Friday, November 10, 2006


If you've pretty much tried every recipe in Desserts by Pierre Hermé and Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé - the two most readily available books by the French pastry demi-god in English - and await with bated breath the day they decide to translate ph10, what to do in the interim? Why, go backwards (chronologically) and find a copy of La Pâtisserie de Pierre Hermé of course. While it doesn't benefit from Ms Dorie Greenspan's generosity with exhaustive detail in a recipe, what this comprehensive tome does is chart the signature creations of his pre-ph, pre-Ladurée, 11-year reign at Fauchon - fascinating stuff, especially for dessert dorks. This being back in the day, most of the desserts are very classic in presentation. Nonetheless, despite their elegant, old school garb, they feature the unexpected yet brilliant combinations of tastes and textures that have become synonymous with the pastry chef.

Ever wondered how to achieve those snazzy special effects showcased in the window displays of Paris' haute pâtisseries? All the trucs of the trade are here. For instance, to "print" a striped design on biscuit joconde (used to line the sides of the Élysée), spread a thin, even layer of pâte à cigarette (which can be tinted any colour you wish, or coloured/flavoured with cocoa in this particular instance) over a silicone mat and drag a decorating comb across the surface to trace the lines, removing excess cigarette batter from the comb between each pass. Freeze this, then spread a thin, even layer of joconde batter on top. Once baked, the design you've created with cigarette batter is embedded in the joconde sheet. The sheet is cut to size to line the inner sides of the mold intended for your cake.

When I realized how biscuit joconde imprimé is far less tricksy to do than it looks, my mind boggled with the possibilities beyond straightforward stripes - move the comb this way and that to create wavy or diagonal markings, use combs with more widely or narrowly spaced teeth, get down with a piping bag, check out funky stencils at the craft and art supplies shops, or even go all Martha, make a trip to the hardware store, and customise your own stencils armed with nothing more than acetate sheets and a trusty Stanley knife...

The Élysée comprises of layers of chocolate cake soaked in an Earl Grey tea syrup, chocolate mousse, and Earl Grey tea mousse, and is finished with a chocolate glaze. I love the way Earl Grey goes with chocolate - the bergamot really enhances the flavour, particularly if you use a chocolate with fruity notes (I used Manjari 64%).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I stumbled on to your blog a couple of weeks and am addicted to it! Your creations and photographs are breathtaking...~Blogger in Boston.

2:23 am, November 10, 2006  
Blogger Plume said...

Beautiful, as allways!
I first thought it was a stack of rounds of sponge and chocolate cream, and I was wondering how on earth could it be so even...

2:43 am, November 10, 2006  
Blogger *fanny* said...

Hi J,
this is so stunning.
It simply looks PERFECT!!
The PERFECT stripped biscuit joconde.
The PERFECT glaze.
And the PERFECT finishing touch - the gold leaf!

I think that your ability to create such pieces of art will never cease to amaze me.
And to use your own words - if Pierre Hermé is the Picasso of pastry, then you are Picasso's sister!

J, i love Pierre Hermé's work so much and now i love yours the same way.

- fanny

2:53 am, November 10, 2006  
Blogger CM said...

This dessert is hot!
Coincidentially, I made some earl grey truffles this morning.
Thanks for such beautiful pictures and your words.

3:27 am, November 10, 2006  
Blogger Sigrid said...

oh hell! how on earth do you manage to make these things??? Really, I just have no words, this elysée is ... well... yeah, that's what I said. no words at all :-))
(I must confess it's been almost a year since I have PH10 on the bookshelve and I've tried, well, '0' recipies till now, I'm actually feeling quite ashamed right now.... )

4:18 am, November 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only trouble I constantly find with your articles is finding droole on my keyboards. You can have a job in my pastry kitchen anyday.

5:01 am, November 10, 2006  
Blogger Anne said...

STUNNING, as always. Though for a seasoned pastry maker such as you, the process may not seem tricky, I can only imagine the mess I would make if I even attempted it.

5:38 am, November 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazing as always.

6:18 am, November 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't you find it strange they don't extol the striped joconde more in pastry books when it's really not that difficult to do? Yours is perfection, as always!

7:02 am, November 10, 2006  
Blogger Catherine said...

OMG! That's the most perfect looking cake I've ever seen! Earl Grey Tea syrup - yeah!

10:58 am, November 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perfect. Stunning. Beautiful. Amazing.
Everything's taken.
You inspire dreams.

10:15 pm, November 10, 2006  
Blogger Cathy said...

