Ispahan Cupcakes [Lychee-Rose Cupcakes with Raspberry Meringue Buttercream]

Over the past weekend, I became obsessed with all things Pierre Herme. Well, actually, it began with an obsession with all things Isapahan. Isapahan is a flavor combination developed by Herme. He initially developed as a macaron for the famed Laduree. It is supposedly Laduree’s most popular flavor, and Herme has since developed a cake, ice cream, jam, and even a limited edition charm utilizing the sweetly pretty combination of lychee, rose, and raspberries.
I felt that I had to hunt down some lychees. Apparently, they are out of season, and even finding a canned version took me into the depths of Chinatown – deep into an area that lacked signage in English. My can of lychees contained over a pound of the fruit. Which is why I had a Isapahan weekend – I needed to do something with it. The outer skins of the lychees had been removed, and once naked, they resemble a shell-less scallop. They were the prettiest, most pale peach-pink color, almost white, and similar to a sea scallop in texture and size. Straight out of the can, they were briny and reminded me of jackfruit. After a few rinses, I could appreciate their firm texture and delicate syrupy sweetness. I initially had ice cream in mind, but I decided to make cupcakes that night (and a lychee-rose ice cream swirled with raspberry coulis the next day).
The boy didn’t expect to eat any, he adamantly said that he did not like cupcakes. However, in the end, we both ate several, and declared them to be the bestest cupcakes I had ever made.

I give you this photograph of a bitten cupcake to display the crumb – not too dry and flavorlessly fluffy, but not overly dense and heavy. The three flavors – lychee, raspberry, and rose-water – are exquisite together. I expected something sweet, fruity, and all-out-girly. What I got was a delicate sweetness, a light fruitiness, and a combination that was much more sexy-cocktail-dress than frilly tutu. This is a serious deliciously grown-up cupcake that is still a bit on the feminine side.
{P.S. This was my very first attempt with a frosting bag and tip…and the only tip I own is too small for the effect I was trying to achieve).
Isapahan Cupcakes
Inspired by THESE and THESE, which were inspired HIM
Makes approximately 18-20 cupcakes
Lychee-Rose Cupcakes:
1 cup + 2 tbsp cake flour
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
5/8 cup whole milk
2 egg whites
10 medium lychees, well-drained and pureed in a blender/food processor
1/2 cup sugar
3/8 cup butter (6 tbsp), very soft
1/2 tsp rose water (Mine is a very strong variety, feel free to adjust)
Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt, set aside.
Whisk together milk, egg whites, and lychees in a medium bowl.
In a larger bowl, beat together butter and sugar until very, very pale, approximately 3 minutes on medium-high if using an electric beater. Add in rose-water, then add one-half of the milk mixture, still beating. Beat in the remaining milk mixture, then beat this wet mixture and the dry ingredients together. Beat until mixture is homogeneous and airy.
Use 2 oz. souffle/nut/tasting cups. Place on a baking sheet. Fill each cup about 1/2 full (you can go just a little over instead of under). Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a cake test inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
Allow the cupcakes to cool for approximately 10 minutes.
Raspberry Meringue Buttercream
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home To Yours
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg whites
pinch of salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, very soft
3 tbsp raspberry puree (see here for a recipe on making your own)
Put the sugar and egg whites in a large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a pan of simmering water (or use a double boiler) and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny, slightly opaque and white. Remove the bowl from the heat.
Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6 to 10 minutes. During this time, the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again. On medium speed, gradually beat in the raspberry puree. You should have a deeply pink , smooth buttercream.
P.P.S. I shall be a bit busy until October 10, due to a certain big exam. Which is why the photography section has been missing.

  1. Roshan,

    superb!! sinful!!

  2. Foodessa,

    Joyti…I can really appreciate the adventurous ways you take in order to get what you want ;o)
    The blend sounds very interesting even though I’ve never truly been a fan of Lychee.

    I personally still have not ventured into making cupcakes…hence, I’ll certainly have to B.Mark your fully ‘bestest’ version for later!

