Pierre Hermé’s Rose Syrup

Sirop de Rose

[Pierre Hermé’s Rose Syrup]

I attended the two-day Omnivore Food Festival in Le Havre last week, during which a number of renowned chefs gave cooking demonstrations.

Among them was Pierre Hermé: he didn’t actually pipe the ganache himself, but rather commented on his pastries as his sous-chef expertly assembled them onstage. The main focus of the presentation was the Ispahan — his signature pairing of rose, litchi and raspberry — and the wide range of variations he has weaved around it over time: macarons, entremets, tarts, chocolate, jam, ice-cream, and even a (non-edible) lucky charm.

I was very interested to learn that Pierre Hermé invented the Ispahan as he was working for Ladurée. It wasn’t a popular pastry back then and he sold very few. But still, he persisted and kept making them, because he thought the flavor pairing worked well, and he felt sure the public would come around eventually. He was right of course: when he set up shop under his own name on rue Bonaparte, the Ispahan quickly became — and remains to this day — his absolute best-seller.

What I really enjoyed about Pierre Hermé’s presentation was how precisely he described the recipes that were being demonstrated, making sure he shared the ingredients and the corresponding amounts. He seems to have enough confidence in his team’s skills and his own resources of creativity not to hoard secrets: his latest book documents his work over the past ten years in great detail, and he has helped create a pastry course at the Parisian cooking school Grégoire Ferrandi.

Of course, having never attempted to follow one of his more intricate recipes, I can’t guarantee that he doesn’t leave out that one small but decisive detail. But I choose to believe him, and rather like the idea of a magician who doesn’t mind sharing his tricks, because he knows that by the time you’ve worked hard and finally managed to imitate him, he will still be way ahead of you, having invented a dozen more sleights of hand.

During the course of his talk, Pierre Hermé discussed some of the key products that he uses, where they come from, and how he selects them by conducting comparative taste tests. One of the products he mentioned is the rose syrup that goes into the Ispahan, which comes from an Indian shop at 33 rue Notre-Dame-de-Lorette in the 9th. My ears perked up instantly: “Hey, that’s right by where I live!”, I thought, carefully writing down the address.

A few days later, back in Paris, I paid the shop a little visit. It is one of those completely achromatic stores that you would likely walk right by with nary a glance: with no identifiable sign out front, it is hard to know what they’re selling, or if they’re even open to the public.

But it had Pierre Hermé’s stamp of approval, so I stepped right in and started browsing the shelves in the tiny room. The man tending the store asked if he could assist, and I explained what I was looking for. “Oh, you know Pierre Hermé?”, he asked with a bright smile, as if we had a good friend in common. “Well, I wouldn’t put it that way”, I replied, and told him about the conference and the recommendation.

He pointed to one of two bottles of rose syrup, and said, “That is the one. Seven euros.” “What about the other one?”, I asked. “Seven euros too, but not as good”, he said. I bought my Natco rose syrup, asked about the homemade vegetable samosas that a sign was advertising (sadly, they were all out), and happily accepted the little leaflet of Indian recipes that he offered to slip into the bag. “Don’t throw it out though”, he warned, “these are family recipes.” I nodded solemnly. Throw out recipes? Who would do such a thing?

And so, I now have this tall bottle of rose syrup in my liquor cabinet. It is sitting hip-to-hip with my bottle of red poppy syrup — last time I checked they were playing Crazy Eights. What am I going to do with it? Well, that is a good question, thank you. I am not entirely sure: I might try to make loukoums (Turkish delights) and will be experimenting with it in my baking, making sure I am light-handed as a feather, to avoid the dreaded munching-on-a-bar-of-soap phenomenon. And I have also taken note of the label’s suggestion to add a drop of it to a glass of Champagne.

Shah & Cie
33, rue N-D de Lorette (in the 9th)
01 42 85 55 16

  • definitely avoid the soap bar munching but if you figure out how to make the really yummy turkish delights please let us know!

  • Alisa

    I chuckled out loud at the crazy 8’s reference!!! And so cool to find another hidden treasure.

  • Michelle

    Bonjour Clotilde,

    One more thing to think about with the rose syrup — when I was a child in Singapore I used to love this drink called “bandung”, that was really nothing more than milk with rose syrup in it. I liked it mostly because it was pink — as I got older the flavour no longer appealed to me as much, and I haven’t had it in years. It’s kind of an old-fashioned drink, even in Singapore, and isn’t popular with the children I know nowadays.

    Still, it might be something to try. It’s gloriously – scarily – pink, and tastes simply of milk and roses. And with the good fresh milk you can get in France, I bet it could be pretty delish. =)

  • debby

    You might check in the archives of Tigers & Strawberries for recipes using rose; I believe she posted a couple some months back.

  • Swan

    You can use some sirup to flavour merengue and make mini pavlova’s with that, to fill with cream and strawberry. Very yum….

  • kim

    Wow, people come to Le Havre willingly? ;) heh… next time (if there is one, that is), give me a holler and we’ll have lunch.

  • Clotilde,
    I had to comment since I had just finished making a rendition of the Ispahan (see my page). I had never seen rose syrup in the grocery as well but I am fortunate to have many Indian neighbors and it is a very common ingredient for them – and very cheap at the Indian groceries! I was told using rose syrup to make a sort of milkshake is a very popular dessert!

  • Lilia

    Chere Clotilde,

    Another find! I always bring back a bottle of sirop de Rose de Provence for my daughter. Now, I have another source with Shah & Cie.

