Ispahan

February 20th, 2006

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Talk pastry and you must mention Pierre Hermé. The Ispahan is one of his signature creations, a startling combination of rose, raspberries and lychees that blend into a sum that is most certainly greater than its parts. It is also one of the most beautiful desserts I’ve seen as well, all shades of pink and red, from the lush raspberries to the velvety rose petal on top with the glistening dewdrop.

Ispahan is the name for a type of rose, although it doesn’t look the traditional red ones whose petals grace the dessert.  Pierre Hermé actually came up with the flavor combination when he was quite young – he produced an early version of the Ispahan for Ladurée (they still sell them in their boutiques) – and it appears to be one of his favorites; he continues to experiment with it in varying forms from his "Emotion" series (layers in a glass) to ice cream on a stick to a buche du Noel.

I finally managed to find a recipe (or some version – actually, the components are not too hard to figure out, it’s of course Hermé’s genius that makes the difference, as any pastry aficionado will tell you) in an issue of Art Culinaire.  Some of the instructions don’t quite add up, so I had to make a couple of adjustments, but this was the result: soft pink macarons sandwiching a layer of raspberries on rose buttercream, with a lychee in the center. The mixture of crisp macaron, smooth buttercream, tart raspberries and sweet lychee is transporting.

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The recipe called for making the macarons with an Italian meringue instead of the traditional way where you simply combine TPT with whipped egg whites.  A little more time consuming – I’m not sure if the result is any different for me.  The reason they have little specks though, is that I used ground almond meal from the store-obviously the almonds still had their skins on when pulverized.  Still, I’m fairly happy with results – it’s such a lovely dessert to put together.

I still miss the real thing back in Paris though – I got this little memento from Pierre’s boutique when I was there to remind me of the delicious memories…

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12 Comments so far ↓

  • santos. #1

    anita, you’ve done a wonderful job recreating the ispahan. i’ve never actually seen it in person, but i’ve seen enough photos to commit it to memory; i’m sure the flavour was spot on as well. as i’ve never actually had one, i was wondering how the lychee was incorporated into the whole concoction. is it a fresh or canned fruit in whole in the center?

  • J #2

    hi anita, your inspired rendition of the ispahan looks lovely…i have a printout of that art culinaire recipe and it is indeed incomplete, enough to put me off wanting to try the recipe – besides obviously being skilled, you must be very brave too!

  • Nicholas #3

    hi anita. That, is a stunning replication of the Ispahan! I initially thought it was a stock photo of Pierre Hermés Ispahan, but I’ve read otherwise.
    Nice!

  • Anita #4

    Hi Santos,
    Thank you! The recipe called for canned lychees, and to cut one up into pieces and place in the center. The macarons are pretty big (3″ diameter so there’s plenty of space to fit them in!

    Hi J,
    Thanks for dropping by; I think the most interesting part of the recipe was seeing how he flavored the buttercream. Most of Herme’s other macaron recipes don’t use the italian meringue technique, so I don’t know if this is the only way to make an Ispahan!

    Hi Nicolas,
    Thanks for visiting and for the compliments! *blush* It’s amazing what a few rose petals can do to pretty up a display, isn’t it!

  • Dafiya #5

    Is anyone willing to share the recipe? I want to give it a shot, but, the main downfall for me is the rose buttercream. Any help?

  • Anita #6

    Dafiya,
    As I mentioned, there is a recipe in the Art Culinaire magazine, although it is incomplete and not the easiest to follow. If you have your own recipes for macarons and buttercream I would suggest using those. The AC recipe used an Italian buttercream which was flavored with a teaspoon of Sevarome rose paste and a teaspoon of rose syrup, both of which you can find on the internet.

  • baobei #7

    Hi,
    I across this while searching for Pierre Herme dessert pictures.

    Where are you located? If Paris is too far, Tokyo would be another nearer location for PH desserts? Gawd I thought I lost my sweet tooth, until I tasted his.

  • Patagoniacs #8

    Pierre Herme in Moscow at Galleria.

    Dinning friday evening in the Galleria restaurant in Moscow, I had the surprise (good) to see nice pictures of Pierre Herme macaroons.News about it here. Considered the world’s greatest pastry chef, Pierre Herme, who was awarded the French Legion of

  • stargazer #9

    i queued a long time to get into PH’s boutique in paris…and when i finally got in the ispahan was sold out.

    i’m paris bound again in a few days and this time i’ll make sure i get it.

    will try the one at LaDuree also.

    and i didnt know abt the pendant…now i do…thanks to u :)

  • mei chew #10

    I was in the Rue de Bonaparte outlet a few weeks ago and the last two Ispahans for the day sold out to the customer in front of me! I was heartbroken.

    Could I just ask which boutique you got the pendant from :)

  • Jeanne #11

    Hi all,
    I just found the original recipe for Ispahan by Pierre Herme on page 322 of the cookbook “The Art of French Baking” by Ginette Mathiot. She included recipes from several guest pastry chefs at the back of her book that I got out at the library. It says he usesthe French macaron for the outside and fills it with Italian meringue incorporated into a mixture that you have to read for yourself and the fresh raspberries. I hope you look this up, as it is definitely do-able.

  • Jessie #12

    Hi Anita,
    I came across your blog when I was researching about ispahan. I really enjoyed this blogpost, thank you!

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