Ispahan Cupcakes

Ispahan rose, also known as “Rose d'Isfahan” or “Pompon des Princes”, is one of the most beautiful and finest Damask roses.They were introduced in Europe during the Crusades on the XIII century, brought from Persia. Damasks flowers are renowned for being the most fragrant roses from the Old Garden. Their fine petals are used to make rose oil, perfumery, rose water, food flavor and teas.  

Ispahan is also one of signature creations of the celebrated French patissier Pierre Hermé: “A subtle combination of sweet rose cream flavored with lychees, whose taste extends those of rose and raspberry while establishing a contrastwith its acidity and power. All of this goodness is contained in a tender,crisp macaron shell”.  This edible masterpiece is certainly one of the most delicious and beautiful dessert I have ever tasted.   

I came up with this cupcake after seeing some varying forms of this dessert that I found on his book Pastries. First I prepared a light cupcake recipe flavored with  rose water. Then I used raspberry compote with a fresh lychee as filling, and rose mascarpone custard for frosting. To embellish then I tried to reproduce a sugar Ispahan rose. Unfortunately I couldn’t find nearby an Ispahan rose to photograph, so my inspiration came from some photos that I have looked online. 

I love my cupcakes. They brought me delightful memories from Paris, when I had the pleasure to enjoy a Ispahan from Pierre Hermé boutique at the Luxemburg Gardens, accompanied by my dear friend Layla. I hope that my cupcakes bring you good feelings too.

Have a good weekend!

Ispahan Cupcakes

Rose Cupcakes
makes 6

1 cup cake flour, sifted
½  cup sugar
1 egg, room temperature
½ cup butter, softened
½ teaspoon rose water
½ teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoon milk
6 whole fresh or canned lychees 

Line 6 cupcake cups with papers lines. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine all ingredients in a stand mixer bowl and beat with the paddle attachment for about a minute or until light and creamy.
Fill each cupcake line two-thirds full with batter. Bake for 20 minutes or until risen and just firm to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Assembly: With a small paring knife cut a cone out of the center of each cupcake. Add about 1 tablespoon of the raspberry compote (recipe below) and 1 whole lychee.  Fill a pastry bag fitted with a star tip with the rose mascarpone custard (recipe below) and pipe on the cupcakes.

Rose Custard (Créme Anglaise à la rose)
from the book Pierre Herme Pastries

2 gelatin sheets
Scant 1 cup (225 g) heavy cream)
 2 ½ egg yolks (50g)
1/3 cup (65g) superfine granulated sugar
2 Tbsp (30 g) rose syrup
½ tsp (3.5 g ) rose extract in alcohol
Soak the gelatin in cold water for 20 minutes. In a saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar. Pour the boiling cream over the egg-sugar mixture, beating hard. Pour the custard back into the saucepan and cook, stirring, just until it reaches a temperature of 185°F (85°C). Remove from the heat. Drain and squeeze the gelatin of excess water and incorporate it into the custard. Add the rose syrup and the rose extract. Blend with a handheld immersion blender and set aside to cool.

Rose mascarpone custard
1 cup (250 g) mascarpone cheese
1 ¾ cups (375 g ) rose custard

In a bowl, beat the mascarpone by hand with a whisk until smooth, and then incorporate the rose custard. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Decorate the cupcakes with swirls of rose custard.

Raspberry compote
from the book Pierre Herme Pastries

¾ cup (200g) raspberries
2 tbsp (30g) superfine granulated sugar
2 ¼ Tbsp (40g) still mineral water

Puree the raspberries in a blender. In a saucepan, combine the superfine sugar, still mineral water and raspberry puree and boil until the temperature reaches 185F (85F).


Strawberry Rhubarb Charlotte

A charlotte is one of those classic French desserts that fascinates for its beauty and elegance. Since I bought the Ladurée Sucré book I have desired to make this Strawberry Rhubarb Charlotte recipe. It consists of layers of rhubarb compote, sponge cake and strawberry Bavarian cream trimmed with ladyfingers. Seeing that its main ingredients are in season, there is no better time than now to conquer this dessert.

This was the first time I made a charlotte. I preferred to make the classic version, which uses ladyfingers surrounding the cake. On the book, they used a green sponge cake. But both choices are beautiful.

Maybe you are thinking that making ladyfingers can be a challenge, but it is not that difficult. Follow all the steps carefully and you will get perfect ones. I was so excited when I got mine! 

The classic combination of strawberry and rhubarb in this recipe as a Bavarian cream and compote makes this duo even better. And the fresh berries on top combined with a pretty ribbon certainly are the perfect finish that makes this dessert so impressive.

