I find Pierre’s fascination with the flavors remarkable and love how he never seems to tire of working with the threesome. Quite the opposite, creating with this trio seems to energize him and this energy has brought us the newest family member: the above Gateau Saint-Honore, version Ispahan.
The Gateau Saint-Honore is a completely Parisian creation, having made its debut in 1846 in a pastry shop on the rue Saint Honore (how fitting that Saint-Honore is the patron saint of pastry chefs) owned by Chiboust, who gave his name to the cream filling, a pastry cream lightened with meringue and stabilized with a little gelatin. The cake is a luscious but complicated affair. From the bottom up, you’ve got: a puff pastry base; a ring of caramelized pate-a-choux (cream puff dough); a few caramel-crowned cream puffs (which are filled with either chiboust or whipped cream); a chiboust filling; whipped cream swirled like a prince’s turban. In Pierre’s version, the cream is rose-flavored (of course), there are raspberries and litchis, and the caramel is a sexy, iridescent pink color. And yes, it’s fabulously delicious.
Pierre has taken to devoting weeks at a time to what he calls his “fetishes,” and March was Fetish Ispahan, a fetish all of Paris seems to share. So the last night I was in Paris, I went on a little Ispahan spree and bought six little treats to serve to friends after dinner.
The Gateau Saint-Honore is in the center and right above it you’ve got the Surprise, a crisp but fragile meringue confection wrapped up like a bon-bon for a good child. Going clockwise, there’s the Ispahan Cheesecake, the Ispahan Tart, with little squares of litchi gelee (sooooooo good) and the classic Ispahan.
Talk about la vie en rose …