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"Chocolate Desserts" by Pierre Herme (Part 1)


SethG
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edit: One thing I did was cut up some of my leftover chocolate and strew them evenly in the mousse.

:huh:

You're kidding, right Ling? There couldn't have been any leftover chocolate at your house. :wink:

I bought two 100 gram bittersweet Lindt bars, and the recipe only calls for 170 grams. :raz:

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Finally made the Chocolate Mousse today. I must say that I could probably finish all that luscious goodness in one sitting......

One thing that I really would like to attempt to make is Herme's La Cerise sur le Gateau (The Cherry on the Cake) - the cake that looks like a giant slice of chocolate cake. Has anyone ever made it?

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Edited by lannie (log)
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Lannie -- your mousse looks luscious.

But, about making The Cherry on the Cake: Do not try this at home. The Cherry on the Cake is made in a specially designed plaster mold, the kind you'd use if you were making pottery. The original cake is shaped in this wedge-shaped mold and includes six servings, each with the same elements of tempered chocolate, praline, meringue, ganache and whipped cream, all made with milk chocolate, as is the outer shell. It's topped with a glaceed cherry and the portions are marked with gold leaf. It's magnificent, but I can't imagine any ordinary mortal making this at home. (Actually, I don't know you. Are you an ordinary mortal or are you a professional pastry chef? I should have asked first.)

However, Plaisir Sucre, in the book, Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme, has all the elements of the molded cake minus the mold. And, although it is definitely a project, it is do-able at home.

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(Actually, I don't know you.  Are you an ordinary mortal or are you a professional pastry chef? I should have asked first.)

However, Plaisir Sucre, in the book, Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme, has all the elements of the molded cake minus the mold. And, although it is definitely a project, it is do-able at home.

Thank you for the information, Dorie! It is such a pleasure to have you on the boards to answer our queries.

I am but simply a mere mortal who is an aspiring pastry chef (alas, not quite there yet). I am thinking of attempting to make the Plaisir Sucre, but in a wedge shape. It probably will not be as angular or refined as the one made in the mould, but, it would be fun to give it a go. I just love the whimsy of the gigantic wedge of cake!

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lannie,

I made the Plaisir Sucre and arranged it inside a hollow shell of chocolate. I made eight individual desserts, rather than one big cake. I haven't been able to find anything "cake slice" shaped to use as a mold, so mine were rather flat chocolate box shapes.

Dorie,

I have only seen a picture of the whole "Cherry on the cake". Would you explain why it is so difficult to replicate?

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When your folding a cold item into warm chocolate it is a bit tricky. But theres a couple things you can do to assure success. Your chocolate should be rather warm, just finished melting (around 110F to 115F) . When it's very warm it gives you the time you need to incorporate the whipped cream into the chocolate before the chocolate tightens up from the cream. If you use just slightly warm chocolate (at 100F or lower), it will sieze up before you can throughly fold in your whipped cream. You also might find it easier to add the whipped cream in 2 stages. Putting only half in at first gives you a smaller volume to handle and throughly blend into the chocolate. The mixture won't look light and fluffy, you have to give it some force to blend throughly. Don't stop, then add the second half of your cream and that half will lighten it up.

Thanks for the feedback Wendy. My chocolate had probably cooled down too far, I had set it aside while heating the sugar syrup.

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R Washburn -- In answer to why PH's Cherry on the Cake is so hard to replicate -- where to begin? I think the difficulty starts with the shape. The cake is 9 or 10 inches tall (I'm estimating from memory) and shaped like a giant wedge of cake. Looking at the uncut cake, what you see is a seamless shell of tempered milk chocolate. That shell cannot be made in a standard pan nor can it be made freehand. It is made in a mold, not unlike the molds used to make porcelain, which was designed by Yann Pennor's. The look of the cake is spectacular -- and it is this look that is unachievable in a home kitchen. Actually, it's pretty much unachievable in any kitchen, because of the special mold (which, I think, might be trademarked -- not sure). However, as I mentioned, the "innards" of the cake can be made at home and the recipe, Plaisir Sucre (revised somewhat to account for things like praline paste not being readily available to American home bakers -- at least it wasn't when the book was written) is in CDPH. Oh, the other unreplicatable piece of The Cherry on the Cake, and it's part of what makes the dessert such a showstopper, is the box, again designed by Pennor's. It is a three-sided box, tied with a ribbon on top. When you undo the ribbon, the sides of the box fall away and the cake, with its big, fat, bright red cherry on top, appears, almost like a clown jumping out of a jack-in-the-box.

