In Pierre Hermé Pastries, the man whom Vogue calls “the Picasso of Pastry” pairs fifty classic recipes with a unique Hermé version of each. Since it’s December and I’ve been feeling all holiday-cheer-full and adventurous, I cracked open the book and chose a recipe that felt appropriate to the season: Hermé’s Glace Forêt-Noire, a modern revision of a Black Forest Cake.
The book describes the cake in its original iteration as “an archetypal gateau, naturally festive, sometimes bordering on kitsch.” And as Hermé explains in his introduction to his take on the recipe, “I wanted to create an ice cream interpretation that retained the spirit of the Black Forest Cake, a cake that was symbolic of my whole childhood in my parents’ bakery in Colmar.” For me, the cake’s visual elements—raspberry syrup, dark chocolate trees, stark white ice cream—evoke winter fairytales and landscapes prowled by wolves. (Wolves definitely wouldn’t be found prowling the branches of a bûche de noël.)
A layer of chocolate biscuit—a dense cake with a texture similar to a brownie—starts things off. Next, dark chocolate is melted and cooled into tree shapes. Sour cherry sorbet and ice cream follow. (Hint: If you don’t have the time, patience, equipment, or desire to make your own, try using softened store-bought black cherry sorbet and vanilla ice cream. I will now admit to making raspberry sorbet from scratch, but using black cherry ice cream to top the cake. Don’t tell Pierre.) The recipe is topped off with a dark chocolate cream garnish.
The photographs that follow don’t nearly come close to Laurent Fau’s beautiful images in Pierre Hermé Pastries, and I’m not about to pretend I executed everything perfectly and with patience (mayyyyybe there was some rushing of things when it came to freezing times), but the end result was close enough to warrant a pat on the back and a big slice of cake.
Pierre Hermé Pastries (Revised Edition) by Pierre Hermé, photographs by Laurent Fau (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2012) is available now where books are sold.
Ivy McFadden is a senior managing editor at ABRAMS.