Pierre Herme’s Vanilla Tart

Pierre Herme’s Vanilla Tart

… A.k.a. the tart that almost wrecked my kitchen. I’m not mincing words here, if you do not like multi-step recipes, do not even think about making this. If you do not like reading recipes 3x before starting, do not even think about making this. But if you want a piece of vanilla heaven – especially if you love the taste of real vanilla beans –  then proceed, for this dessert is one you shall savor with every little bite.
This tart recipe is from the Pierre Herme class I attended last year. Don’t let me daunt you with my initial ramblings, but let me at least paint you a picture of the kitchen carnage that may follow should you choose to make this: a sticky mess of pots and pans including countertops, a calculator whose keys were frozen in time because some random syrup decided to drip on it, burnt spots on the stove from unknown sources – maybe syrup, maybe cream and then just a whole lot of “Oh shit! The cream!”
This recipe is lengthy in ingredients and has lots of stages (instructions are very brief) but most of them are as simple as boiling the ingredients together. The reason I made such a big mess in my kitchen was lack of foresight. First, I did not read the recipe carefully to plan the steps ahead of time and second, I did everything in one day. I fully planned on making the mascarpone layer the night before but failed miserably because I glossed over the brief instructions in the recipe. And whoever thought one could whip the crème anglaise to stiff peaks must be smoking something, or as Helen said, drinking. My only excuse was that it was late at night and I just came back from the movies and must have had some “Hangover” (hilarious flick, by the way) too.

What you need for creme anglaise

Cooking Notes:
I was apprehensive about two recipes, the vanilla mascarpone cream and the vanilla glaze.
For the mascarpone cream, do not, I repeat do not overwhip the mascarpone otherwise, you will not be able to form the discs – mine was too liquid the first time. As you whip your chilled crème anglaise (again, not too chilled because the gelatin will start to set), start incorporating the mascarpone a tablespoon at a time and use immediately. Have pan of hot water ready with your circular molds in them. I did not have the right molds at hand and just used 3-inch tart rings (same ones I used for the shell) for this stage which was why the discs were not as defined as I wanted them. Smoothing the cream out is essential because your glaze will follow whatever shape your discs will be. This is a case of what you do now will come back to haunt you later. Work quickly before your mascarpone cream stiffens too much. It’s delightful to see the stocky cylinders form as you lift the mold.

The glorious vanilla glaze is my favorite part of the recipe

The vanilla glaze is a patissier’s dream glaze. It is gorgeous and damn tasty! Who knew white chocolate could enrobe a dessert in such silky luxury. It uses an ingredient called NH pectin which is available at L’Epecerie . The neutral glaze recipe is one I just deduced from PH’s exotic glaze, leaving out some flavoring ingredients – after all it is supposed to be neutral. It was not hard to put together at all but used a lot of dishes because I had to make a white chocolate ganache, a neutral glaze, white colored paste etc. and this easily threw off my game (especially when a steak dinner fast approaching.) You can very well make the glaze beforehand and microwave in 30 second increments to restore fluidity. This is also the case with the neutral glaze because the NH pectin is reversible and you can just reheat before using.

Components in assembling the tart

To coat your disc, insert a knife into the bottom center of the frozen mascarpone cream and dip into the glaze, let the excess drip off and lay on a wire rack to set. Use a spatula, dipped in warm water, to transfer the mascarpone layer to the tart.
A note about the recipe amounts. Most of the recipes ingredients are half of the original measurement. For the lady finger (biscuit cuillere), you could halve the recipe further as it made a half-sheet and 1/3 sheet. I think I underbaked mine but I’ve never made lady fingers before and was not sure what to expect. You must pay attention to how much of one recipe to use in another recipe. For example, in the mascarpone cream, you only use 375 g of the crème anglaise but the recipe for it makes more than that. I used pastry flour for flour type(55) and  sucrose is just sugar. Trimoline is also available at L’epicerie.
I did spend a fortune on vanilla beans but it was worth every penny. The only recipe that I used vanilla extract and paste was in the soaking syrup for the lady finger. I did not have Tahitian vanilla bean so I used 2 Madagascar bourbon and 1 Mexican for recipes that called for all three beans. The reason PH uses three different types of vanilla pods are because of their different properties. Madagascar bourbon has the best flavor, in my opinion, and has the distinctive taste of vanilla that I look for. The Mexican beans add a spicy undertone. Tahitian vanilla beans’ contribution are their floral fragrance but because of fewer beans, their flavor is more muted – they are also the most expensive. If you are having problems working with vanilla pods because of their irregular shape, a technique I learned from PH was to flatten the beans very well with the back of a paring knife and then use the tip of the knife to cut through the center. Because the pod is now flat, it’s easier to scrape the seeds out.

