My biggest inspiration in the pastry world is the famed French pastry chef Pierre Hermé and his ingenious flavour combinations. One of the highlights of my career was getting to spend three days at the Valrhona pastry school in France learning how to make his classic desserts. We were lucky enough to have Pierre Hermé spend a day in the pastry lab sharing with us his passion for pastry and many behind-the-scenes details about his company.
One of my favourite Pierre Hermé creations is the Ispahan, a macaron gâteau filled with lychees, rose ganache, and fresh raspberries. After one taste of that gorgeous flavour combination I just knew we had to try it at Duchess! We used the basic idea and flavours for the Isaphan as a starting point and put our own twist on it to create l’Amour. We make it in a heart shape for Valentine’s Day and use our homemade raspberry jam to really boost the flavours. If Pierre Hermé ever got to try our version of his famous dessert, I hope we would do him proud.
You can find the recipe for the French Meringue Macarons Batter identified in the ingredients list below, by clicking here.
- 1 batch of French Meringue Macarons, batter only (see note in Recipe Details above)
- 1 batch of Vanilla Bean Buttercream (page 33, Duchess Bake Shop)
- 1 pint (2 cups) fresh raspberries
- 1/2 batch of Easy White Chocolate Ganache + 1 tsp rose water (page 31, Duchess Bake Shop)
- 1/4 cup homemade or good-quality raspberry jam
- 1/3 cup drained and chopped canned lychees
- a few fresh raspberries for garnish
To Make the Macaron Shells
- Cut a piece of parchment paper the size of your baking sheet and trace 2 heart shapes onto it, each 7 by 7 inches. Place the template on the baking sheet and cover it with a second piece of parchment. The shapes will show through for you to use as a guide when piping.
- As soon as the batter is made and the macaronage has been done, place a piping bag fitted with a tip inside a tall glass and fold the edges of the bag over the rim. Fill the bag with macaron batter.
- Hold the piping bag vertically with the tip 1/2 inch above the baking sheet. With even pressure, while holding your piping bag steady, pipe concentric hearts onto the lined baking sheet following the template that you have placed underneath, starting on the outside and working your way in.
- Let the shells rest at room temperature until a skin forms on the surface. This should take 20 to 25 minutes. Test for readiness by touching the top of a shell with your finger. The batter should not feel sticky. While the shells are resting, preheat your oven to 350F (180C), positioning the oven rack in the middle of the oven.
- Bake the shells for 12 minutes. Briefly open the oven door to let out steam, rotate the baking sheet, and bake for another 8 minutes. Note: oven times may vary. If the shells start to brown around the edges, immediately remove them from the oven.
- Let the shells cool for 20 minutes before carefully peeling them off the parchment paper. At this stage, you can wrap the shells in plastic wrap or place them in a sealed, air-tight container and freeze them for up to a week before filling. Let thaw at room temperature for 20 minutes before assembling.
To Assemble the Gâteau
- Fill one of the tipless piping bags with rose ganache and the other with raspberry jam. Cut a hole at the end of each bag, making sure the hole for the rose ganache bag is small enough to fit into the centre of a raspberry. Fill a piping bag fitted with a tip with vanilla buttercream.
- Pipe rose ganache into the centre of each raspberry and arrange the raspberries, filled side down, in a heart shape along the outer edge of the bottom macaron shell. Add a 'V' shape of filled raspberries inside the heart.
- Pipe a thin layer of vanilla buttercream between the rows of raspberries. Top with a thin layer of raspberry jam.
- Spoon chopped lychees onto the raspberry jam and top with another thin layer of buttercream. The filling should now come up even with the tops of the raspberries.
- Place the second macaron shell on top and press gently, taking care not to crack it.
- Pipe a small dot of rose ganache on top o the shell and garnish with a fresh raspberry and chocolate cigarettes, if desired.
- Will keep for up to three days in the refrigerator.