Pierre Herme’s Sweet Tart Dough

Pierre Herme needs no introduction. He is one of France’s preeminent pastry chefs and possibly one of the most recognized names in the business. I wouldn’t imagine myself ever coming close to replicating the lovely creations he stocks his eponymous boutiques with, but when we plan our dinner party menus, I frequently find myself dipping into Desserts by Pierre Herme and Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme, the two books he co-authored with Dorie Greenspan. The recipes range from simple to elaborate, with flavours that are accessible, yet sophisticated. But what I love most is the fact that the recipes are detailed and precise. They work. They reflect Pierre Herme’s innovations, tweaks and personal preferences as a pastry chef. Personally, they exhibit a flavour profile that also appeals to me. The bitterness of chocolate (Pierre prefers Valrhona) isn’t masked with too much sugar. His pastry dough celebrates the glorious flavour of good butter. His simple lemon cream is irresistible when paired with his sweet tart dough. Yet, he doesn’t take himself so seriously as to eschew the use of Nutella in a tart.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been working my way through a series of his tarts. Each successful attempt has made me an ever bigger fan. Most recently, for a group of chocolate lovers (including a friend who retails the stuff himself), I picked the Tarte Grenobloise. Pierre’s rethinking of this classic, as Dorie explains it, is influenced by the all-American pecan pie. A chocolate-almond pate sable tart shell is filled with chocolate ganache and topped with pecans enrobed with caramel. It was rich and heavy, but I certainly relished the tiny, cold wedge of leftovers I polished off the following day! It actually benefitted from chilling and would’ve been perfect washed down with a cold glass of milk.

For New Year’s Day dinner this year, Pierre’s Nutella tart (from his book of chocolate desserts) rounded off our festive menu. The only marginally fiddly component of the recipe was rolling out the pate sucree (sweet tart dough) and lining the tart ring with it—primarily because we live in a tropical climate. But even that is sidestepped with patience. After rolling out the dough, I now know to chill it for a few hours. The recommended 30 minutes just isn’t enough in our hot weather. After lining the tart ring, I chill it again for another couple of hours. Instead of trimming the extra dough off with a sharp knife, I also prefer to use a rolling pin as this seems to prevent the crust from shrinking dramatically during baking. The tart base is baked blind, cooled and then lined with Nutella. A simple bittersweet chocolate ganache is poured over this and topped with toasted hazelnuts before the tart is baked for exactly 11 minutes. Pierre suggests that the tart is best served at room temperature. However, in our weather, I prefer to serve it at 13 degrees Celsius.

For a casual Sunday lunch, I tried his lemon tart. Because our guests included a chef and some other f&b professionals, I really didn’t want to risk attempting anything too fancy that might also fail spectacularly. The recipe called for the same sweet tart dough used in the Nutella tart. Given that each dough recipe makes enough for 3 to 4 tarts, I just had to defrost a portion of dough and prepare the deliciously tart lemon cream.

I’ve previously raved about Pierre Herme’s perfect tart dough. His sweet tart dough is now my other pastry closet essential. The technique for the sweet dough is the same as the other (you can find the instructions here). And I’ve listed the ingredients below. But to truly enjoy Pierre’s (and Dorie’s) talents, invest in either one or both books!

Pierre Herme’s Sweet Tart Dough
285g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g icing sugar, sifted
100g ground almonds
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla bean pulp
2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
490g all-purpose flour

About Su-Lyn Tan

Su-Lyn is Aun's better half and for many years, the secret Editor behind this blog known to readers simply as S. Su-Lyn is an obsessive cook and critical eater whose two favourite pastimes are spending time with her two kids and spending time in the kitchen. She looks forward to combining the two in the years to come.


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  1. Edwin 17 February 2010

    The nutella tart looks fabulous! It bears a yummy resemblance to an amazing pecan pie from Balthazar (in NYC) that I had during Thanksgiving dinner two years ago. Gotta check out those cookbooks.

  2. Eileen @ Passions to Pastry 17 February 2010

    I started making this tart dough a couple of years ago, and I just love it. Great to have on hand in the freezer!

  3. Insurance Telemarketing 18 February 2010

    …Nutella… There can be nothing bad about this tart if it’s made from Nutella.