Charlotte Rhubarbe Fraises
Strawberry Rhubarb Charlotte
from the book Ladurée Sucré 

For 8 people

Rhubarb Compote
8 ½ oz/ 240 g rhubarb, peeled and thinly sliced
1 ½ tbsp (20 g) granulated sugar + 2 tbsp (25 g) granulated sugar
2 tsp (6 g) pectin (powder)
4 gelatin sheets (1 tbsp / 7 g powdered gelatin)
3 1/3 tbsp (50g) water

Using a small knife, peel the rhubarb, pulling off strings. Roughly chop. In a bowl, mix the ¼ cup/45 g sugar with the pectin. Place the gelatin sheets in a bowl of very cold water. Allow to soften for 10 minutes. Drain well, squeezing hard to remove all excess liquid, and set aside.
In a saucepan, heat the ½ cup / 120 ml of water to lukewarm. Dissolve the sugar and pectin mixture in the water. Bring to a boil and while stirring constantly, add the chopped rhubarb. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, just long enough for the rhubarb to break down. When completely soft, add the remaining sugar and stir gently. Remove from heat and incorporate the softened, drained gelatin.
Transfer the rhubarb compote to a rectangular baking dish and spread out in a thin, even layer. Allow to cool completely, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12 hours.

Ladyfinger sponge cake
1 cup /120 g all purpose flour
2/3 cup / 120 g potato starch
10 eggs
½ cup +2 tbsp / 125 g granulated sugar
¼ cup / 30 g confectioners’ (icing) sugar
Equipment: piping bag fitted with a 1/2 – inch/ 10-mm plain tip
Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. On 2 of 3 sheets, draw a 7-inch / 18cm diameter circle.
Sift together the flour and potato starch.
Separate the egg whites and yolks.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with half of the sugar until pale. In another large dry bowl, with a clean whisk, bring the egg whites to foam. Once they are white and frothy, add the remaining half of the sugar and continue to whip until firm.
Right away, gently fold the sugar and egg yolk mixture into the whipped egg whites with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle the flour and potato starch over the mixture. Gently combine: start with the spatula in the center of the bowl, work up the sides of the bowl and bring the mixture back down towards the center, all the while turning the bowl regularly. Continue until you have a smooth and homogenous mixture.
Preheat the oven to 340°F/ 170°C.
Transfer a portion of the batter to the piping bag fitted with the 2/5-inch / 10-mm tip and pipe 35 ladyfingers 2  1/3  x ¾-inch / 6x2-cm onto the baking sheet lined with a blank piece of parchment paper. Using a fine mesh sieve or sifter, sprinkle half of the confectioners’ sugar over the piper batter. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, transfer remaining batter to the piping bag fitted with ½-inch / 14 mm plain tip. Pipe 2 disks in a spiral on the prepared baking sheets, filling in the drawn circles. Dust the tops of the 35 piped ladyfingers again with the remaining confectioners’ sugar. Immediately place all 3 sheets in the oven and bake for approximately 10 minutes until lightly colored. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Strawberry Bavarian Cream
1 ¾ cups / 250 g strawberries
5 gelatin sheets  (1 ¼ tbsp / 9 g powdered gelatin)
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp / 75 g granulated sugar
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp / 100 ml whole milk
2/3 cup / 150 ml heavy (double) cream, very cold

2 ½ cups / 375g strawberries, medium size for assembly
Place a large mixing bowl in the freezer to chill.
Wash the strawberries, drain on a dish towel and hull. Put the gelatin sheets in a small bowl of very cold water. Allow to soften for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs yolks and sugar until slightly pale. Drain the gelatin sheets, squeezing out all excess liquid, and set aside.
In a saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer. Pour a third of the hot milk over the egg yolk and sugar mixture (to temper the yolks). Whisk together and pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the custard thickens. It should coat the spoon when ready; if you run your finger down the back of the spoon, the custard should not run back into the line. Important: the custard should never come to a boil. (It should cook at a maximum of 185°F/ 85°C.)
As soon as the custard has this consistency, remove from heat and add the drained gelatin to stop the cooking. Pour into a large bowl. Continue to stir for 5 minutes so that the Bavarian cream stays smooth. Allow to cool completely.
Add the hulled strawberries, and using an immersion hand blender or electric mixer, blend together. Keep in the refrigerator just long enough for the Bavarian cream to begin to set.

Beginning of Assembly
Line the mould with aluminum foil to make unmolding easier. If necessary, cut the baked disks of sponge cake to fit properly in the mold. They should be 2/5 inch / 1 cm thick. If they are too thick, trim as needed. Place the first disk of cake in the mold. Place the ladyfingers vertically, set against the inside of the mold, the tops facing out. Fill with the jellied rhubarb compote and keep in the refrigerator.

Final steps for Bavarian Cream and Assembly
Remove the chilled bowl from the freezer. Pour in the very cold heavy cream and whisk energetically until it thickens and becomes firm. Mix the strawberry Bavarian cream, barely set, until smooth. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the whipped cream. Keep at room temperature.
Wash the strawberries (for assembly), drain on a dish towel and hull. Slice 7/8 cup / 125 g of the strawberries to a thickness of 1/5 inch / 5 mm. remove the assembled preparation from the refrigerator. Using a ladle, pour a thin layer of Bavarian cream halfway up the mold and place the second disk of sponge cake (2/5 inch / 1 cm thick) on top. Arrange the strawberry slices on the cake and lightly cover with Bavarian cream, keeping below the edge of the mold. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
Decorate the surface of the cake with the remaining fresh strawberries.