    Ciao for now,

  3. Lily,

    Lovely photos. :D

    Love lychees! I can’t eat too many though. They make my feel weird afterwards. / :

  4. so cute and so beautiful…

  5. Sounds very delicate and grown-up. And exquisite! I’ll look forward to catching up again when you’re back.

  6. Rosa Blu,

    Oh my, this delicate combination sounds so good! Perfection…

    Love your photography, as always!

  7. OMG these look utterly delicious. The forsting is not only a beautiful colour it looks fantastic. The colour combinations are so pretty. I could eat about 10. million. <3

  8. *frosting. lol. was way to excited.

  9. lisa,

    These look absolutely sinful!!
    Thank you for sharing them.

  10. Brandi,

    This post was such a huge education — I’ve never heard of Isapahan before and I don’t think I’ve ever even had a lychee. Your cupcakes came out so wonderfully…that crumb really is gorgeous. And your piping job is great, especially since it was your first time (I’m still learning myself).

  11. Rita,

    Your photos,your recipes are always so light and captivating;great information; thank you.
    You have interesting obsessions!

  12. Jude,

    I love lychees too (they grew off my aunt’s tree in Hawaii :)), and while I love them fresh, this sounds truly amazing! I don’t think I’d ever thought of a cupcake as beautiful (they’re more on the cute side) – but these look beautiful.

  13. Carina,

    These cupcake look so perfect. You say you agreed they were the best youve ever made-I must try them one day then:)

    xx Carina

  14. ching,

    the lighting is always perfect in your photos. it makes everything so delectable. :)

  15. They sound wonderful, though if I should make these, I’d cut down on the rose water a bit. I’m a little sensitive to the taste of it. They look fantastic, too!

  16. These really turned out great. The texture looks amazingly light! I actually wouldn’t have minded if my cakes turned out slightly fluffier so perhaps I’ll have to try your cake recipe instead next time. Glad the inspiration led you to this =D.

  17. Swathi,

    I love lychee, cup cakes looks awesome with amazing texture.

  18. Emily Z,

    ooooh, these look wonderful! Sinfully delicious!

  19. omg! these look divine!
    following now your blog on bloglovin!
    thank you for passing by and leaving your sweet comment! remember you can keep in touch following me via bloglovin or facebook!
    xoxo from rome

  20. Yum, yum, yum! I wish I could eat these off my computer screen. Think I’ll visit Pierre Herme tomorrow for a sugar fix :) Paris in Pink

  21. Wow..Those are cuties.Loved the pictures a lot, fresh and neat !!

  22. Victoria K.,

    Holy crap, these looks amazing!! You have certainly been creating some beautiful pink food lately. I completely approve :)

  23. So completely delicious! And have fun on your little blogging break. Well, academic fun I guess.

  24. Anna A.,

    Beauties! PS. What kind of rose water do you use?

  25. sara,

    these look absolutely delicious!
    although i have never had a lychee..
    the colors are beautiful!

  26. Stella,

    Hey Joyti, your photos are so beautiful here. I can see the texture of the cake, which looks perfect. Oh, and the lychee, rose, and raspberry combination does sound extremely lovely.

    Oh, and I was wondering if you could share some camera/photo info if you please. I’m in the market for a new camera, and I feel overwhelmed. My present camera takes overexposed photos and it’s getting worse. I need a new one, and I don’t want to end up with a model that has the same issue (smile)…if you have time;)

  27. Marinka,

    those look so delicious

  28. DolceDreams,

    You are brilliant, these look exquisite!!!

  29. alison,

    looks perfect ,delicate and so beautiful!!!

  30. Valerie,

    Those are the cutest desserts ever! What a perfect treat for a dinner party.


  31. no photographer? :( where did your photographer intorduction go? I miss it! But I love your recipes.
    you´re doing an amaziiiiing blog and I love what you do ♥

  32. GB,

    God I miss litchis (that’s how we spell them in India!) They’re available in june, rich and juicy and packled with flavor. i’ve never tried the canned variety. This recipe looks good and those cupcakes look like little mouthfuls of delght!

    PS: I finally got round to posting on the cake! thanks for everything J.!


