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Pierre Hermé’s Ispahan

Talk about french baking and macarons easily comes to mind. And the one name that is almost synonymously equated to macarons is Pierre Hermé. The celebrated French patissier is renowned and worshipped around the world by dessert and sweets afficionados for his edible masterpieces. Enshrined as the “Picasso of Patissiers”, the one creation which is most often tagged onto him  is the Ispahan.

Pierre Herme's Ispahan

7-cm wide macaron shells in brilliant pink enclosed with a mélange of fresh raspberries, canned lychees and rose petal buttercream, this must had been one of the most bizzare-sounding desserts on the menu that Pierre Hermé created when he was still with Laduree. He is afterall a revolutionary in the French culinary scene, constantly introducing mind-boggling ideas for desserts and patisseries which come in bewildering combinations of flavours or presentation that inspires to astound the world both visually and gastronomically!

Pierre Herme's Ispahan

Like I’d mentioned in this little post sometime back, one of my first encounters with macarons was a couple of years back from a shop in Toa Payoh Central and have been very much intrigued by these little morsels of creamy squishiness and crunch chewiness ever since. My first attempt at making some was not too long ago and both the making process and results were immensely gratifying. Feeling rather motivated, I decided to give Ispahan a try, in full knowing that I’m probably not sufficiently proficient as yet.

First thing, I need the recipe. Several blogging bakers both local and abroad have recreated Ispahan before very successfully. The closest I got over the internet is from here. But I need the real thing! Feeling rather unsatisfied, I braved myself down to Kinokiniya one morning before my classes and bought myself a copy of Pierre Hermé ‘s ph10! Definitely one of the things one do in life on impulse! But one’s gotta do what one’s gotta do!

Pierre Herme's Ispahan

Baking the macarion shells aka coques. My first attempt at baking shells bigger than the regular ones. Increased the baking time from 10 min to 14 min, turning the tray after 7 mins and reducing the temperature from 170 °C to 150 °C after the first 7 mins.

Pierre Herme's Ispahan

Baking also some regular sized macaron shells for some “Petit four Ispahan”

Pierre Herme's Ispahan

The large shells at around 7-8 cm in diameter. Luckily they turned out quite ok with pronounced feet.

Pierre Herme's Ispahan

fresh raspberries (framboise fraîches) for the montage et finition.

Pierre Herme's Ispahan

The other fruit used, albeit canned, lychees (letchis).

Pierre Herme's Ispahan

Rose pink macaron shells for Petit four Ispahan

Pierre Herme's Ispahan

unfilled shells being paired and stacked up

Pierre Herme's Ispahan

the bottom of the shells, cooked but not thoroughly baked through.

Pierre Herme's Ispahan

rose pink macaron shells, not too satisfied with the macaron shells though. Too much inconsistency in terms of smoothness of the tops, size of the pied “feet”. Definitely more room for improvement!

Pierre Herme's Ispahan

Pierre Herme's Ispahan

Montage et finition.  First, the bottom shell is laid on a flat surface and the rose butter cream (la crème aux petals de roses) was piped on it. Raspberries of almost equal sizes are placed near the perimeter and a lychee in the middle. The crevices around the lychee and raspberries are then piped with more rose buttercream before finally replacing another macaron shell as cover.

Pierre Herme's Ispahan

Pierre Herme's Ispahan

Using glucose, a red rose petal is “glued” onto the covering macaron shell. A fresh raspberry is also secured in front of the rose petal with glucose.

Voila! it’s done!

Pierre Herme's Ispahan

The difficulty in this recipe is the making of the rose petals buttercream as it involves the assemblage of several components – creme anglaise, meringue italienne, unsalted butter, rose syrup (rose water) and rose essence.

Pierre Herme's Ispahan

I’d also made some Petits four Ispahans with an open shell concept. ph10 has a recipe entry for that as well but it requires an additional component, on top of the rose butter cream, i.e. a rose glace (glaçage rose) made from Valhrona white chocolate couverture and neutral nappage, which I’m too lazy exhausted to make. So the rose buttercream would have to suffice for now!