Blancmange with Candied Papaya

On March I prepared for a friend's blog this papaya candied recipeThis is another traditional candy from my home state in Brazil. As it is very sweet, it needs some suave accompaniment to balance the intense flavor. In Brazil we like to have it with Minas cheese, which is a traditional Brazilian cheese similar with farmer’s cheese. But I also really like to enjoy it with blancmange. Besides the perfect and delicious combination of flavors, it is also a beautiful dessert for a special occasion.

Blancmange is a dessert prepared with a milk base, sugar and gelatin as a setting agent. In the past, isinglass (fish gelatin) or chicken grease was used to substitute the gelatin. Sometimes it was also used almond milk instead of regular milk. Nowadays there are many variations. You can use coconut milk, corn starch and others several flavors. It’s also better known as panna cotta, a classic Italian version, or manjar in Portuguese.

When fig and peach are in season my mom used to prepare a coconut blancmange by using coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, cornstarch, coconut and sugar. But today I will share with you a recipe from the book Pierre Hermé Pastries. It calls for homemade almond milk, vanilla beans and gelatin. I knew for the first time when I saw this recipe that the papaya candied rolls would be a perfect accompaniment for it. It was also an excuse to try for the first time my homemade almond milk.

In the end, it was easiest then I thought it would be. Everything went so well! This combination ends up with the lightness of the blancmange, the intense flavor of the papaya candied and a stunning dessert plate.

(from the book Pierre Hermé Pastries)

Preparation time: 10 minutes (the night before) + 35 minutes (the following day)
Refrigeration time: 4 hours
Serves 6

Almond Milk

1 scant cup (200 g) still mineral water
1/2 cup (100 g) superfine granulated sugar
2 vanillas beans
1 3/4 cups (175 g) ground almonds
1 drop almond extract

The night before, make the almond milk. In a saucepan, bring the still mineral water to a boil with the sugar. Split the vanilla beans in half lengthwise, and scrape the seeds into the liquid. Combine this syrup with the ground almonds and add the almond extract. Refrigerate overnight.

3 gelatin sheets
Finely grated zest of 1/4 unwaxed lemon
1 1/4 cups (275 g ) heavy cream

The following day, strain the almond milk through a fine-mesh conical sieve. Put the gelatin sheets into cold water and allow them to soften for 20 minutes.

Heat half a cup of the almond milk and melt the gelatin in it. Add the remaining almond milk and lemon est and mix well.

Beat the heavy cream in a chilled metal bowl and incorporate it into the almond milk. pour the mixture into a 8-inch-diameter (20-cm) ring mold. Place in the refrigerator to set, at least 4 hours.

The recipe for the candied papaya you can find here
Unmold the blancmange onto a serving plate by quickly dipping the base of the mold into hot water and then inverting the blancmange onto the platter. Surround it with the candied papaya. Enjoy.


Mini Dessert Table

Since I started this blog, hunting and gathering new props has become a new pleasure. I really like spend hours in shops searching for unique and beautiful pieces. Besides using them for food styling, they are also a great source of inspiration. Weeks ago I was in an antique shop in Chagrin Falls and I found a vintage Haviland & Co plate. I fell in love with it immediately.  I started to imagine a whole post inspired by the graceful French rose pattern. So I created a little dessert table with painted cookies and mini cakes.

Recently I bought the wonderful book Pastries by Pierre Hermé, so I decided to try the chocolate cake recipe. It’s so rich and good. It matched perfectly with the dark chocolate ganache that I used as filling and frosting. I made one recipe and I cut it into 4 layers using a 3-inch ring mold. So this way I could prepare two mini cakes. I used gel food coloring for painting the fondant for the cookies and one of the cakes. For the other cake I made a sugar rose. 

Chocolate Cake
(from the book Pastries, Pierre Hermé)

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes

9 oz (250g) dark chocolate, 60% cacao
2 sticks (250g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups (220g) superfine granulated sugar
4 eggs (200g)
2/3 cups (70g) all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 360°F (180°F)

Butter a 9-inch (22cm) cake pan, flour it, then tap to release any excess and tip it out.

Using a serrated knife, chop the chocolate. Melt it in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water; the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. When the chocolate has melted, remove the bowl from the bain-marie. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the wire whisk attachment, beat the butter with the sugar and add the eggs one by one. Add the melted chocolate, and mix well, then sift the flour and incorporate it.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Place the pan in the oven and bake the cake for 40 minutes, wedging the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Remove the cake from the oven and unmold it onto a wire rack. 

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!


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