  33. tammy,

    these are darling. i absolutely love lychee.

  34. Jennifurla,

    What gorgeous photos, I cant help but want one.

  35. Sinfully delicious, heavenly adorable…loving the 2nd pic after one bit….who was the lucky person…wish I was there :)

  36. Interesting! This Ispahan+baked goods project makes me think of Yves Rocher’s Rose Ispahan perfume — a rich vanilla-soft-rose-amber gourmand’s oriental, IIRC. I hadn’t realized Ispahan was originally a name for a flavor combination. Although it is also a name for a particular type of rose…I wonder which meaning Yves Rocher had in mind? Or perhaps both meanings.

    Anyway, I wish I could try these exquisite cupcakes, and I wish I hadn’t discarded the perfume (it was too gourmand for me at the time, but after reading your post, I want the perfume back!)

  37. well even if the tip size was wrong the cupcakes look divine

  38. Faith,

    These beautiful cupcakes are so inspried! The flavors of lychee, rose, and raspberry do in fact sound amazing together.

  39. That cake looks so fluffy! I’ll have to give these a try sometime. Good luck with your exam!

  40. Thanks for stopping by my blog today and leaving your comment regarding the Colin Firth movie… Never seen it, never heard about it (gasp!) and wonder how on earth I missed it!!! Must run out and rent it asap!!! LOL

    BTW holy cow you are very popular girl on your blog! How awesome is that!!!!

    I suppose when I write about my “little gas” problem later today, I will probably loose all my followers… thinking I may need to take lessons from you! :)

    Cheers Tracy

  41. Sinfully delicious….The snaps are so divine….

  42. never heard of lychee in a cupcake…u sure are creative…liked the spirit with which you went hunting down the lychees to Chinatown…all for the love of food :)


  43. As if the name wasn’t tempting enough, you included the bitten through shot? Absolutely unfair, and completely divine.

  44. ace that exam my dear! i love the presentation of these cupcakes they look so beautiful!

  45. Jess,

    I’m intrigued by a flavour combination that has a specific name – as if the combination becomes one new flavour instead of three separate flavours that just happen to go together. I’m not the world’s biggest lychee fan but I’d be willing to give this a go just to see what the combination tastes like together. Very interesting…

    Best of luck with the exam. :)

  46. Gosh, gorgeous cuppies over there! Love lychee alot…this is sure a party treat! ;) Yummmmm

  47. Allie,

    Wow, these are sooo pretty and delicious! The pink and red makes them so girly!

    I’m inspired to make my own now :)

  48. Maria,

    Just beautiful cupcakes! I’ve never had lychee… I’m wondering if I ever will see them looking as lovely as in and on your cupcakes!
    ~best wishes for your exam~
    Bonne Chance!

  49. Ah! Just delcicious. This looks so yummy and very cocktail-feminine-ish. :) I love any dessert with raspberries in it so this would be wonderful–and I love their dainty size!

    Oh and thank you so much for the sweet comment darling, we love getting comments from you. :)

    Your blog is one of my favourites, darling!

    Lovely post.


  50. Cakelaw,

    Wow, these are beautiful!!! With those flavours, I am sure that they tasted wonderful too. I have on my “to do” list Dorie’s Ispahan loaf cake from Around My French Table – have the ingredients, now just have to actually make it.

  51. Cakelaw,

    And good luck with your exam!!

  52. Ali,

    I’m sure you gave us the picture of the half eaten cuppycake to torture us, not to show us the crumbs. ;) These look delicious and I’m sending this to my mom now!

  53. Koci,

    Those cupcakes look so delicious! Delicate and fluffy and oh-so-lovely.

    I am now incredibly hungry. :D

  54. Signe,

    Wow, these look amazing!
    Would be perfect for an alternative wedding cake actually, that’s how pretty they are :)

  55. Esi,

    So funny. I don’t love plain lychee, but i love cooking with it. Sounds great

  56. Arti,

    Wow… These cupcakes look absolutely beautiful!!!
    Equally delectable I am sure:)

  57. Gosh they are pretty cupcakes, I love the colour of the frosting. I’ve never cooked with lychee before, the flavour combination sounds wonderful.