Pierre Herme's Ispahan

Assemblage of the Petit four Ispahan. Canned lychees are chopping coarsely into small bits and drained off any excess liquids. Give the lychee bits a little squeeze if neceesary. Place the lychee bits over a macaron shell

Pierre Herme's Ispahan

Assemble by piping a dollop of rose buittercream over the lychee bits and then topping with a rose petal and raspberry.

This is the lazy way of doing it. Herme’s original recipe called for a white chocolate ganache and a rose glacage on top of the rose buttercream but it is simply too much work!

Pierre Herme's Ispahan

Voila! Petit four Ispahan.

This is recipe from ph10 translated and paraphrased into English (be warned, its a very long !!!)

Ispahan

For 20 7-cm ispahans petits gâteaux

Composition
– macaron shells
– rose petals buttercream
– lychees
– fresh raspberries

To prepare Tart-pour-tant
300g blanched almonds (I used Almond meal from Phoon Huat)
300g icing sugar

Grind the almonds into fine flour and mix well with icing sugar using a food processor and sieve well.

To make macaron shells
600g tant-pour-tant (see above)
100g fresh egg whites
4g dye carmine red coloring (I used Wilton rose pink gel paste coloring)
4g dye strawberry red coloring (omitted)
295g caster sugar
75g water
100g aged egg whites
1.5g of powdered egg white

Mix tant-pout-tant with fresh egg whites and powdered coloring.

To prepare the Italian meringue, bring the sryup mixture of caster sugar and water to 117°C. Once the temperature reaches 108 °C, start whisking the egg whites with the powdered egg whites. When soft peaks began to form, increase the speed and slowly pour the cooked sugar mixture into the whisking egg whites.

Continue to whisk and let the meringue cool to about 50°C, and remove the mixing bowl and gradually add the meringue into the first mixture of tant-pout-tant, fresh egg whites and food coloring. Incorporate well by folding carefully until the meringue batter produces a glossy finish. Fill the batter into a pastry bag.

Pipe the batter 7 cm in diameter using a size 11 piping nozzle on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in oven at 165 °C in an air ventilated convection oven for 15 minutes. Once the baking is completed, remove from oven. Leave to cool. Store macaron shells in air-tight container.

To make buttercream Italian Meringue (Meringue italienne)
250g + 15g caster sugar to whisk up the white
75g water
125g fresh egg whites

First prepare an Italian meringue: In a heavy saucepant, cook water and 250g sugar to 121°C. When the mixture reaches 115 °C start whisking egg whites to soft peaks with 15 g of sugar. Turn the mixer to medium speed and add sugar to drizzle over egg whites mixture. Let cool at the same speed.

Note: After meringue has cooled down sufficiently, it is better to let it run at low speed rather than leave it to stop completely, and the result shall subsequentlly would hold the batter better.

To make buttercream (Crème au beurre)
90g fresh full-cream milk
70g egg yolks
90g caster sugar
375g unsalted butter at room temperature
175g Italian meringue (see above)

Boil the milk  in another heavy saucepan, and mix yolks and sugar thoroughtly in a separate a bowl and when milk is just boiling, add hot milk to the mixture and whisk until thickened and colour lightens like a custard, basically forming crème anglaise. and left aside to cool to room temperature.

Using a hand whisk, incorporate the meringue and custard. Cover with cling film and in refrigerator at + 4°C.

To make rose buttercream (La crème aux petals de roses)

450g butter cream (see above)
45g unsalted cold butter
2.5g alcoholic rose essence (Sevarome)
20g of rose syrup (Shah)

With mixer fitted with a whisk, made the butter cream with cold butter to make it light and creamy.When the cream is smooth and homogeneous, add the rose syrup and rose essence, mix and use immediately.

Assemblage (Montage)

600g canned lychees
800g fresh raspberries
Macaron shells
rose buttercream (see above)

Drain the lychees  cut into two or three pieces depending on the size of the fruit.

Lay macaron shells on a tray and  spray a fine mist of moisture over them using a spray bottle. Cover the base with rose  buttercream. Place the drained lychees in the center and the fresh raspberries in a ring around the perimeter of the macaron shell. Pipe more rose butter cream over the lychee bits and cover with a second similar sized macaron shell.