    Nothing. *salivate*

  4. Jen Cheung 18 February 2010

    hello there!
    I’m a new blogger =) Nice to meet you! Loving your blog. I also have a food blog of my own! Feel free to visit when you got the time to! Happy Chinese New Year!!

  5. Stay-At-Home-Chef 18 February 2010

    Wow – I will definitely add these two dessert books to my (completely out of control!) cookbook collection. Love your blog!

  6. Sweets at Vicky's 18 February 2010

    I totally know how you feel about falling in love with a book more and more, as you actually use the recipes from it. Thanks for the book recommendation too!

  7. The Little Teochew 21 February 2010

    Hi! I have the book, I have the ingredients. I just don’t have the courage! Beautiful tart you made.

  8. S 22 February 2010

    Dear Little Teochew, Have courage! I read the recipes for a couple of years before I got around to trying them, but now I’m kicking myself for waiting so long. If you can make Cotton Soft Japanese Cheesecake, you’re ready for this.

  9. M 24 February 2010

    ummmm…I totally forgot that I had this cookbook…you inspired me to pull it out and try using it – it always looks so complex…but really its just learning the components and then learning how to make them actually look nice together…challenging but you’ve inspired me to try!

  10. Yalin 25 February 2010

    It’d be soo lucky to be your friend and in Singapore! Desserts like this are labour of love. I don’t make dessert for I notice in the the cold climate like England one puts on weight rather easily. I prefer to have dessert when I eat out and I am blissfully unaware of the amount of butter nd sugar in it. The Italian coffee shop opposite the French House on Dean Street, London serves an amazing array of cakes. Do try them out next time you are here.

  11. SamuelGoh 27 February 2010

    That’s a beautiful tart, and a beautiful dog too! You take really good pictures 🙂

  12. Christopher 28 February 2010

    wow that looks great, by the way can you share with me where you got the glass cake cover from as well as the cake tray? =) it looks really nice !

  13. Emy 1 March 2010

    The tart looks totally to die for!

  14. S 3 March 2010

    Hello everyone, thank you for your comments!

    Jen: Welcome to the wonderful world of foodblogs!
    M: Do absolutely give it a try. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
    Yalin: Thank you for the recommendation 🙂
    Christoper: The base is from Bodum. I love that it’s large and ovenproof. We use it for serving pizza from the oven and it doubles up as a great cheese platter. The cake dome is from William Yeoward–an indulgence from many moons ago.

  15. pity 4 March 2010

    lovely cake and lovely photos, cant wait t try it, cheers from london

  16. Janice 4 March 2010

    I just made his tart Grenobloise too! http://parissweetsinseattle.blogspot.com/2010/02/tarte-grenobloise-chocolate-caramel.html. I’m going to try the lemon tart next 🙂

  17. Magdalena 5 March 2010

    I like your blog a lot, I read it since a few months, but this is my first post! Your tarte looks great ! Living in Paris since a few years, I know Herme’s passtry shops very well, especially, that we were renting the apartment at rue bonaparte, where his shop is located…
    I admire his cakes, but on the other hand now he is rather a businessman, and not pastry chef …
    I have a huge sentiment for gerard mulot, who runs his pastry shop at rue de seine in Paris since 30 years…he is not a media guy at all, but he is a real artist, working in the shop since the early morning to late evening….
    It is probable that soon, he will open his pastry shop in the NYC!
    Have a good day!

  18. Isabelle 6 March 2010

    Hi there! I’m also a huge fan of Pierre Herme. I have his book on macarons and I use it as my bible. I really enjoy making macarons and I wanted to share my recipe: http://www.histoiresucree.com/recipes/macarons_violettes.html
    I’ll try making the nutella tart this week-end, it looks wonderful, my daughter’s going to be happy! Thanks for your great blog!

  19. Susan at Charm of the Carolines 7 March 2010

    Love the photo! Your pup looks like he’s just collapsed because he can’t have any tart! They are such the little divas!


  20. e.lee 13 March 2010

    Ganache is not really necessary on a tart like this but you have provided an interesting variation.
    But baking is all about experimentation. Nutella is a good ingredient to have in the pantry, and so are those large bars of German chocolate or duty-free sized Toberlone bars

  21. Amanda 14 March 2010

    Although I love to bake, tarts have always kind of scared me. Your recipe makes it seem less daunting, so I may actually take the plunge and try it. Thanks!

