Tag Archives: Ispahan

The Pink Monster Is Here. Again.

My not-so-sincere but sombre apologies to everyone who hates pink. I’ve created a fluffy pink airhead. Yes, I did it again. I mean, I can’t help it, can I? Just look at it, just look at it! Yes it’s pink, but it’s pretty. Like these other ladies who look so alluring in shades of passion. Come on, admit it, you like this. Even if it’s pink… Urgh, forget it, memyselfandI like it, and that’s good enough reason for its existence.

I made Miss Legally Blonde’s reincarnate here, only two days after birthing this pretty lass. Sometime in February this year, I must have been bitten by the lovebug after Valentine’s Day. Pinks and reds were synonymous with amore, as were lychees+raspberries+rose with bites+of+heaven. I couldn’t run away from it. I just had to put these flavours in every single thing I made., well okay, except the curry puffs that sing..(that’s another story). M must have been sick of all these fruity and floral notes in February, not that I really cared…

Making this isn’t complicated at all, contrary to what I thought when I first tried The Ispahan (yes that’s her name). It’s much like making macarons, only bigger! Instead of making a white chocolate ganache base for the filling, I opted for a more weightless alternative – very much befitting an airhead – and made a lychee-and-rose infused whipped cream. This also means that you can’t mature the Ispahan as you do with macarons. The whipped cream is wetter than ganache, and will make the shells soggy. Assemble the Ispahan only when you are about to consume it – that’s the way you should have my version – young and airhead-ish.

Here’s the recipe:

The Ispahan
(Makes 2 Ispahans from 4 shells)

For the shells:

50g egg whites, aged
2g egg white powder
45g caster sugar
70g almond flour
60g icing sugar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon liquid red food colouring (depends on desired intensity)

1. Preheat oven at 170 degrees Celsius.

2. Sift almond flour and icing sugar together in a bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites and egg white powder till soft peaks are formed. Whisk in caster sugar until stiff peaks form.

4. To the egg white mixture, fold in dry ingredients from Step 2 in 1/3 portions to combine. Add colouring, then fold in the mixture more vigorously. Test the consistency from time to time by lifting a generous dollop of macaron paste and dropping it into the mixing bowl. If the macaron paste does not settle smoothly after 30 seconds, continue folding the paste. If the macaron paste smooths out too quickly, you’ve gone too far.

5. Pipe out the shells (10cm diameter) onto a baking sheet lined with parchment and leave them to rest for 25 minutes before baking.

6. When a ‘skin’ is formed, turn temperature on oven down to 140 degrees Celsius and bake for 11 minutes. Rotate the tray and then bake for another 9 minutes.

7. Cool parchment of baked shells on cooling rack. Unmould when the shells are completely cool.

For the filling:
4 pieces of canned lychees, diced finely
250ml whipping cream
1 tablespoon caster sugar
2 teaspoons essence of rosewater
1 teaspoon lychee liquer
1 teaspoon canned lychee juice

1. Whisk whipping cream will frothy, add caster sugar and continue to whisk till thick and of piping consistency. Do not over-whip the cream as it will split.

2. Add essence of rosewater, lychee liquer and lychee juice to the whipped cream and whisk gently to combine.

3. This cream can keep for 2-3 days in the fridge.

Assembling The Ispahan:

You will need the cooled shells, the cream, 12-14 raspberries and some edible gold lustre.

Note: Only assemble when you’re about to consume or serve this. Once assembled, serve immediately.

1. Pipe the whipped cream onto the centre of the shell, and arrange raspberries around the edge.

2. Add a dollop of diced lychees to the centre of the piped cream (where the large lychee is in the photo –> the intact lychee was added for photo-taking purposes as it looked prettier than a bunch of macerated lychees…).

3. Pipe more cream over the top of the lychee layer (same circumference as the first layer of cream). Also pipe more cream in teardrops between the raspberries.

4. Cover the top with another shell and add raspberries to the top to decorate.

5. Brush the top shell with some edible gold lustre, and dust more lustre on top of the raspberries to create the speckles you see in the photo.

If you love lychees, check out my lychee chiffon cake or my lychee mascarpone & Emperor’s Seven Treasures macarons here! I’ve also made a cake version of The Ispahan, which the editors of WordPress.com really liked, so do drop by and have a look!