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R Washburn -- In answer to why PH's Cherry on the Cake is so hard to replicate -- where to begin?  I think the difficulty starts with the shape.  The cake is 9 or 10 inches tall (I'm estimating from memory) and shaped like a giant wedge of cake.  Looking at the uncut cake, what you see is a seamless shell of tempered milk chocolate.  That shell cannot be made in a standard pan nor can it be made freehand.  It is made in a mold, not unlike the molds used to make porcelain, which was designed by Yann Pennor's.  The look of the cake is spectacular -- and it is this look that is unachievable in a home kitchen.  Actually, it's pretty much unachievable in any kitchen, because of the special mold (which, I think, might be trademarked -- not sure).  However, as I mentioned, the "innards" of the cake can be made at home and the recipe, Plaisir Sucre (revised somewhat to account for things like praline paste not being readily available to American home bakers -- at least it wasn't when the book was written) is in CDPH.  Oh, the other unreplicatable piece of The Cherry on the Cake, and it's part of what makes the dessert such a showstopper, is the box, again designed by Pennor's.  It is a three-sided box, tied with a ribbon on top.  When you undo the ribbon, the sides of the box fall away and the cake, with its big, fat, bright red cherry on top, appears, almost like a clown jumping out of a jack-in-the-box.

wow.

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I concur... Wow. That La Cerise sur le Gateau is a masterpiece, and does sound almost impossible to replicate without the proper mould. I would love to be able to actually see it in all its glory one day (missed a chance to visit the Herme shop in Tokyo last year - went to the old Tokyu Honten location and discovered that it had closed and moved to the Hotel Otani. D'oh!).

R Washburn, thanks for telling about your experience with the Plaisir Sucre - your individual chocolate boxes sounded cool!

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I know I am a late starter. I was also inspired to start learning how to take better food photos, so I tried that here. One thing I want to say about the raspberry tart is that it tastes a LOT better with the creme anglaise. I first served it straight. Ouch. Too rich even with the sourness of berries (and I added more raspberries than they called for) :raz: , then I had to go make the sauce. It tastes now like the restaurant stuff.

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I see that the pics do show, but why are they so small? Can anyone give me a clue?

"Mom, why can't you cook like the iron chef?"
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gallery_26083_699_653610.jpg

gallery_26083_699_62291.jpg

I see that the pics do show, but why are they so small?  Can anyone give me a clue?

You are linking to the 80x60 pixel thumbnails rather than to the full-size images. To display the full-size images, you need to view it via ImageGullet, and click on the 'click for actual URL.' This will diplay the URL for the full-size image. Or you can just change the 'tn_gallery' in the image URL to 'gallery.'

EDIT: I changed the image URLs so that they point to the full-size images.

Edited by Patrick S (log)

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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You are linking to the 80x60 pixel thumbnails rather than to the full-size images.  To display the full-size images, you need to view it via ImageGullet, and click on the 'click for actual URL.' This will diplay the URL for the full-size image. Or you can just change the tn_gallery in the image URL to gallery.

Thanks, Patrick. You know your photos have inspired us to read the manual of that digital camera. :rolleyes: At least the slice on the plate looks half decent. My husband thinks I am VERY strange shooting series of photos of food on table.

"Mom, why can't you cook like the iron chef?"
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You are linking to the 80x60 pixel thumbnails rather than to the full-size images.  To display the full-size images, you need to view it via ImageGullet, and click on the 'click for actual URL.' This will diplay the URL for the full-size image. Or you can just change the tn_gallery in the image URL to gallery.

Thanks, Patrick. You know your photos have inspired us to read the manual of that digital camera. :rolleyes: At least the slice on the plate looks half decent. My husband thinks I am VERY strange shooting series of photos of food on table.

You're welcome, TurtleMeng. You tart looks good.

I'm glad I inspired you to read the manual. Dont worry that you look strange taking those pictures -- I want to see as many as I can. I wish everyone posted pics.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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We had a team effort make the Merliton Tart from the Dessert book. We did it with a few variations. The recipe called for two navel oranges. We used two heirloom navels, a pink grapefruit and a blood orange. In addition, since we didn't have almonds, but did have crushed Sicilian Pistachio, we used that.

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This was the fruit layed out in the crust prior to inclusion of the custard.

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The custard added, but not yet baked.

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The final product.

I don't know if our substitutions had a significant impact or not on the final product, although it was slightly disappointing. The crust was superb, but the overall tart was too sweet without enough citrus presence in the flavor. The fruit itself was topnotch. I wonder if some zest added to the custard would have helped? It could have stood to have had a little more acid for better balance. Interestingly, we had a 2000 reisling ice wine from Thirty Bench (Niagara Peninsula, Ontario) with this that was the epitome of sweetness balanced by acid.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Good looking tarts, turtlemeng and docscons.

Thanks for pointing out the impact of the creme angaise with the raspberry tart, turtlemeng.