Vanilla glaze, mascarpone layer, lady finger, ganache, tart shell

The question is: will I make this again? YES!!! Besides being an elegant dessert, it is just as delectable on the inside – velvety glaze, creamy mascarpone, crunchy tart shell and lady fingers soaked in rum-vanilla…need I say more? Now, that I have made it once, I can see where I can break up the steps to preserve my sanity in the future.

Pierre Herme’s Vanilla Tart

Sugar dough

150 g Butter
30 g Almond Powder
95 g Confectionary Sugar
0.5 g Vanilla Powder
60 g Eggs
1 g Sea salt
250 g Flour type (55)

Soften butter and add the ingredients one by one. Keep the dough in the cooler wrapped in plastic wrap.

Sugar dough Tart Shells
Roll out the dough 2mm thin and cut with round cutter to the desired size. Line tarts on a tray covered with a silpat and poke the bottom with a fork. Let the shells set in the freezer.
Place some beans into the bottom of the shell and bake at 335F for 25 minutes, remove the beans and bake for another 5-8 minutes until golden brown.

Biscuit cuillere

360 g Egg white
5 g Egg white powder
225 g Sugar
200 g Egg yolk
20 g invert sugar
125 g Flour type (55)
125 g Potato starch

Make meringue with the egg white, egg white powder and sugar to stiff peaks. Add in the egg yolks and trimoline slowly. Fold in the flour. Layer on a pan and bake at 445F for 10 minutes and let cool on a cooling rack. Store wrapped in plastic.

Titanium dioxide paste
25 g Titanium dioxide powder
15 g Water

Mix well and set aside

Syrup 30B
50 g Sucrose
45 g Water
Boil Together.

Neutral Glaze

500 g water
2 already used vanilla beans
200 g sucrose
20 g NH pectin
10 g lemon juice

Mix the sucrose with the NH pectin, add the water and vanilla beans and bring to a boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off heat, add the lemon juice. Let steep for 30 minutes before straining into a container. Keep refrigerated, reheat before use.

Vanilla Glaze

480 g White chocolate couverture
180 g Cream
10 g Glucose
25 g Syrup 30b
360 g Neutral glaze
0.5 g Vanilla bean Madagascar
12.5 g Titanium dioxide paste

Melt the chocolate. Boil the cream with the grated vanilla bean and pour into the chocolate in three additions. Boil the neutral glaze with the sugar syrup and glucose. Pour this sugar mixture into the ganache and add the titanium dioxide paste. Blend the mixture to obtain a smooth and homogeneous texture; avoid incorporating air. Keep in cooler until ready to use.

English Vanilla cream

500 g Cream
1 Vanilla bean, Mexican
1 Vanilla bean, Madagascar
1 Vanilla bean, Tahitian
100 g Egg yolks
125 g Sucrose
7 g Gelatin leaves gold quality

Soak the gelatin leaves in cold water. Mix the egg yolk and sucrose together. Bring the cream to a boil and pour half of it on the egg yolk/sucrose mixture. Pour this mixture back into to the remaining cream and cook until the it coats the back of a spoon. Strain this mixture onto the squeezed gelatin leaves and blend. Keep in the cooler