*Updated: This post has been featured on Foodgawker, Tastespotting and Foodpress. Check out my profiles on Foodgawker and Tastespotting to see my other featured posts!

If you love macarons, join me on my macaron journey.

Check out what I have been baking in my own kitchen.

Also check out my other food adventures.

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The Prettiest Cake I’ve Made – Ispahan


Mention lychees, rose and raspberries in the same sentence, and the first person you think of is Pierre Hermé, the one pastry chef I truly revere, and the one man I might actually kiss, other than my husband (shhhh, it’s our secret). If you’ve followed this blog since I started, you would have seen how I’ve progressed in the kitchen and how I became increasingly obsessed with macarons and other pastries. Pierre Hermé is the source of my inspiration; his dexterity with pastries is something that I can only dream of, not here but in a parallel dimension. Yes, he is that good.

I love his creativity and his works of art so much that every other friend of mine seems to think I’m a nutcase for his sweets now, and I was very generously gifted one of his cookbooks for my birthday last year. I have yet to actually use any of his recipes, for fear of getting them totalled in an ugly accident that (trust me) will be reality in my incompetent hands; but one day, when I’m good enough, I will plough through each and every of his recipes (they are in French though…) and hopefully, delight my friends with the creations. For now, Pierre Hermé remains a dream that seems too good to be true, and I only aspire to be inspired.

I have managed to tackle the tricky business of macarons, and now, I yearn for more. Iconic and truly delightful, the beautiful combination of lychee, rose and raspberry was first created by Pierre Hermé and it seemed like the perfect way to get started. Yes, my dears, I’m working my way into the heart of Monsieur Hermé.

To you, the Ispahan cake I’ve made here probably isn’t a product of inspiration; the truth is you could probably find it in any pâtisserieBut to me, this cake is a bit of a big deal. I’m used to making slapdash easy-peasy cupcakes, brownies, cakes, cookies and macarons, but an entremet? That’s a tall order. Entremets are refined, very pretty layered and textured mousse cakes that don’t do very well when poked by stubby, careless fingers like mine. Getting them to look perfect is a real challenge for me, and I was terrified of making my first entremet, but I guess, I have to start somewhere if I want to be more prolific in pastry-making. So I hope you’ll see why this Ispahan cake represents a more accessible way in, to that Pierre Hermé cookbook that has been sitting on my shelf for more than half a year, and also to more good things that will hopefully turn up in my culinary adventures.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present my first entremet to you, possibly not the prettiest cake you’ve seen but definitely the prettiest cake I’ve ever made. It is not perfect, but I hope to make it so one day. For now, the flavours tease and delight, as they should and as they did when I first had an Ispahan years ago. The sweetness of lychees, tartness of raspberries and lingering aroma of rose bring a sensual touch to this cake. It’s hard not to be drawn in, even M loved it. For me, I was extremely pleased to see it come together (as opposed to it falling apart…). Here’s the recipe that I tweaked from Okashi to include the signature Hermé flavours of lychees, rose and raspberries, and I hope you enjoy making it as much as I did!

Ispahan Cake

Makes two 4.5cm (diameter) cakes and one 15cm cake
(adapted from Okashi by Keiko Ishida)

Special Biscuit Sponge

15g corn flour
15g plain flour
17g unsalted butter, melted
45g egg whites
40g egg yolks
40g caster sugar

1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Line 15cm by 25cm tray with baking parchment.
2. Sift flours together, twice, and set aside.
3. Beat egg whites in a bowl until foamy. Add 1/4 of the sugar and beat briefly, before adding in the remaining sugar. Continue to beat until stiff and glossy peaks are formed.
4. Lightly beat the egg yolks, add them to the meringue made in step 3 and gently mix till combined. Do not overmix.
5. Sift the flours again, into the batter from step 4 and fold the flours in gently till batter is glossy. Pour the melted butter into this mixture and fold gently to combine.
6. Pour batter into the lined tray, and spread evenly with a spatula. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven.
7. Once baked, remove sponge from the tray and cover it with a clean tea towel. Leave to cool on a cooling rack.