Final finishing (Finition)

red rose petals
glucose
fresh raspberries

On the macaron shell cover, pipe a very small amount of glucose and stick a rose petal on it. Pipe another drop of glucose on the flattened edge of the rose petal and place a raspberry on it.

Voila! Its done!

Pierre Herme's Ispahan

My “assembly line” of 3 Ispahans to go!

Reflections and Modifications

– I didn’t follow the recipe to the strictest order as I used the French Meringue method instead of the Italian meringue method advocated. that’s basically 46g of egg whites, 60g of almond meal, 110g of icing sugar, 15g of caster sugar and 3 g of egg white powder. Bake time was increased to 14 min, turning the tray after 7min. The results seem satisfactory but there’s always room for improvement! I’m still on the hunt for better methods for making macaron shells so if you know one, please inform me!

– I downsized the proportions and the above proportions for the french meringue method produced easily 6-8 shells. But I repeated the recipe 4 times to experiment with different temperature settings, macaronage technique etc. lots of trial and error.

– The italian meringue for the buttercream was hand-whisked which took longer than using a cake mixer of course. So I had to add water to the boiling syrup twice to prevent it from caramelising.

– Whole lychees were used during assemblage instead of cut them down in to pieces. This allowed me to use less cream to pipe over (the insides of the lychee is hollow) and hence a lighter texture hopefully.

– Despite being well balanced by the tartness of the raspberries, I felt that the buttercream is still on the whole too sweet. Going to cut back on sugar added to the meringue and custard components in the buttercream in future. This would perhaps help to bring out the aroma of the rose essence and rose syrup more.

– During refrigeration, the water- and oil-based components in the butter cream might separate to down an emulsion. but a quick whisk after that should return them back to their original ligh and creamy state.

– once the rose essence and rose water/syrup is incorporated into the buttercream base, the concoction needs to be used immediately.

– try to drain as much of the liquids adhering to the lychee bits as possible. Juices which leach from the fruit bits into the macaron shells can soften the shells substantially and affect the texture.

–  I didn’t use the misting method as suggested in ph10. Instead,the shells were rested in the fridge for two days after baking before assemblage to help them to regain some moisture.

Pierre Herme's Ispahan

Pierre Herme's Ispahan

The results are very gratifying indeed! visually very astounding for me personally.

When i finished preparing the “La crème aux petals de roses“, I couldnt help but to scoop a dollop of it from the whisk into my mouth. Admittingly, the intensity of the sweetness came as a rather rude shock.. I was quite apprehensive about the concoction and re-read PH 10’s recipe entry and re-calculated everything on my ingredients list to make sure that I’d not wrongly “downsized” anything. But everything seemed to be in the prescribed proportions.

I went on with the assemblage anyway, after keeping the cream in the fridge for a few hours to make it firmer. And necessarily, I plunged a dessert fork down the shell and took one ceremonious bite. The results are quite the contrary to what I’d experienced earlier. The tartness of the raspberry which was to an almost astringent level was delicately balanced by the sweetness of the rose buttercream, one seemingly aiming at taming the other!  And above all the coaxing of flavours going on, the aroma of the rose essence elevated amongst the other flavours and enveloped the whole buccal and nasal cavity. The moment was rather magical, I might say.

Pierre Hermé is indeed a genius! Not only is he a patissier held with the highest esteem, he is also an architect of flavours and textures in his own right!

Pierre Herme's Ispahan

I’m submitting this for Aspiring Bakers #5 : Fruity March (March 2011) hosted by Jess at Bakericious

This was featured on “Top 9 of the Day” of Foodbuzz.com on  17 Apr 2011 and foodgawker on 15 Apr 2011

Related Posts:

Pierre Hermé’s Macaron Mogador
Pierre Hermé’s Macaron Montebello
Pierre Hermé’s Tarte Ispahan
Macaron Satine and the PH Macaron Project
Pierre Hermé – Macaron Ispahan
Macarons from Pierre Hermé and Ladurée – a Sneak Preview
Pierre Hermé’s Macaron Jardin Enchanté – a reconstruction

70 responses

  1. roundpegsquarehole

    wow you’ve conquered one of the milestones in macaron baking – the ispahan and they look really lovely! I find that the Italian meringue method gives you a more consistent result, and I don’t know if it’s just me, but I get the crusty outside, chewy inside shell better with the Italian 🙂

    Btw, do you mind telling me how much is ph10 retailing at kino? I was under the impression that it wasn’t available there somehow!

