Chez Pierre Herme: An Ispahan to Start the Day

As many of you know, every few weeks Pierre Herme chooses to highlight one of his “Fetishes.” For now his fetish is Sarah and all the sweets in the collection are playful combinations of Matcha green tea, chestnuts, some sauteed and some confited, and passion fruit.  I smiled when I saw the Sarahs because it made me think of something Pierre said to me when we first started working together.  He was describing a chestnut and pear tart (it’s in Desserts by Pierre Herme) and he explained why he’d put the two ingredients together:  “Chestnuts are a linear flavor,” he said, “and they always need something to pick them up.”  He might just as well have said that they need another flavor that can throw them off track.  With Sarah, the passion fruit, so bright, sharp and acidic, is definitely a course-changer. 

Just as he does with all his fetishes, Pierre has fashioned the Sarah elements into tarts and tortes and cakes and cubes and the Surprise.

Surprise sarahWrapped like a bonbon, the Surprise is crunchy Matcha meringue filled with Matcha cream, chestnuts and passion fruit compote.

To me, it’s always interesting to see how Pierre can take flavor combinations and work them into the forms of this collections, the tarts and gateaux, preserves, chocolates, gelees and desserts in glasses.  You can see it in most of his fetishes, but it’s clearest in what he’s done with his most popular — and certainly his most copied — creation, Ispahan.  The flavor trio in Ispahan is rose, litchi and raspberry and it first appeared as a torte with layers of rose macaron sandwiching a rose cream studded with litchis and raspberries and topped with a fresh rose petal. 

Nowadays, there are many — actually, many, many — members of the Ispahan clan and today I met this one

 Ispahan 2the Ispahan Croissant.  It’s a signature PH croissant, but it’s filled with rose-flavored almond cream and raspberry gelee. 

I’m not sure if the croissant is the latest born in the Ispahan family or if I only just noticed it,  but newest or not, I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last in the line.  I get the feeling that Ispahan is an endless source of inspiration for Pierre.  Something for which we who love these sweets can be grateful.

(PS: Legerdenez asked if Sarah had anything to with a candidate — see comments — and the answer is no.)

Dorie Greenspan

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