Ispahan Pudding Cake

I posted this a while back in the Sauce Magazine blog but wanted to share it here with those of you not in St Louis! Enjoy :)

One of my favorite pastry chefs is Pierre Hermé, the Frenchman who lifted the macaron to new heights with unique and inspired flavor combinations. Hailed as the Picasso of pâtissiers, Hermé created the Ispahan – a delicate combination of rose, raspberries and lychees – and put it in macaron form for Ladurée (the oldest macaron bakery in Paris). Hermé continues to experiment with these flavors in ice creams and other pastries.

I wanted to try to make my own unique version of an Ispahan dessert that would be unlike any other. I’ve recently been enamored with the idea of a pudding cake. There’s something wonderful about having a soft cake on top with warm pudding on the bottom. When I recently made a lemon pudding cake, all I could think about was how to adapt it to an Ispahan flavor. I wanted something a bit more delicate and refined, perhaps a cake that would make a great Valentine’s Day dessert or for any romantic occasion.

After several attempts, I came up with this recipe. The result is a very soft rose-scented cake with bits of lychee in the pudding on the bottom. The raspberries on top are the perfect complement to the rose and lychee notes. I also reduced the sugar in the overall recipe to allow the fruit flavors to shine.

Although I added just a few raspberries on top of each ramekin simply for aesthetics, my friends added several more afterwards, just because the combination was so delightful.
A side note: I used canned lychees for this and generally find them to be just as delicious as fresh lychees. If you can get your hands on fresh lychees, though, by all means use them.

Ispahan Pudding Cake
Adapted from a recipe by Carla Hall
6 to 8 Servings

4 egg yolks, reserving whites for later use
2 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature
¼ cup canned lychee juice
2 Tbsp. rose water
2 drops rose extract
1 cup milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
Pinch salt
3 lychees (finely chopped or mashed)
2 drops rose extract
1 cup milk
4 egg whites
Fresh raspberries for garnish

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray about 6 to 8 ramekins (Depending on size, you may need more.) with a nonstick spray.
• In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the butter until blended.
• To the yolk mix, add the lychee juice, rose water, rose extract and milk.
• Add in the sugar, flour and salt, and whisk until smooth.
• In a separate, clean bowl, beat the egg whites until just stiff.
• Gently fold the egg whites into the yolk batter in three parts.
• Pour the combined mixture into the prepared ramekins.
• Transfer the ramekins to a roasting pan.
• Pour enough hot water into the pan to cover the bottom inch of the ramekins. Place the pan in the oven.
• Bake for 35 minutes or until puffed and golden.
• Let the ramekins cool for about 15 minutes.
• Adorn with raspberries and serve warm or at room temperature.
Note: These last up to 3 days in the fridge; microwave for 20 seconds to re-warm.


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