Ispahan Croissants

A couple of days ago I flew from Toronto to San Francisco! My brother promised to take me to Chile once I had graduated high school (this was a promise he made six years ago), but I recently decided to switch destinations to the land of sourdough bread.

Regular croissants are boring. Try making these instead, with a raspberry and lychee filling. Here, I'm sprinkling freeze dried raspberries over the Ispahan croissants. Click for the recipe!

Before I left, I made these amazing Ispahan croissants, which were inspired by Pierre Hermé’s croissants of the same name. Inside these croissants is homemade rose-scented almond paste and a delightful raspberry-lychee gelée. These are also glazed with rose icing and crunchy freeze-dried raspberries. The Ispahan croissants are totally amazing and surprisingly not much more difficult to make than regular croissants!

Pierre Hermé is one of the most influential pastry chefs in modern pastry. He often comes up with “fetishes”, which are unique flavour combinations. The Ispahan is the most popular of these, and includes raspberry, rose, and lychee. This winning trio stars in many of his pastries.

Hermé’s book Pastries, in which he actually shares a recipe for his version of an Ispahan croissant, is not very well edited. The book contains many errors and unclear instructions that could easily mislead many bakers (note, however, that some of the newer versions have been corrected).

When I read over the instructions for these croissants I was pretty amazed at how sparse they were. Hermé covers making croissant dough in under a page, while I have written a full photo tutorial on the subject!

I decided to not use Hermé’s recipe because it calls for uncommon ingredients that are not easily accessible, such as gellan gum (which sets food similarly to gelatin). I used his recipe more for inspiration rather than for instructions.

I started off by making a batch of my all-butter croissant dough.

Placing raspberry-lychee gelée inside an Ispahan croissant with almond paste. Click to grab the recipe for these raspberry and lychee croissants from Pierre Herme!

I also made some homemade almond paste (which is as simple to make as combining a few ingredients in a food processor). A couple of drops of rose essence imparted the rose flavour to the almond paste. I then rolled out the almond paste between two sheets of parchment paper (Hermé suggests using acetate sheets, which are not a very common tool even in professional bakeries). Next, I cut the almond paste into triangles that I placed on the croissant dough.

To make the raspberry-lychee gelée, I knew I had to replace Hermé’s gellan gum. Gellan gum is different from gelatin in that it is not very thermoreversible (this means that the gelée will not easily reverse into a liquid, unlike gelatin, upon heating). Gellan gum is difficult to find, and also using it will result in a perfectly rectangular prism of gelée in the center of your croissant. Um, no thanks.

I couldn’t use gelatin, however, because gelatin gelées ‘melt’ at around body temperature. Using gelatin would mean that the gelée would melt into a mess while the croissants were baking.

Rolled up Ispahan croissant made with raspberry and lychee. Click to get the recipe!

I settled on agar, which has similar liquid-setting properties as gelatin and gellan gum. Agar is much easier to find than gellan gum and it is available at most health food stores. It also is not as thermoreversible as gelatin, and so it can withstand higher temperatures that the croissants would be exposed to while baking.

The agar ended up being unable to keep the gelée together while the croissants baked, but it wasn’t really a problem because the croissant dough had formed a nice seal around the gelée during proofing (after I had pressed a couple of gaps closed). This makes me think that gelatin might work as well in these (although I haven’t tried it – if you do, I would love to hear about it).

I later glazed the baked croissants with a really simple rose-scented icing to give the croissants a stronger rose profile.

I also crushed some freeze dried raspberries on top to help give the outer layer of the croissant a perfect crunch that complimented the delicate, buttery, and raspberry-y center.

Ispahan croissant with rose-scented almond paste, raspberry-lychee gelee, rose flavoured icing, and freeze dried crunchy raspberries. Click to get the recipe!

The great thing about making croissants is that even if you don’t make them absolutely perfectly, they still taste amazing straight out of the oven.