  58. Looks mouth watering delicious! Although, they are almost too pretty to eat! :) I just spent some time going through your blog and loved it…although I think I gained 10 lbs just from looking! :)

  59. I fully understand the Pierre Hermé’s obsession! This guy is a genius :-) Ispahan are a dream: the sweetness of the lychee, combined with the slightly tart raspberries, in a cloud of delicate rose… Heaven is close-by…

  60. They look delicious!

    xoxo Sootjeelina <3

  61. rosy+tart,

    Wow… those look absolutely incredible! YUM!

  62. anhesty,

    sounds divine! thanks for sharing! definitely saving this to try soon!

  63. Anna,

    Oh Girl! I recently discovered the amazing use of rose water and orange blossom water, it makes the cakes taste like heaven. And now you give me this combination, that sound and looks fantastic. I have no other option then to go lychees hunting. LOL Those cupcakes look adorable.

  64. lindsey,

    am loving your stories as much as the recipes!


  65. Hi, thanks for stopping over my blog…
    Your blog’s beautiful!! The photos, the goodies you’ve made…

    Have a lovely day!

  66. your pictures are really stunning. i love those flavor combo..really delicate and pretty.

  67. emily,

    these look delishhhh! <3

  68. Catarina,

    I really have to try making these, the look so dainty and delicious.
    Good luck with your exam!

  69. Ruzu,

    Looks pretty and yummy *__*

    Thanks for your comment

  70. Daniela,

    Le Immagini Splendide SONO SEI TU e bravissima venire Semper, complimenti . Ciao Daniela.

  71. Oh my!… these look so good and they must taste even better.
    I do want to try making these and many thanks for sharing the recipe.

    Happy weekend

  72. Ginny,

    These are absolutly beautiful, and when you were talking about the lychees, I was already thinking of water chestnuts! These would be so good and beautiful at a baby shower, or a wedding reception. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  73. Kumi,

    Hello Joyti,
    Thanks for visiting my blog.
    Your blog is absolutely beautiful and inspiring!
    I almost reached out for those cute cupcakes!

  74. Sweetums,

    These sound so exquisitely delicious. The photos once again are stunning and those little cupcakes are works of art!

  75. iheartkiwi,

    lychee rose! amazing!

    good luck lady! see you oct. 10th :)

  76. chef_d,

    Oh wow, I can just imagine the flavors of this cupcake!

  77. Indigo,

    These look amazing and so good! Thanks for sharing such a great recipe and the photos are beautiful.

  78. These are absolutely beautiful! They almost look too good to eat! But I’d gladly give them a shot anyway :)

  79. I know these are amazing! That is a fabulous flavor! Whenever I think of lychee, I think of a Chinese programmer that I used to work with. He had won a court case (some small traffic accident or something), and said that he would treat the office to lunch. That day, he brought in giant bags of lychees! That was lunch! It was too cute, but we did have to eat other things, too! XX!

  80. rebecca,

    they are too cute to eat!!

  81. Mindy,

    These look and sound amazing. What an interesting flavour combination.

  82. Sweta,

    Ooooh-that looks awesome!! Any plans of opening a bakery-you’ll be all sold out within minutes of putting this out :)

  83. I am new to your blog and glad to visit it. Waw, You give an interesting presentation and is also adventurous. All your pastries look fabulous. I loved Marzipan Pistachio Spring Rolls. Yet to go through urs..

    Hamsamalini Chandrasekaran,

  84. Leslie,

    These look so irresistible that I must make them soon! Thanks for visiting my blog as I was able to discover yours and now I’m hooked!

  85. Monica,

    Your blog is fantastic. Amaizing photographs and recipes.

  86. alice,

    Lychees are the most underrated fruit there is. I know so few people who like them. I have been looking into ways to cook with them, so will have to try this one out.

    Incidentally, I think I know what effect you were trying to achieve on your beatuiful little cupcakes and to do it, I just put the icing into the bag without the tip on, just the coupler. This blog is bookmarked!