Flavour for the sponge

35g water
12g caster sugar
1 tablespoon canned lychee juice
1 tablespoon lychee liquer
1 tablespoon essence of rosewater

1. In a saucepan, heat up water and sugar to make a sugar syrup. Remove from heat and add lychee juice, liquer and rosewater essence. Stir to combine. Set aside and let cool.
2. When sponge is fully cooled, cut out (diameter) 4.5cm and 15.5cm round pieces with the mold rings.
3. Brush sugar syrup from step 1 over the sponge cut-outs.

Crème Mousseline

235g whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
3 egg yolks
75g caster sugar
20g plain flour
5g corn flour
135g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon canned lychee juice
1 tablespoon lychee liquer
1 tablespoon essence of rosewater

1. Bring milk and vanilla to boil in a saucepan, then remove from heat and set aside.
2. Whisk egg yolks and sugar till mixture is thick and pale yellow. Add flours to this and mix well.
3. Pour the hot milk from step 1 to the egg mixture, and fold to mix thoroughly. Return this to the saucepan and bring to a boil on high heat. Stir continuously. This forms the pastry cream. Beat the pastry cream, whilst in the saucepan, until smooth, thick and glossy. It should resemble the gloopy filling you see in cream puffs. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and transfer the pastry cream to a clean tray. Cover the tray with cling film and let cool in the freezer. Do not allow it to freeze.
4. In a clean bowl, beat butter until creamy. Add the cooled pastry cream and beat until combined. At this point, beat in the lychee juice, liquer and essence of rosewater. This is your crème mousseline.

To assemble

100g raspberries, halved
7 lychees (I used canned ones), drained thoroughly and quartered

1. Place the flavoured sponge cut-outs into the respective mold rings.
2. Pipe a thin layer of crème mousseline onto the sponge. Spread this evenly (you want uniform layers so the entremet looks pretty).
3. Arrange the halved raspberries, cut-side facing out, against the inner surface of the mold ring. Arrange lychee quarters and remaining raspberries in concentric circles as you move inwards from the outer edges. Note that for the smaller mold ring, you won’t be able to put in extra raspberries in the middle, there will only be enough space for lychees.
4. Pipe another layer of crème mousseline on top of the raspberries and lychees and make sure you level this layer of crème (remember entremets need to be pretty and neat when you unmould them!). Place the cake in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Next, prepare the Ispahan jelly.

Ispahan Jelly

70g water
1 tablespoon canned lychee juice
1 tablespoon essence of rosewater
5g sugar
3-4 raspberries, washed
2g gelatine sheet, soaked in ice water to soften
1/4 teaspoon red food colouring

1. Bring water, lychee juice, essence of rosewater, sugar and raspberries to boil, remove from heat and then add softened gelatin sheet.
2. Run mixture through a sieve to remove any debris. Let cool slightly before using (but do not allow it to set).
3. Remove the cake from the freezer and gently pour the sieved liquid on top of the crème mousseline. Leave to set overnight in the fridge (mine took only a few hours, but best to do it overnight).
4. To unmould, warm sides of the mold ring with a warm towel. You will need to do this a few times before you even attempt to unmould it. Unmoulding the cake prematurely will only create mess, so make sure you do this after you’ve warmed the mold ring sufficiently!

If you love lychees, check out my lychee chiffon cake or my lychee mascarpone & Emperor’s Seven Treasures macarons here!

*Updated: This post was featured on Freshly Pressed on WordPress.com! Check out my other Freshly Pressed post hereThis post has also been featured on Foodgawker and Tastespotting. Check out my profiles on Foodgawker and Tastespotting to see my other featured posts!

Check out what I have been baking in my own kitchen.

Also check out my other food adventures.

London Affordable Eats: A Leisurely Afternoon at Ladurée

I was reborn when a close friend, D, took me to Ladurée for my early birthday treat last year. I felt so alive, I should have declared a new birth date for me. I have never tasted a macaroon prior to this life-changing experience, and have always thought that anything that looks this colourful and pretty must be nauseatingly sweet, much like pastel-coloured fondant and icing on cakes.

But, I was looking forward to having afternoon tea at Ladurée. D is always a delight to talk to, and she is as much a fervent diner as I am. I knew that the little picture-perfect treats must pack a hell lot of goodness for D to rave about them, and a girly afternoon get-together in a beautiful Parisian tearoom surrounded by treats like this…nothing can possibly top that. I absolutely loved everything about the Ladurée experience, the decor, service, company, pastries and even the price! I loved it so much, that I decided to change my husband’s life (again actually, since his life was changed the day he met me, for the better if you really have to know) by going for an impromptu tea session at Ladurée after shopping at Harrods.