Ispahan Croissants
Ispahan croissants, inspired by Hermé, contain rose-scented almond paste, raspberry-lychee gelée, and crunchy raspberries. Post includes photo instructions.
For the croissant dough:
  • 2½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup (62.5ml) + ¾ (187.5ml) cups milk
  • ¼ cup (50g) sugar
  • 3 cups (375g) + 2 tablespoons (16g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup (210g) cold butter
For the raspberry and lychee gelée:
  • 3 tablespoons (40g) lychees, diced and patted dry
  • 1¾ cups (200g) raspberries, pureed
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon agar powder
  • 2¼ tablespoons water
For the rose-scented almond paste:
  • 1 cup (125g) blanched almonds
  • 1 cup (125g) icing sugar
  • ¾ (30g) egg white
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • ½ teaspoon rose water
For the egg wash:
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon water
For the icing:
  • 1 cup (125g) icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) water
  • lightly crushed freeze dried raspberries, optional
Prepare the croissant dough:
  1. You can find my full croissant dough instructions here. Follow the steps up until cutting out the triangles, and then use the rest of these instructions to fill and decorate the croissants (you should work on both recipes together).
Prepare the raspberry and lychee gelée:
  1. Line an 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the raspberry puree, sugar, agar, and water in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Boil for five minutes.
  3. Pour the mixture into the pan and sprinkle the diced lychees on top.
  4. Refrigerate until set (about an hour) and then cut out strips approximately 1.5cm (0.5 inches) wide and 7cm (3 inches) long. Chill gelée until ready to use.
Prepare the rose-scented almond paste:
  1. Process all ingredients in a food processor until lumpy and sticky (note that it should not reach the consistency of almond or peanut butter).
  2. Place the almond paste in the fridge to chill for a couple of hours, and then place it between two sheets of parchment paper.
  3. Roll out the almond paste until is it about 2mm thick (1/16 inches) by pressing the rolling pin on the top sheet of parchment paper.
  4. Cut out triangles about 12cm (4.5 inches) high and 2¾ inches (7cm) at the base. Chill until ready to use.
Assemble the croissants:
  1. Place a triangle of rose-scented almond paste in the triangle of croissant dough. Place a piece of gelée at the bottom of the triangle, cutting some off if necessary so that it will fit.
  2. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
  3. Tightly roll up the croissant from the base, streching it as you do, so that there are three full rolls of croissantthat makes seven "steps". Place the croissants on a parchment paper lined baking tray about 5cm (2 inches) apart.
  4. If you see any of the gelée, lightly press together the dough to seal any gaps.
Bake the croissants:
  1. Brush the croissants with egg wash (an egg beaten with a teaspoon of water).
  2. To proof the croissants leave them at room temperature for a few hours until they are doubled in size.
  3. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Lightly brush the croissants again with egg wash (double egg washing helps them develop a nice crispy exterior). Bake for about 15-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
Prepare the icing:
  1. Stir together the icing sugar and water until the icing is thick and syrupy.
  2. Wait for the croissants to cool slightly (about ten minutes) and then drizzle on the icing and top with the freeze dried raspberries, if using.


19 thoughts on “Ispahan Croissants

  1. So pretty!! And raspberry, rose, lychee is a stellar combination. I just happen to have freeze dried raspberries in my pantry and have been contemplating what I want to do with them. I love the way you used them. Well played!

  2. Congratulations , you now have completed your compulsory years of school. Much credit to You and your Parents –I think–yes definitely!!!. All this and the distraction of a fan club er web site and er comments. What next? do not allow us to impede your accomplishments in College if you consider food a “hobby” so be it —if you consider your blog an outlet so be it, — what is your passion?? follow that dream? Economics what? food economics??? the economics of food perhaps? Philosophy??? what kind of paycheck is that? Mathmatics?? Be the change you want to see in the world. Okay… you still have to pay rent… business, finance, start looking at the want ads now and what kind of background the employer seeks for a candidate in a field that “interests/tolerate….or start your own business now(birthday party cakes??) or work for a caterer you serve the fabulous food and observe how it managed I say managed to get to your tray….

    • Yes Kathleen, I’m ready for university now! I’m going to a business program, which sounds like it will be a lot of fun. Law school is the plan after that. Thanks for the advice! :)

  3. Hey Ilan, these look great, I was wondering can you recommend any books on pastries that you have found are particularly well documented and interesting?

    On a side note, I am a massive coffee fanatic, you’ve probably already seen this but if not, Blue Bottle Coffee has come up with this rather curious mondrian cake :)

  4. What a lovely trip your brother took you on, I do hope you will share your experiences and photos. I love San Francisco and hope to return someday soon (I’ve been twice, once with work and once with my hubby).
    These croissants look fantastic and sound absolutely delicious.

  5. I have always failed at making croissants either they don’t proof enough or when they bake the oil seeps out and turns into fried croissants. Do you have any tips to prevent this and still have croissants? Yours look amazing.

    • Sure Eva! Are you using the proof setting in your oven? That often is too hot and can cause the butter to melt during the proofing process, which is definitely not what you want. I sometimes proof mine up to four hours at room temperature. Also, be careful when folding the butter, and always make sure your dough is cold. Check out my croissant tutorial, it has a lot of helpful tips and tricks.

  6. Wow,this is just awesome! I have seen the ”Isaphan croisant” on internet,but i never though there would be a recipe for this heavenly Viennoise . Thank you so much for sharing this recipe

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