Macarons By Pierre Hermé
Grub Street, £25
Pierre Hermé, a fourth generation pastry chef from Alsace, France, is regarded as a bit of a rebel with a cause. His name is synonymous with quality, innovation, daring and fashion; albeit Hermé's new collections are intoxicating things of beauty that are edible.
He is probably most famous for taking the humble macaron - the simple title of his new, highly anticipated book - and turning it into a sexy aristocrat of the pastry world: something to salivate over and celebrate.
Hermé takes the basic macaron concept of brightly coloured mini almond meringues sandwiched with ganache a step further, adding small pieces of jelly or candied fruit to their centres. This has helped him create evocative flavour combinations such as the grapefruit Americano or osetra caviar and walnut brandy.
The book, a good size to have in the kitchen, is not designed to sit on the coffee table. Nor is it aimed either at the domestic cook or the hardened professional. Chef Hermé has created a fuss-free ‘childs play' guide to his macaron secrets.
The abundant photography is a joy - there are 133 pictures in this 205-page bible to all things macaron, which definitely provides the reader with a ‘food porn' fix.
After a brief introduction to our hero, Hermé, the book starts with the '32 steps to the successful macaron shells'. The step-by-step photography is as close as you can get to having the man himself standing over you, whispering words of encouragement.
Frequently asked questions, utensils, the revelation that chef Hermé grinds his own almonds, and guidelines including the importance of serving macarons at room temperature, are all reflected on before we even get to separate our whites from our yolks.
We are then presented with alluring chapter titles such as ‘classics ‘, ‘signature' and ‘fetish flavours'. Hermé features familiar flavours such as pistachio, coffee or raspberry alongside the likes of salted-butter caramel and raspberry, red pepper and Parmesan for the more adventurous.
From the beginning the book tries to convey the ease with which macarons can be assembled, following the understanding that good pâtisserie is similar to good science. In my experience, it still takes perseverance, skill and above all practice to master, which is why this tome is a great addition to any collection of cook books.
Toby Stuart, head chef, Roux at Parliament Square
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