  87. gosh! the cupcakes are pretty and sweet! I want to eat them up!!Xd~

    Dreamy Princess
    ~I wonder what it’s like to live in Paris~

  88. amy,


  89. Mary,

    I’m a first-time visitor, and you have a lovely blog! Thanks for your kind comment on mine. I recently read something about this Pierre Herme flavour and wasn’t convinced I’d like it, but your cupcakes look gorgeous! I love the shot of the crumb of the cupcake–it looks like an angel food cake.

  90. Raina,

    Your cupcakes sound delicious and look gorgeous! I have never heard of lychee, but it sounds very interesting. I would love to try it and your cupcakes as well:)

  91. Erin,

    Yum!! These look absolutely delicious!

  92. Looks yummy! Thanks for sharing the recipe. Have a delightful weekend, Kellie xx

  93. lychees and rose may be two of my favoritest flavors on earth! These definitely sound like the sexy cocktail dresses of the cupcake kingdom! Just yum!!!

  94. Fenny,

    Slerrpppp! I’m craving when I see the pictures. Anyway, I give you award. Check it out!:)

  95. love these, you’re a master at these girly desserts, lovely!

  96. Holly,

    Thanks so much for visiting our blog! These cupcakes are gorgeous!!

  97. thx for the interesting background on isapahan. your trek to find the lychees was all worth it by the looks of these gorgeous cupcakes! they look so delicate & fluffy…yum.
    p.s. good luck on your upcoming exam!

  98. Karen,

    These are precious! Very pretty little cupcakes. The three flavors all sound fantastic! yum…

  99. If these don’t look gorgeous and yummy, I don’t know what they would be!

  100. annette,

    Those cupcakes look heavenly!

  101. Jaime,

    wow…well when you put it that way, i HAVE to try these!! :) thanks for sharing this recipe

  102. Gulmohar,

    Oh my ! That looks so pretty.Love lychees, but never tried them in my bakes..

  103. jemina,

    YUM YUM YUM and Good Luck for your exam darling :), xoxo, J

  104. Daiane,

    these looks so GOOD! fingers crossed for the exam! you’ll come back full speed ahead, can’t wait for the next post!

    come participate in my giveaway if you like! :)

    kisses from

  105. These are the cutest cupcakes! And they look sooo good! I love the color. They do look fluffy!

  106. Lychee cupcakes?! Original combinatio! a would like to try them, im gonna look for some lychees in my twon!

  107. Lady Grey,

    How sublimely lovely!

  108. OOOOMG. I think this is by far the most delicious-looking post I’ve ever seen!

  109. Lancerika,

    exquisite little delicacies!
    wish I can taste just one!
    the pale rose colours are
    the prettiest..
    best wishes to you:)

  110. S and O,

    Oh gosh these look absolutely soft and delectable…I can’t wait to try this recipe :)
    hope your having a great weekend!

  111. Oh my. Exquisite is most definitely the perfect adjective for these cupcakes! I have got to hunt down some lychees pronto! Lovely photos!

    I made a version of your fantastic gingerbread. It’s my new found favorite. :)

  112. Wow — lychee cupcakes. Loved hearing about your dedication to journey outside of your regular shopping area for said fruit. Lychees are a fave and this recipe sounds amazing!

  113. This flavour combination sounds so divine. The addition of lychee is amazing. I think I’ll have a play around with that combo as well… maybe a grown up parfait?

  114. jamie-lee,

    I am SO glad you commented on my blog – I had been thinking to myself about how silly I was for not following your blog straight away (yes I have been thinking for days about all the sweet delights on your blog), so now I have!

    And, like everything else you post, these look absolutely divine! x

  115. Rachana,

    I love lychees and these cupcakes look so good.

  116. this is such a coincidence…g. and i were planning on making cupcakes tonight. we had planned on making the same old ones, but may just have to break out and try these!

  117. Oh dear, Mr Hermé’s got an online shop… very dangerous for the wallet! These cupcakes look so perfect and delicious – when is your book due? (or is there one out already?)

  118. Gracie,

    They are the prettiest little cupcakes. Plus I love that photo of the inside because you can see the soft and fluffy texture.

