Isphan, Pierre Hermé’s emblematic dessert which single handedly draws crowds of tourists and gourmets, has become of one the most famous icons of modern French pastry. Pleasing to the eye, presented like a jewel in its case designed by Kenya Hara, and fitted with a name and flavors infused with mystery and exoticism, Isphan leaves no one indifferent. We submit it to our usual rigorous procedures, and present to you the details of our examination.
This dessert is composed of two macarons shells, between which are arranged 8 fresh raspberries along the outer rim, and a rose-flavored cream mingled with litchis pieces − as well as an additional raspberry − in the center. On top of the upper macaron shell sits a tenth raspberry and a red rose petal.
Ispahan by Pierre Hermé has a diameter of 70 mm and a height of 40 mm. The specimen we purchased weights 98 grams and costs 7.5 euros (15 euros with its limited edition case by Kenya Hara).
We easily recognize, wafting from the dessert, the smells of almond, rose, litchi and raspberry. Such a pronounced olfactory expression of aromas is impressive in comparison to most pastries, in which components can rarely all be identified by smell. However, it seems to us that the rose petal ad decorative raspberry on top are somewhat tired, which is regrettable. The macaron cookie shines by its capacity to crumble in one’s mouth without becoming a pasty mixture: its center is smooth and chewy, yet the outer shell − once broken − retains a granularity which brings texture to the dessert. It is infused with a strong almond flavor. The fresh raspberries arranged on the outer rim are nicely tart, but lack a strong aroma. They pair wonderfully with the rose and litchi cream, creating a lovely balance of flavors and imparting some freshness to the otherwise rich and silky cream. Taken in its entirety, Ispahan creates a true explosion of textures for our palate, starting with the crispiness of the macaron shell, which gives way to the macaron’s inner moist chewiness, before ending with the smooth and aromatic cream mingled with fresh fruits encased between the two shells. The various flavors combine with astonishing balance, while remaining individually recognizable. As for the dessert’s sweetness, we believe that the cream could be lighter in sugar, as the macaron cookies are already sufficiently sweet.
Ispahan by Pierre Hermé comes off as a well thought-out and expertly conceived pastry. The pastry chef’s work here is akin to that of a perfume-maker: we find in this dessert a remarkable olfactory equilibrium which directly influences how our palate tastes its various flavors. As such, we find in this dessert a true originality, which goes beyond mere pastry-making technical ability. Given this, as well as the other criteria mentioned in our report, we give this dessert an excellent mark, and recommend it highly.
Score: 4.2/5 Excellent
72 rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris, France