Have to laugh at Tanna's comment, I was thinking that very thing - every superlative has been taken! I'm in awe Jocelyn, I can't believe you made that - so beautiful. I just recently got both the Dorie Greenspan books at an unbelievable price. Now I'm wishing I had this one too, but did you see the price on the one used copy for sale on Amazon??

10:57 pm, November 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

getting into your blog makes me feel like i'm walking into a very medieval and enchanting forest.. i'm almost expecting to meet a unicorn or a virgin, depending on whih i happen to be!

What a marvelous looking treat and your photos... the information you pass along the way, so very very useful; soon, we start to crave only for your desserts..

If you ever do this profesionally (self trained or otherwise), please remember to let us know on the blog..

I'll be the one that requests special birthday cake with 12 dessert creations; each within it's own unique sugar designed cage/case to be composed as 1 cake - yes, that's right i would love to see your creations working with sugar, colours, shapes, flavours - and how the cases match the gems you have within.. oh yes, 2 have to be frozen desserts.. hope it does not seem like an impossible birthday cake!

All the success with your passion; and it is a rare gift, passion and talent.

12:31 am, November 11, 2006  
Blogger Krithika said...

Stunning creation !

1:01 am, November 11, 2006  
Blogger Chubbypanda said...


Every time I stop by your blog, I want to stick my hands in a blender. It's amazing how skilled you are, particularly since you're an amateur. When I was younger, I worked at a very well know French bakery in Silicon Valley. The head pastry chef there was remarkably skilled, but even she would have a hard time matching some of your creations.

Overwhelmingly impressive.

- Chubbypanda

7:20 am, November 11, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I adore what you do.

You are absolutely incredible.

10:41 am, November 11, 2006  
Blogger Vivilicious said...

Hey J., So that who you've been keeping busy with, M. Hermé humself, lucky sod. The Elysée is stunning, but what else is new eh? We've come to expect that of you anyhow! Now if only I could work up the nerve to try this at home (ever th8nk of putting a disclaimer on your blog? You know, "This was created by a true professional, don't even THINK of trying this" or something along those lines ;-)

11:49 am, November 11, 2006  
Blogger Rachael Narins said...

I didnt understand a word of that, but I am still in awe.



1:46 am, November 12, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


7:14 pm, November 12, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Absolutely amazing. Simple, understated and superb - that little fleck of gold on top just kills me with the elegance it adds!

8:30 pm, November 12, 2006  
Blogger Lilo said...

It is absolutely magnificent, which talent!

12:48 am, November 13, 2006  
Blogger Brilynn said...

Just beautiful.
I need to get my hands of some of Pierre Hermes books.

1:21 am, November 13, 2006  
Blogger Astrid said...

I too can't wait till they translate PH10 if it means you'll be sharing more works of art like this one! Maybe I can translate those recipes that interest you? It would be worth it just to see what you would make of them.

3:57 am, November 13, 2006  
Blogger Edith said...

This is so beautiful. I wish you have some pictures to show how you created this.

9:48 am, November 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi, could you please tell me where you got the hemisphere moulds from to make e punto dessert haven't seen them at phoon huat



12:31 am, November 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Impossible. Humanly impossible, but you've done it again.

Did I mention: beautiful?

12:35 am, November 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks to you, J, I now have $700 worth of dessert books sitting on my amazon wish list (no, not even I am deluded enough to actually place them in my basket for the time being!). I keep telling myself how silly it is to even covet them, since I have made it through exactly one recipe in the two P.H. books I own, but all it takes is one look at these insanely beautiful works of edible art for me to covet them even more...

4:13 am, November 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is awesome, amazing, brilliant...perfect as always! You're just talented!

5:02 am, November 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

exquisite work! i love the detail on the side of the cake and definitely Hermes is the god of everything!

12:41 pm, November 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

very good!

6:25 pm, November 16, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man this made me hugry...looks very good...nice pictures..very good article as well.looking forward to reading some more posts placed on this topic...will be checking this page again..have saved in favorites and bookmarked...thanks

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4:50 am, November 22, 2006  
Blogger Celine said...

that cake looks amazing

11:26 pm, November 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joycelyn, another exquisite creation of yours... I wish I could try this right now, they look absolutely wonderful. There's no way I can afford the ph10 or translate it, so thanks again for the recommendation (and yes, yet another one in my wish list...)

9:55 pm, December 03, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I came across your website while goggling for macaron recipe. You are indeed fantastic with all your pics and i can love reading your posts!

12:15 pm, May 07, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I absolutely love Pierre Herme's work.
Unfortunatly, the only one of his books I own is "Larousse Du Chocolat" which is in french. I picked it up in Montreal a few years ago.
Whenever I want a challenge, I try to translate his recipes into english and make them myself.

1:02 am, January 17, 2009  

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