The queue wasn’t long, we were the first in line at about 2pm on a Saturday (the queue gets insanely long at proper tea time, right about 3-4pm, and no reservations are taken for tea but it’s still worth the wait!). We were seated upstairs in the deep red velvet plush sofas, the same area D and I were seated last year. I felt like royalty, sitting upstairs in such a lush setting, peering down at the ‘commoners’ and the galore of pretty treats at the counter. Okay, okay, that sounded a tad snooty, but that’s what the ambience does to you, it makes you feel important, rich, extravagant, everything that is associated with aristocracy. Much love.

Afternoon Tea at Ladurée, Harrods

We ordered an assortment of pastries to share – Ispahan, Saint Honoré, and a healthy dose of macaroons. He had white coffee and I had rose tea.

The Ispahan is one of Pierre Hermé’s early creations for Ladurée, and it serves up a fragrant combination of rose, raspberries and lychees that work remarkably well. I was slightly skeptical about the rose flavour. I have never really tasted rose in foods, and always associated the smell with, you know, real roses and perfumes, where they should belong. Even then, I never liked the heady incense smell of roses in perfumes. But this is a culinary delight, every bite reveals a subtle hint of rose that hits my nose, and that gives way to the tartness of whole raspberries and the unmistakeable sweetness of lychees. Absolutely divine. The rose biscuits are crisp on the outside and slightly yielding in the centre. The rose petal cream is light as a feather. The Ispahan looks way too beautiful to eat as well, with shades of pink and red, topped with a velvety rose petal and even dew drops! It took every inch of my civilised self to take lady-like mouthfuls of this pastry. I can’t wait to get to Paris in less than a fortnight to have Pierre Hermé’s standalone version of his creation. Before I forget, do try this with the rose tea; it is a match made in heaven.

Ispahan at Ladurée, Harrods

The Saint Honoré is a classic French pastry, with a ring of choux pastry piped around a base of puff pastry. The base is then adorned with tiny cream puffs covered in the yummiest caramelised sugar, freshest whipped cream and sliced almonds. The cream was an absolute delight, whipped to the lightest texture and not the least bit overpowering in that huge dollop. The caramelised sugar had a nice touch of bittersweet, which makes it manly enough for a man such as my husband to go for second helpings, and girly enough for us ladies to indulge in. The puff and choux pastries were perfectly done, crispy and slightly chewy at the same time, it took a lot of willpower to stop myself from ordering another one.

Saint Honoré at Ladurée, Harrods

Of course, we couldn’t leave the tearoom without filling our bellies with its famous macaroons. There were a couple of flavours that were regrettably sold out, such as lemon, coconut and bitter chocolate, but there were still some on my list that were available. We had rose, chocolate and coffee to start. We also tried the green apple flavour which was created to coincide with the launch of Alice in Wonderland, and it was surprisingly good. The green apple filling was wonderfully sweet and tart at the same time, perfect recipe for getting your salivary glands into action. My favourite is still salted caramel, I ordered two of those, because I was unwilling to share it with my husband. I love salted caramel, and the good people who created salted caramel macaroons are ingenious. I could pop these babies into my mouth all day and not feel sick from gorging on them. The macaroon shells were crisp in texture and ever so slightly soft in the middle, some of the ganache fillings were sweeter than what  I would have liked, but salted caramel, coconut, bitter chocolate, rose, lemon and green apple were done to perfection without being overpoweringly sweet.

Selection of macaroons from Ladurée, Harrods

I would highly recommend everyone to pop by Ladurée if you ever visit London. It is an excellent place to unwind after a day of shopping in Harrods. If the queue for a table is too long for your tight schedule, you can get some takeaways for the pastries. This is great for the pocket too because it’s a little more expensive to dine in (£1.65 per macaroon as opposed to slightly more than £1 for takeaway). Just make sure you have a nice cup of tea to go with the yummy treats you’ve bought, and remember, you must never share!

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Ladurée at Harrods is located at:

87/135 Brompton Road
London SW1x 7XL

Opening hours:

Monday – Saturday 9am – 9pm
Sunday 12noon – 6pm

*Updated: This post is featured on Photograzing. Check out my Photograzing profile to see my other featured posts!