Pierre Hermé Macarons & Chocolats adds class and colour to macarons in France!

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Before visiting France in the past week, I had no knowledge of top patisseries in a country that is hailed as the temple of pastry, not only in ingredients but also in its presentation. I was recommended a number of top Paris patisseries by Foxcroft Chef and co-owner Glen Williams, on request, and Pierre Hermé was one of them. Pierre Hermé has been called the ‘Picasso of Pastry’.

I first saw a Pierre Hermé outlet at Galeries Lafayette in Nice, and was struck by the colorful presentation of its macarons.  I was on a different mission in the department store, and had planned the patisserie outing for Paris. However I could not resist photographing a box of multi-coloured macarons.

In Paris I visited the Pierre Hermé branch on rue Sainte-Croux-de-la-Bretonnerie. The outlet was not very big, but larger than the subsequent patisserie outlets I visited. One is visually attracted to the macarons first, but I realized that there is a host of other products that is sold in Pierre Hermé outlets, including hot chocolate (photograph bottom right), wafers, biscuits, chocolate truffles, jams, teas, Nutella-type hazelnut spread, caramels, nougat, sorbets and ice cream, chocolate slabs, Rocky Road, and chocolate-coated finger biscuits. I was impressed with the number of books Pierre Hermé and his fellow patisseriers in Paris have published. Via Google I found reference to 40 books written by Pierre Hermé, the first published in 1991, and the latest books ‘My Best’ and ‘Chocolate’ published last year. 

A brochure informs that the Pierre Hermé Signature macarons are the following:

#  Infiniment Rose: Rose and Rose petals

#   Infiniment Caramel: Salted butter caramel

#   Arabesque: Apricot and Crunchy Pistachios

#   Infiniment Café Iapar Rouge Du Brésil: Iapar Rouge de Brésil Coffee

#   Mogador: Milk chocolate with passion fruit 

#   Infiniment Chocolat Paineiras: Pure origin Brazilian dark chocolate, Paineiras plantation

#   Infiniment Chocolate Bélize: Pure Origin Belizean dark chocolate, Cayo district, Xibun Plantation

#   Plaisir Sucré:  Milk Chocolate and flaky praline.

Three new Macaron flavours are listed in the brochure:

# Frivolité: Salted butter caramel and apple 

#  Huile d’Olive á la Mandarine: Olive oil with Mandarin Orange (photograph, beautiful orange and green colour combination)

#   Métisse: Orange and carrot with Ceylon Cinnamon

My poor French and the shop assistant’s English did not stretch for her to understand my question as to who Pierre Hermé the person is. Via the pamphlet and Wikipedia I learnt that he is a pastry chef, ‘heir to four generations of Alsatian bakery and pastry-making tradition’, now 55 years old. He commenced his career at the age of 14, as an apprentice at Gastonia Lenôtre. An accolade of Best Pastry Chef of the Year last year by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants recognized him in developing pastries praised for their taste and modernity, revolutionizing the past traditions of pastry- making. 

Wikipedia writes: ‘Preferring discreet pastry decors and “uses sugar like salt, in other words, as a seasoning to heighten other shades of flavour” and refusing to sit on his laurels, he is always revising his own work, exploring new taste territories and revisiting his own recipes. As a result, praise has often been lavished on Pierre Hermé, who has been called “pastry provocateur” (Food & Wine), “an avant-garde pastry chef and a magician with tastes” (Paris-Match), “The Kitchen Emperor” (New York Times)[3] and “The King of Modern Patisserie” (The Guardian), along with honours and decorations, as well as – most importantly – the admiring gratitude of connoisseurs of gourmet sweets’.  

Since last year Pierre Hermé has been collaborating with artist Nicolas Buffe to create artistic themes for the Pierre Hermé product range, the most recent having been for Valentine’s Day. 

Pierre Hermé is so successful that it has opened branches in London (at Selfridges, and two stand-alone stores), in Tokyo and Kyoto, Hong Kong, Dubai, and in Seoul. One can shop online for macarons, chocolates, pound cakes, teas, pastries, confectionery, and books. The marketing slogan is ‘365 ways to love chocolate’. A box of seven macarons costs €18, 12 cost €29, 18 cost €42, and 24 cost €52. Seven chocolates cost €12, and sixty cost €62.

The pamphlet guides the serving of macarons: they should be eaten within four days, kept at 4C in the fridge, and taken out 30 minutes before eating them. 

 Chocolates play a secondary role visually at Pierre Hermé, even through they are delicious. A second pamphlet is dedicated to chocolates, and in its introduction Pierre Hermé writes that he wants his chocolates to come ‘alive‘, shaping his range ‘with pleasure as my only guide’. I trim, build and navigate’. He seeks cocoa beans of the finest quality every year.’With each of my discoveries, my cravings evolve, bringing me to a different state of chocolate bliss’! 

The Pierre Hermé signature chocolate range for this year encompasses Hommage (milk chocolate with chestnut ganache), Choc Chocolat (bitter chocolate ganache with nougatine and cocoa nibs), Infiniment Café Iapar Rouge du Brésil (coffee ganache, with dark chocolate), Flora (Corsican Nepeta ganache), Infiniment Citron (lemon fruit paste, lemon ganache), Mathilda (almond praline with lemon zest, roasted almond slivers), Infiniment Pampelmousse (grapefruit ganache and fruit paste), Mogador (passion fruit and milk chocolate ganache), Ispahan (chocolate and raspberry ganache), and Ouvre-Toi (sesame praline, sesame nougatine). 

Of the top patisseries I visited in Paris on recommendation of Foxcroft Chef Glen, Pierre Hermé impressed with its professional product range and superb packaging, far ahead of his fellow patissiers in Paris.  While one can buy macarons loose, they are pre-packed in striking display boxes, making the perfect gifts. The packaging design is classic. We have nothing that comes close to the professional Pierre Hermé marketing of macarons and chocolates in our country. 

Pierre Hermé,  72 rue de Bonaparte, Paris, France. Tel +33 01 45 12 24 02  www.pierreherme.com  Twitter: @ PierreHerme Instagram: @pierrehermeofficial

Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: click here Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein

 

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