    March 25, 2011 at 8:07 am

  2. Oops that was me, Janine

    March 25, 2011 at 8:09 am

  3. ALAN! you’re sooooo GREAT! those macarons look so LOVELY and i can see lots of effort from you! GREAT JOB! (: but it would be like a mission complete if you deliver it to me 😀 thank you for the translation too.

    March 25, 2011 at 8:20 am

  4. Awesome! I simply love the pinkie Macs. Better & prettier than those selling outside! 😉

    March 25, 2011 at 8:59 am

  5. what can i say? they are such beauties!

    March 25, 2011 at 11:46 am

  6. Well done! I’ve tried the Ispahan in Paris and it is absolutely ambrosial.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:22 pm

  7. very good looking,well done:P

    March 25, 2011 at 2:33 pm

  8. firebirdie

    Hi Janine, for me, the major drawback of the italian meringue method is the quantity of macaron one has to make in one seating due to the syrup mixture one has to make for the meringue. Can’t downscale by too much if not the syrup becomes difficult to control and burns rather easily. But I’ll definitely try the italian meringue method when I have bigger needs to make more shells at one go!

    ph10 retails at around 300+ at kinokuniya, it helps to have membership card and shop during the 20% membership sale!

    Jasmine: I’m FAAAAAAAAR from being great! you are doing really well too! gambate ne!

    Cathy: me still have a long way to go! lots to learn from all of you.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:49 pm

  9. firebirdie

    jess: no need to say anything! just admire can already. haha.

    lorraine: i’m so envious! paris is definitely a place to look forward to. but i gues i’d have to make do with trying them out in Tokyo which is far nearer!

    鲸鱼: 谢谢啦!

    March 25, 2011 at 10:52 pm

  10. Ah thanks for the tip – looks like I’ve something to get from kino soon ;p

    if it helps, i’ve managed to scale the italian meringue recipe down to approx 150g of tant pour tant (so about total of 60g egg white is used). If i’m not wrong, it should be 50% of PH’s original recipe. It helps to use a tiny saucepan (which I happen to have) – the sugar syrup is quite manageable actually! only drawback for me is that i’m lazy to whip out the thermometer and do the extra TPT step :/

    March 25, 2011 at 11:50 pm

  11. firebirdie

    Janine: thanks for the tip! i’ll have a second look at downsizing the recipe again to work out something feasible 🙂

    March 26, 2011 at 9:09 pm

  12. Alan, I was at the Academy of Pastry Art, KL yesterday and had some delicious macarons. They use the French meringue method of course. It was the first time to know that there is another method from my friend Pei-Lin, there is Italian meringue method too. It is so nice of you to take time to share with us your experience in making those lovely macarons. The photos are stunning as usual.

    Talk about buying on impulse, when I was at a baking store their other day, I bought 6 bottles of powder coloring because I thought I want to make some macarons. I want to each time I see those beautiful macarons photos at many food blogs but then I still have not gather enough courage to do so. I don’t know when is that day will be.

    Oh, It is not a good idea to come your blog when my stomach is growling. Have beautiful Sunday my friend!

    March 27, 2011 at 9:22 am

  13. Wow, your macarons are so lovely and they make me drool… Pink makes them even cuter!! 🙂

    March 27, 2011 at 2:13 pm

  14. OMG! This is absolutely beautiful!

    March 27, 2011 at 2:43 pm

  15. firebirdie

    Veronica: Its so wonderful that the Academy of Pastry Art in KL is open to the public. And since you’d gotten the powdered colouring, there’s simply no excuse or escape from macarons now!!! wahahaha *evil laughter* So get started already, sista!