    I hope your exam goes well!

  119. I know how good the flavors must be. I’ve made Pierre Herme’s rose lychee buche de noel last year. It was to die for. Gorgeous presentation and pics by the way.



  120. wow these look amazing you are so so talented

  121. sophia,

    LYCHEES! I miss that fruit…I used to have it often back in Singapore. Never really appreciated it until now when I can’t have it! And as usual, thank you for providing my much needed dose of food porn. ;)

  122. Lav,

    Jyoti, awesome capture…great photography….first time here…beautiful blog…


  123. Giovanna,

    these are almost too beautiful to eat. raspberry meringue buttercream…yum. i wish i would’ve tried that flavor at laduree when i was in paris last month!

  124. Nirmala,

    Unusual ingredients. I love it. The cake part looks extremely moist and I can’t wait to try it.

  125. Patzie,

    as i read your entry, i can feel the taste of Lychee in my mouth! So mouth-watering! I have had not so good experience with cupcakes as some that i have tried were heavy and just too much. Maybe i should give it a try for just the cupcake first (frosting later, i’m so horrible at making frosting!)

  126. 5amjetaime,

    aloha! I gave an award to your blog! Welcome to check it out on!!! looking forward to your new posts! xoxo, gabrielle

  127. jess,

    The cupcakes are so pretty.

  128. Megan,

    You have taught me many things I did not know before and your cupcakes look and sound all the more delicious for it! I love the adventurous way you cook!

  129. Jada C.,

    oh my goodness, CUPCAKES. Yum :]

  130. El,

    Pierre Herme, huh? Now you have me obsessed too. These look sensational.

  131. oh my LORD! those are so cute and look insanely delicious.

  132. Hannah,

    Beautiful cakes, and hurray for another ispahan fan! I love the combination of flavors, but few of my friends or family share that enthusiasm… They just don’t know what they’re missing. ;)

  133. I’m an Isphahan fan as well! When I score some fresh raspberries, I’ll make some. Thanks for sharing.

  134. These are so lovely and the combination of flavors is just delightful :)

  135. Dawn,

    I love the little serving size….

  136. Deepti,

    Simply great…Looks so tempting…Can imagine the combination of the flavors

  137. Looking back on this post, I can see every reason why this has 160 comments. Please send me some! nomnom. ♥

  138. Fé...,

    OMG! Want. Want. Want. Dessert is my guilty pleasure. I can never say no ;p Thanks for sharing, dear… Have a fancy weekend!

  139. Hooray, I can
    put my rosewater
    to use, again :)!
    This sounds and
    LOOKS divine! Good
    luck with the BIG
    xx Suzanne

  140. I had rto scroll down a lot to reach to the comment section :) Shows how popular and lovely your cup cakes would be. Beautiful molds and great texture.

  141. bronwyn,

    I have never heard of this flavor combination and I am seriously intrigued. Bot the cupcake and the ice cream sound amazing.

  142. Raji,

    These look just delightful
    So fun and absolutely delicious
    I haveee to try this!

  143. sangeeta,

    Anything with lychi and these are so beautiful.

  144. omg! i just found out about your blog! you have such an amazing photos that make me wanna bake NOW! (and since i hate spending any time in the kitchen and making tea is as much as i do there, it’s quite and achivement!!! )
    following you on bloglovin!
    thank you for passing by and leaving your sweet comment! i’m happy you liked my blog! remember you can keep in touch with my blog via blogger, bloglovin or facebook!

    xoxo from rome

  145. Ula,

    gosh these look amazing

  146. Sasa,

    What a lovely blog Joyti! I love the clean layout and wonderful pictures, simply beautiful.

  147. Jaime,

    me again – i plan to make these and have everything now – just noticed you noted your rose water is very strong. what brand do you buy? i got Cortas and wasn’t sure if i would need to adjust the amount or not. would you mind shooting me a quick email? :) thanks!

  148. Mike,

    Congrats on making the best cupcakes ever. I’m sure they taste amazing. You are the master at making cupcakes.

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