  22. Melissa 15 March 2010

    The tart looks delish! Love the photos! Especially of the one with your doggie in the background, looks like he’s passed out from a food coma – adorable!

  23. Anne's Kitchen 17 March 2010

    Yes, that tart base sounds amazing, I have to give it a try! Do you have any recommendation for a salty tart base? I made a butternut squash and bacon quiche last night, but am not entirely convinced by the dough… You can see the recipe on my blog, Any suggestion is very welcome!

  24. pearl 17 March 2010

    I can’t bake to save my life so I’ll just have to make do with drooling after that tart. It looks absolutely divine!

  25. Tokyo Terrace 18 March 2010

    This post made me crave any and all of the tarts you mentioned. They all sound delicious!

  26. Ngoc 22 March 2010

    Tarts must be a bit sour and sweet? more like berry flavor, otherwise sweet ones are should be eaten with precaution.

  27. S 23 March 2010

    Thank you everyone for continuing to drop by and leaving comments! I am afriad work is getting in the way of new blog posts.

    Janice: Lovely tart!
    Magdalena: Thank you for the recommendation!
    Isabelle: Thank you for sharing!
    Anne: For a yummy savoury tart crust, check out Pierre Herme’s perfect tart dough which I’ve written about in a previous post. Just click on the highlighted ‘here’ in the last paragraph of this current post on sweet tart dough.

  28. Kristen 23 March 2010

    First off, gorgeous tarte and gorgeous pictures! I’m a sucker for anything sweet!:)
    Secondly, I wanted to share with all my fellow foodies out there a promotion I heard about recently. I work for a company that does restaurant reviews and heard throught the grapevine about a promotion that is to appear in the Metro THIS Wed. March 24th.The Metro, in partnership with RestaurantGuides.co.uk, is running a special Celebrate the City promotion that is wine and food lead! Dine at one of the participating restaurants and recieve a free glass of wine, champagne, or a cocktail! There are many local restaurants included and can be found all over the city. I hope all of my fellow foodies out there can find the time to take advantage of this promotion! Let us know what your experience is like if you go! 🙂

  29. hena tayeb 24 March 2010

    that looks delicious

  30. Tish Boyle 27 March 2010

    Looks absolutely delicious and I love the napping doggie in the background…

  31. Simon 28 March 2010

    Pierre Herme needs no introduction

  32. tasteofbeirut 29 March 2010

    I remember the first time I walked into Pierre Hermé pastry shop and saw the little cakes and petits fours lined up on green velvet and people lined up respectfully waiting for their turn to order. Only in Paris!
    Thanks for sharing his pâte recipe.

  33. terri 25 April 2010

    pls help! am travelling in 2 weeks n need a new camera. was that amazing photo in your post ‘pierre herme’s sweet tart dough’ taken with your Lumix GF1? pls reply, n tq!

  34. Axel Steenberg 4 July 2010

    Inspirational post that sent me out to order Pierre Herme’s book. Now my family is enjoying as I experiment with his recipes. So far, we love the Chocolate & Nutella Tart and even more the just made Raspberry & Chocolate Tart, which is rich and a perfectly balanced bittersweetness. Chocolate Deesserts is an easy-to-use cook-book and certainly the best and easiest sweet pastry I’ve found to date.

  35. Jenny 25 July 2010

    I haven’t been able to get pictures of my dishes that look half as good as yours. I guess I need a new camera.. You are so talented!
    Kitchen Scales

  36. Raelynn 8 November 2010

    i have never been successful at baking anything or even preparing fillings correctly. but when my first attempt at Pierre Herme’s lemon cream was a hands-down success (i think) without using a thermometer nor a bain marie (just some tweakings to the sugar proportions), I am truly a Pierre Herme convert. heh. can you advise me on this? If i were to make a chocolate ganache tart, is it alright to prick the base with the fork? Also, i see that you have proceeded to bake the fully assembled tart with the ganache and nuts for another 11minutes. Is this because the tart shells were only partially blind baked or were they fully baked before the second round? Is it necessary to bake it the second round?

    Thank you for your kind time =)

  37. Maisy 25 June 2014

    Hello to all!
    So I’ve made this tart a couple of times and it is to die for! If you want the best success for the tart I recommend that the lemon cream be cold. I hope that you loved it as much as me.

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