    I must drop by the shop you mentioned if I happen to be in KL. then I’ll probably need directions from you!

    hanushi: thanks! actually I’m a bit overdozed by pink already. I think i should steer away from pinkish bakes for a while! Probably matcha, with so much inspiration from you!

    Ellena: Thanks! looking forward to see your bakes soon!

    March 27, 2011 at 10:07 pm

  16. Please check this out.

    http://preciousmoments66.blogspot.com/2011/03/long-overdue.html

    Thanks

    March 28, 2011 at 1:34 pm

  17. hi alan, nice to see you again and i just saw the photos on your japan trip and those desserts, each and every oneof them looks so beautiful and so are these macarons in this post! i really think you’;re such a great baker in these macarons, really. I do not quite understand the french and italian merinque method of doing this..infact i really have minimal knowledge abt macarons..most of the time i only read from bloggers experience and get it from there..but from what i gathered here, you are really taking so much of your time and effort in experiencing these macarons and sharing it with us and i salute you for that. I just hope i’ll be able to learn more from all of you . THese ispahan are so lovely and truly beautiful and spectacular combination..!

    March 30, 2011 at 12:27 am

  18. firebirdie

    Hi edith! thanks for the award! So kind of you!

    Hi lena! I too knew nothing about making them until earlier this year and I guess its been no turning back since! And definitely still a long way to go to perfect them.

    Give them a shot, with the french meringue method, which I feel is logistically more manageable than the french meringue method. Drop me a mail if you are interested and we can iron out some doubts together!

    March 30, 2011 at 11:15 am

  19. It looks very good!! Thanks for linking. So do u think ph10 is similar to Infiniment or La Patisserie of PH ?? They’re so expensive :S

    April 1, 2011 at 10:05 am

  20. wow ! from your post I am very inspired to try this out, in fact I am going to push aside all other projects and go try it out!

    April 1, 2011 at 10:29 am

  21. firebirdie

    Hi Swee San! Thanks for the compliment and dropping by! I love your blog by the way!

    Personally I prefer PH’s “Patissier Secrets Gourmands” (PSG) cos the recipes are more “down to earth” for me, a lot of baking staples and must-dos. I gave “Infinitement” a miss for 2 reasons. (1) there are hardly any pictures in the book and I’m quite a visual person when it comes to baking. (2) Some recipes overlap in Infinitement and PSG, e.g. Pate Feuilletee Inversee. ph10 is a totally different animal altogether, celebrating PH’s milestones over the last 10 years. So its an extension of the older “La Patisserie” IMO.I havent gotten La Patisserie though. Hoping to get the Mandarin translated version from Taipei soon!

    April 1, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    • firebirdie

      Hi Jacob! Its great to know another guy who’s so into baking as well. Can’t wait to see your rendition of Ispahan! 🙂

      April 1, 2011 at 12:11 pm

  22. Your ispahan is gorgeous! You make me want to make it again and taste its fantastic combination of flavors.

    April 7, 2011 at 11:48 am

  23. firebirdie

    Veron! thanks for dropping by! Your site is so wonderful! You’d no idea how many afternoons I’d poured over those blog entries of yours! Learnt loads from your writing. hardcore stuff!

    If only you had done yours soonner with the montage et finition steps, I’d probably have not made such a mess with the rose buttercream piping. haha.

    April 7, 2011 at 11:12 pm

  24. tiedwithblue

    That looks so delicious, and gorgeous! Great job with this!

    April 16, 2011 at 5:01 am

    • firebirdie

      Hi tiedwithblue,

      thanks for your compliments! 🙂

      April 16, 2011 at 7:54 pm

  25. Im so envious of your skills! wow.

    April 16, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    • firebirdie

      Hi Jess, thanks for dropping by! It just takes a bit of practice and a tad of determination to get it done. Try it and let me know!

      April 16, 2011 at 7:55 pm

  26. Stunning!

    April 17, 2011 at 3:18 am

  27. Wow kudos for recreating this amazing classic. Have made cupcakes inspired by the flavors, but never the real thing.

    April 17, 2011 at 1:54 pm

  28. This looks fantastic.

    I must admit, I’m not one for macarons, in general. But, this one actually looks really good. I love that you took the stuffiness out of it with step by step instructions. Love the post. Beautiful creation. I would shellac it and show it to people all the time if I were you. hehe. 🙂 Grats on top 9 today!