And docscons, why don't you overnight a slice of that disappointing tart so I can verify that for you? :wink:

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And docscons, why don't you overnight a slice of that disappointing tart so I can verify that for you?  :wink:

It wasn't so disappointing that it resisted the predations of my family and our guests! :laugh:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Docs, i do not have that recipe unfortunately, but if at any point you bring cream to a boil zest your citrus fruits into the 1/3 of the cream and bring to a boil. Allow cream to steep for about 20 minutes. Strain citrus cream and bring that cream plus remaining cream to a boil and continue with recipe.

If at no point there was not cream being heated you could also add candied citrus peel to the tart, but if you do that and considering you also stated it was too sweet I would reduce the sugar by about 10%.

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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If you were to make that tart again I would like to suggest these few changes: You can definately do as Chiantiglace mentioned, steeping your zest in your cream for a little while. Also you can take your zest and cusinart it with your sugar to make a citrus sugar. I find that to give me alot of impact (it really releases the oils from the zest). Also you can buy citrus oils (orange, lemon, lime tangerine)...........and a little dash of that is a fabulous flavor enhancer (in anything with citrus over tones).

Last, if there is a next time, I also think you'd be happier if you cut back on the amount of fruit you added. I'd stick to the recipe because the extra moisture the citrus wedges put into your custard, will impact it.

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If you were to make that tart again I would like to suggest these few changes: You can definately do as Chiantiglace mentioned, steeping your zest in your cream for a little while. Also you can take your zest and cusinart it with your sugar to make a citrus sugar. I find that to give me alot of impact (it really releases the oils from the zest). Also you can buy citrus oils (orange, lemon, lime tangerine)...........and a little dash of that is a fabulous flavor enhancer (in anything with citrus over tones).

Last, if there is a next time, I also think you'd be happier if you cut back on the amount of fruit you added. I'd stick to the recipe because the extra moisture the citrus wedges put into your custard, will impact it.

Wendy, thanks for the suggestions. I think adding the zest with the sugar or some citrus oil would improve the product. I am not so sure that we added too much fruit, however. The recipe was very imprecise as to how much fruit was actually called for. It asked for two navel oranges, but did not suggest size. The fruit we used was small and we did leave it out to dry for about 14 hours as the recipe called for. The custard quality was actually excellent. The problem was that the tart was imbalanced towards sweetness with little citrus essence despite the fruit. Thinking about it, I guess this is fairly common with a lot of fruit tarts, which may be why they don't generally appeal to me more than they do. I figured that a citrus tart would be more, well...tart.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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After reading all the praises and seeing the awesome photos.. I bought the book today.. I want to thank the girl working at william sonoma in the Time Warner building for helping my girlfriend out.. Thanks you for the help..

We made a mousse and have four tarte shells made.. Going to make a couple of them tomorrow..

The mousse came out great.. So many holes very airy.. Cant wait to get started with this book .

gallery_15057_181_977219.jpg

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Looks good, Daniel! I want to make that mousse again soon, but with coffee-infused milk. And I assure you that buying the book was a wise choice.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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After reading all the praises and seeing the awesome photos.. I bought the book today..  I want to thank the girl working at william sonoma in the Time Warner building for helping my girlfriend out.. Thanks you for the help..

We made a mousse and have four tarte shells made.. Going to make a couple of them tomorrow.. 

The mousse came out great.. So many holes very airy.. Cant wait to get  started with this book .

gallery_15057_181_977219.jpg

Yeh this is why egullet is good and bad.. At one point i enjoyed this dessert at La Cote Basque.. I made this dessert today and then went to dinner.. I tell you, i took two bites out of my dessert and was very dissappointed.. This place has nothing on Pierre.. Recognize! :biggrin:

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Edited by Daniel (log)
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I do need to make that mousse. Looks good, Daniel.

If anyone in the US is still looking for the pans to do the fave cake in, you may want to check out the TJMaxx and Marshall's outlets if you have one nearby. I picked up two 18X9 cm Chicago Mettalic Commercial loaf pans that are marked as a Baker's Catalogue exclusive. So they must have discontinued them, or are no longer an exclusive, and are clearing them out through the discounters. They are mislabeled slightly as 7"X3"X2" (18X8X5 cm), but measure 7X 3 1/2 (18X9 cm) exterior bottom. These are not aluminum, rather aluminized steel.

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Today I made Herme's Korova cookies, which are not in CDBPH, but are in Paris Sweets, as discussed several pages ago on this thread.

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I couldn't make them look too impressive in the picture, but they are great cookies. If they'd existed at the time, I'm sure Dorie would have included them in CDBPH, as they are a perfect fit for the book: sable cookies, made with chocolate cocoa and including chunks of bittersweet chocolate.

They are very buttery. They have some crunch but remain a little moist and chewy. When I served them today they were a big hit.

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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