Vanilla Mascarpone Cream
375 g English vanilla cream
250 g Mascarpone

Vanilla ganache
225 g Cream
1 Vanilla bean, Mexican
1 Vanilla bean, Madagascar
1 Vanilla bean, Tahitian
4 g Vanilla extract – none alcoholic
2 g Vanilla powder
250 g White chocolate couverture

Split open and scrap out the vanilla beans and place in the cream. Bring to boil and infuse for about 20 minutes. Melt the chocolate.. Take the vanilla beans out of the cream and add in the vanilla extract and vanilla powder. Bring to boil, pour the cream in 3 additions over the chocolate, mix well Blend the ganache to a smooth consistency. Store in cool place before using.

Vanilla Syrup

500 g bottled water
0.5 g vanilla bean, Mexican
0.5 g vanilla bean, Madagascar
0.5 g vanilla bean, Tahitian
10 g Vanilla extract
250 g Sucrose
25 g Brown rum

Boil the water with the sugar and vanilla beans and let infuse for 30 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and the rum. Keep in the cooler.

Fill the baked sugar dough shell with a little melted vanilla ganache. Then place a piece of biscuit cuillere soaked in the vanilla syrup on it. Fill the rest of the tart with vanilla ganache. Let cool in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Coat the vanilla mascarpone cream disc with vanilla glaze and place it on the tart.
Dust the left side of the tart with some vanilla powder.

For printable version of recipe.

Steps in assembling the Vanilla Tart
Vanilla heaven!

74 thoughts on “Pierre Herme’s Vanilla Tart

  1. Thank you soooo much for the recipe ! I was looking for it for a while. Now, I need to translate it to french : my english lessons are very old πŸ™‚
    Can you tell me what “confectionary sugar” means ?
    And, last question (I hope) : trimoline is like invert sugar ?

    Your website is absolutely fabulous : bravo !

  2. Hi Bergamote – confectionary sugar is sucre glace and yes, trimoline is invert sugar. Have fun with the tart!

  3. hello,

    i would like to know where you can get different types of flours in the states. i tried pastry supply stores and many groceries but couldn’t find 45 or 55. please help. thank you!

  4. Fabulous!! You’re an artist. I have to try this.
    One question : is the Titanium dioxide paste absolutely necessary for the recipe?

  5. Hi
    Could you please explain if you use vanilla beans in english vanilla cream? I ask because they are in ingredients but you say nothing about them in instruction of cooking.
    Thank you in advance.

  6. thank you very much!!!
    sorry for so many questions but I have another one.
    Long time I’m looking for “Desire” of Pierre Herme and can find nowhere. Do you have this recipe? It will be so nice if you have this recipe.

  7. when i looked at the picture, i was like i’m sooo going to make this and then, i looked at the recipe..OMG it was sooo hard-to-find ingredients..
    where can i find Titanium dioxide powder?
    flour type 55?

  8. Oh wow, that looks amazing! Just like the original version! I just came back from a trip to Paris and of course, a trip to Pierre Herme for one of these tarts was on the top of my to-do list! I came across your blog when googling the tart to find out what was inside. Love your blog! πŸ™‚

    xox Sarah

  9. Wa! It’s tasteful! Could you mind telling me how to make a frozen lemon tart? As I really like the smell of lemon.

  10. hello, i really wanna make this tart since i’ve tasted in Paris and been looking for the recipe ever since! Thanks for the recipe. but i have problems finding the ingredients like sucrose and neutral glaze. Do you think i can substitute sucrose with normal granulated sugar? And can i skip the neutral glaze part?

    xx thanks so much

  11. thanks so much for the recipe! i loved this when i was in paris and am attempting it this weekend. i have all the ingredients in place except for the egg white powder which i can only find in large quantities on amazon (and is sold out at l’epicerie). i’ve never worked with egg white powder before. do you know where i can find it or a suitable substitute?

  12. tamara, It’s just for the lady fingers. I think you can leave it out. I think egg white powder is just so to add structure that egg whites do without adding moisture. I wonder if Williams Sonoma has it??

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