    ~Kate

    p.s. No twitter? I’ll check for you.

    April 17, 2011 at 8:13 pm

  29. The Ispahan is lovely with the pinkish macarons! The steps and instructions for this post is awesome! Thanks.

    April 17, 2011 at 10:49 pm

  30. firebirdie

    briarrose: thanks for dropping by!

    xiaolu: wow, ispahan cupcakes! sounds really yummy to me! the sweet aroma from rosewater is just so inviting.

    kate: thanks! it was my first entry in foodbuzz and I’m so flattered by the feedback.

    I’m a noob when it comes to twitter and facebook so far. will venture into these sites when I’d more time and courage!

    Ah Tze: thanks! hope you would try them too!

    April 18, 2011 at 1:27 pm

  31. Where can we get this PH10 or could you explain the “misting method” How long can you keep this fresh with the raspberries,or did you eat them right away :0

    July 27, 2011 at 9:38 pm

  32. Alan (travellingfoodies)

    i didnt use the misting method but left the assembled pieces in the fridge for a day for the moisture from the butter cream and lychees to work their way into the shells.

    With only the shells baked, they can be frozen up to 3 months. but once assembled completely, they should be eaten within 2 days. The shells would really soften too much after that. Using the italian meringue method might produce shells which can last a tad longer. But i stress on the “might” part as I’m not accustomed to using the italian method for making macaron shells.

    I ate one about 1/2 hour after I assembled them and tried another one the next day. I preferred the one the next day. The one freshly assembled seemed to be in “pieces” in texture instead of a single, concerted piece, if you get what I mean.

    for ph10, you can try amazon.com or amazon.com.fr

    July 27, 2011 at 10:40 pm

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  36. Eliana

    Thanks for the recipe. I had difficulty with the buttercream, so i found another PH recipe for the buttercream, since you didn’t mention when to add the butter, for the first cream, before the rose buttercream followed. It worked fine as I had cooled the creme anglaise and added soft butter, then chilled rose syrup. I use that to make the Rose St. Honoré too. The pictures are nice too. Keep up the good work 🙂

    September 17, 2011 at 4:05 am

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  42. i apologized for such behavior.

    hi, i’ve believe some press has taken your photo, use it in their news and put their watermarks all over it.

    just to be sure, you should capture a screen and kept your evidence before talking to them

    it’s a press from my country and i am not proud of what they did.

    http://m.thairath.co.th/content/life/260593

    May 17, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      I’d sent thairath.co.th an email and hopefully they would get it fixed by having the photo removed. Once again, thank you for informing me of such atrocity. And there is certainly no need for you to apologise on their behalf.

      May 17, 2012 at 11:32 pm

  43. Alan (travellingfoodies)

    thanks for informing me about the unlawful usage of my photo. Unfortunately, I don’t read thai. Do you know if there’s an email for the website which i could write to to get in touch with them?

    May 17, 2012 at 7:01 pm

  44. namizon

    so far on their website only provide phone numbers. i’ll find an email for you.

    May 18, 2012 at 8:19 pm

  45. namizon

    found one
    webmaster@thairath.co.th

    if u want, i can try contact them by phone 🙂

    May 18, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      oh thanks! i will write to them and hopefully it would suffice!

      May 18, 2012 at 9:21 pm

  46. omg this looks so awesome!!!!

    May 21, 2012 at 12:55 am

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      Thanks Mary!

      May 24, 2012 at 9:17 am

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  50. Raph

    Hi,

    Great photos! Would like to know where you get the rose syrup and rose essence from in Singapore.

    Thanks!

    October 31, 2012 at 9:53 am

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      Hi Raph, sorry for the late reply. I got mine overseas actually. So I’m not sure where you could get them in singapore. Perhaps you can try baking supplies shops like Phoon Huat, Sunlik or Kitchen Capers. Whatever the case, don’t buy the pink rose syrup for making “bandung” !

      November 23, 2012 at 11:07 pm

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