Cakes, slide

Tarte infiniment café by Pierre Hermé

25 February 2017
Torta al caffè

What is the infinity? Please, don’t ask me, I get a headache every time I allow myself to entertain this type of thoughts. And afterwards, I get really anxious and end up weeping quietly.
I am only human – after all –  very human, and I am not worthy, I am not very profound and I am not wise.
Yes, I Think, but Descartes would say that this only means that I exist, not that I know what I am talking about.

I am pragmatic, fast and careful, which isn’t much; therefore, to shake off the discontent, I add frequent doses of obsession and precision, often unnerving for the next person. The sum is gratifying and makes me feel at peace with my conscience and…let’s say that for me this is plenty.
So what has all this to do with the infinity? So far nothing, but I felt I ought to write this foreword before getting into the magic world of grams, temperature and diameters.
I know, you guessed that we are going to talk about coffee and ladyfinger biscuits and straight away you thought: she’ll foist us a deconstructed tiramisu, that’s so trendy.
Not at all. This is an unusual and sophisticated digression, the fruit born from yet another brilliant idea of Monsieur Hermé who, one day, ecstatic from the deep taste of a simple cup of coffee, asked himself a question. How can this pleasure be extended?

No, he didn’t drink a second cup of coffee.

I’d imagine he took pen and paper and started drawing, remembering the pleasure of the flavours, their dark and light shades, the gentle dominances, the nuances.
Then, like an orchestra director, he brought all these elements back into a single melody, composing something which is a unique, prolonged, endless pleasure… a perfect coffee cake.

And, to quote Schlegel, “only he who possesses an original view of infinity, can be an artist”.

Tarte infiniment café by Pierre Hermé

Tarte infiniment café by Pierre Hermé


food processor or food machine with flat beater and wire whisk
ring 26 cm diameter, 2 cm high
silicone baking mats and perforated baking tray (for a perfect result) – alternatively, parchment paper and tray
dried beans, rice or baking beans
mesh strainer with handle
hand blender

Tarte infiniment café by Pierre Hermé

Tarte infiniment café by Pierre Hermé

for a perfect coffee cake

For the coffee chantilly cream  (1)

(to be made the night before)

3 g gelatine sheets
500 g liquid crème fraiche
35 g ground coffee
15 g superfine sugar

Soften the gelatine in cold water for 20 minutes.
Boil the crème fraiche, add the ground coffee and filter the liquid.
Add the sugar and the gelatine, previously squeezed, and mix with a whisk. Cover with cling film (it must touch the mixture) and refrigerate until the following day.

Tarte infiniment café by Pierre Hermé

Tarte infiniment café by Pierre Hermé

For the base – pâte sucrée beurrée

(to be made the night before)

150 g softened butter
95 g powdered sugar, sifted
30 g almond flour
2 pinches fleur the sel (or sea salt)
¼ pulp of a vanilla bean, or a pinch of ground vanilla
50 g eggs (1 medium egg)
150 g all purpose flour (W<200 or weak flour), sifted

In the kitchen machine bowl or in the food processor, add the butter, cut into chunks, and beat until softened.
Later add, in the following sequence:

  • Powdered sugar
  • Ground almond
  • Fleur de sel
  • Vanilla
  • Egg
  • Flour

Stop beating once a ball forms. You’ll get approximately 600 g dough, you’ll need about 350 g.
Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before using it.
You can freeze the rest and use it for other recipes.

On the day you’re making the tart, remove the dough from the fridge and roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper, lightly dusted with flour.
Make a 32 cm diameter circle and leave it to set in the fridge for another 30 minutes.

Line the tray with the silicone mat (or with baking paper) and place the ring (lightly greased with butter, the fat is a good heat conductor) over it. Leave it to set in the fridge or in the freezer for another hour.

Pre-heat the oven, in fan-assisted mode, to 170° C.

Remove the base from the fridge and line it with parchment paper. Cover with dried beans, rice or baking beans and blind bake for approximately 20 minutes. After this time take it out of the oven and remove the beans or rice; after a few minutes, gently remove the parchment paper. Place back in the oven and bake for another 5/10 minutes until golden.

Remove from the oven and let it cool on a rack.

Tarte infiniment café

Tarte infiniment café by Pierre Hermé

For the coffee ganache

195 g couverture Ivoire Valrhona, or any other good quality white chocolate
140 g liquid crème fraiche
15 g ground coffee

Thinly cut the chocolate and place it in a bowl. Boil the crème fraiche and add the coffee. Pour the cream, in three times, over the centre of the bowl containing the chocolate, while filtering it with the mesh strainer.
Mix continuously with a spatula in a circular motion. Blend the mixture with a hand blender for a better result.

Tarte infiniment café

Tarte infiniment café

For the strong coffee

(to be added to the syrup – read below)

150 g natural mineral water
50 g ground coffee

Boil the water and add the ground coffee. Filter with the mesh strainer and set aside.

For the syrup*

60 g natural mineral water
60 g superfine sugar
100 g strong coffee

Boil the water and the sugar. Add the strong coffee, mix and leave to cool.

Tarte infiniment café by Pierre Hermé

Tarte infiniment café

Assembling the tart

10/15 ladyfingers (depending on the size)
To decorate: chocolate coffee beans and roasted hazelnuts

Place the base on a serving dish and, with a spoon, pour half of the coffee ganache.

Soak the ladyfingers with the strong coffee syrup and place them, one beside the other, over the ganache.
Fill any gaps by breaking up the ladyfingers. Cover with the remaining ganache (don’t worry if the ladyfingers are not perfectly covered, you’ll cover everything with the chantilly cream). Leave to set in the fridge for 1 hour.

In the meantime, place in the freezer, for about 15 minutes, the bowl that you’ll use to beat the coffee cream (1).

Beat the coffee cream until it’s firm and creamy, like a chantilly. Pour it in a piping bag with a large round tip. Make swirls on the tart (click here to see how), starting from the outer side.

Decorate with chocolate coffee beans and hazelnuts.

Coffee cake recipe

Tarte infiniment café



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