, he brings...
“Macarons and desserts from my boutiques. People generally like that.” No kidding.
The ingredient and utensil he can't live without
Sugar and a thermometer.
On his cooking process
“I cook in my head. I imagine things and then I write them down. Then my colleagues work with me to do the first baking tests, then I taste what we have and decide if it works for me. I spend zero time in the kitchen - it’s all done in my head.”
How he comes up with unusual flavor combinations
“When I first start working on a product, I usually have an idea of the combination of flavors and textures that I’m after. Though there might be a discrepancy between the techniques, ingredients and textures that I chose and what I had in mind, it's dealt with during the third and fourth adjustments. I don't have the sensation of ‘difficulties’ or difficult flavor combinations.”
His top macaron-making tip
"A good macaron is the successful sum of many small details. It's a simple thing, and yet you need to have high-quality almonds, to respect the resting times and drying times...you really need to respect everything about the process.
What is very important is that when the egg whites have been whipped into a meringue with the sugar and almonds, we need to let the meringue settle (which in French is a process called 'macaronnage', hence their name). And this process is crucial.
Also, once your macarons are piped on the baking sheet in 4 centimeter circles, you have to hit the tray a few times so that the dough spreads out evenly. Then you let them 'crouter', or develop a crust, by letting them dry out for a few minutes."
Now that we've taught you how to make macarons, why don't you read about how to make Christophe Adam's world famous eclairs here?
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Chef Tips and Tricks
All you need is 3 main ingredients to make this Chocolate Strawberry Braid for dessert tonight!
- 7-9 medium-sized strawberries
- 1 puff pastry
- 1 chocolate bar
- 1 egg yolk
- Almond slivers
- Powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Cut the strawberries into halves.
- Dust some flour on a flat surface and spread your puff pastry out on top, smoothing it into a rectangle shape if necessary.
- Place the bar of chocolate in the center, then top with a layer of strawberry halves.
- Using a pizza cutter or a knife, slice the edges of the puff pastry into strips that can be wrapped over the chocolate and strawberries. Starting with the flap at the top, fold over each strip in a slightly diagonal direction so that they resemble a braid.
- Brush the braid with a beaten egg yolk so that it covers the entire visible surface.
- Sprinkle almond slivers on top.
- Bake for 20-22 minutes.
- Give the braid a few minutes to cool down, then cover with a dusting of powdered sugar.
- Serve and enjoy!