    Now, the Ispahan – my absolute favorite Pierre Herme pastry even though I’ve enjoyed the emotion mahogany very much (I think it is the litchi). I remember my first bite after having one at Laduree and there is no going back – Ispahan means Pierre Herme to me.

    Thank you for countless hours of pleasure you give to us – all your fans!


  • Clotilde, in that wonderful shop they also had sometimes fresh curry leaves, you should try it (even if PH doesn’t recommand it) !!!

  • sabs

    I agree with what someone mentioned earlier- use the syrup with milk.

    The way I was taught to make it was by boiling the milk with a little sugar and then cooling it down completely and adding the syrup to it. The colder it is the better it seems to taste. If you want to go one step further, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!

  • I was thinking I’d suggest trying the rose syrup in a kir or something…and then I read your last sentence! Do try it in champagne; it’s delicious.

  • Hi Clotilde,

    I’ve also heard that PH created Ispahan while working for Laduree, but I’ve never tried THEIR version of the rose-lychee-raspberry macaron they may still have at Laduree. That could be interesting to compare the both.

    And I didn’t know he released a new book last year! If only I have a chance to take a look inside to see how it’s all like, before clicking BUY-NOW…

  • I’ve had ice cream at Persian restaurants that are rose-flavored; with a light hand its really wonderful. Another idea to try!

  • Helene

    Bonjour Clotilde

    Have you tried adding rose syrup at the end of the recipe of strawberry or plum jam. I made plum jam with rosewater and it was delicious. Just a small amount of syrup in the jam would be fabulous

  • Lovely photo and interesting topic! Would be interested to know what you will make with it!

  • mary

    oh please, please, please, a thousand times please, make turkish delight! and share the results with us of course. :)

  • Chloe

    You can make a flavoured water using rose syrup (recipe from an edition of Delicious magazine), which is 1/4 cup of dried edible rosebuds, 1/4 of rose syrup and 1.25 litres of chilled sparkling water. It sounds very refreshing!

  • j’ai terminé ma bouteille d’eau de rose hier pour pocher des poires. Je me demande si je ne vais pas la remplacer par du sirop après tout ce que je viens de lire ! bises.

  • Michelle is right. A wonderfully simple drink is to add the syrup to fresh milk. You don’t have to boil it with sugar. The syrup is sweet enough.

    Another thing to try is to make a Rose Jelly – using agar-agar. It’s truly refreshing.

  • For all you lucky Parisiens-> on March 20th, Pierre Hermé is celebrating la fête du macaron in both his boutiques !
    more info here…I am soooo jealous!
    Please report back if you go Clotilde, so we can get a vicarious thrill :)

  • French Toast

    Wow, I’m impressed. I lived in that very neighborhood for a year and never noticed that place. Quite a hidden treasure…

  • I adore Pierre Herme and the Ispahan. I knew it was popular but didn’t realize it was his most popular. My mouth is watering…great descriptive article!

  • faustianbargain

    hi C, cold rosemilk was quite popular in india when i was a kid. especially during summer. it also turns up as ice cream and rose jam. we have rose syrup(sweetened) and rosewater(just water scented with the flavour of rose. i much prefer this to the cloyingly sweet rose syrup) which more often than not turns up as part of a woman’s toileteries. a splash of rose water is supposed to refresh the face. sandalwood moistened with rosewater serves as a facepack, rosewater+glycerin for callouses on feet etcetcetc. but back to food, here is a childhood favourite. carbonated rosewater drink. very subtle, of course, but interesting.

    lychee(when it is in season in india..which isnt for long) is considered to be a lot like rose, flavour wise. in fact, i remember noting down a recipe for a onion dessert is lychee flavoured because the onion has been blanched(several times. the ‘flavour’ of onion comes from how it smells and not how it tastes) and a few drops of rose water was added. and lo behold!, it became lychee flavoured! i can give you the recipe if you want it.

  • MJ

    Chere Clotilde! This is my first comment to you, though I’ve been a longtime fan. Your prose is as delectable as your recipes!

    I love to make rice pudding with rose flavouring–usually I use rosewater, if on hand, for its delicacy, but I’ve used rose syrup as well, with great success. Plus the syrup has the added charm of turning the pudding a charming shade of pink…

  • Arashi

    You could use the rose sirop if you do north african food. I am pretty sure it would go well with a orange and carotte salad

  • rebecca

    I also use a few drops of rose syrup in lemonade, and it is great!

  • KateC

    Hi Clotilde,

    Longtime reader, first time poster. I just had to weigh in on the rose water/syrup recommendations. A few weeks ago I made your yogurt cake, splitting the batter in half to make a layered cake. I then spread jam between the layers and on top. Then I covered it in a chocolate ganache made with 4oz choco, 1/2c cream and 1tsp rose water (ganache recipe from “I want chocolate”). It was amazing (thanks to your great recipe)! The jam and rose water made a great pairing-no soapy taste. I’m sure the syrup could be substituted.

    Anyway, I love your site. It has inspired me to cook.

  • berkeley girl

    Your post on rose syrup made me think of my recent splurge on pomegranate concentrate (also called pomegranate molasses). It’s cooked down pomegranate juice with no added sugar (about 1/2 cup molasses = 1 cup fresh juice, I think), sweet and but with a tart bite. Have you ever tried it? I’ve put it in everything: salad dressing, sauce (for tofu, since I’m a vegetarian), over yogurt and fruit… I imagine it would also go well over anything one might use jam, fruit syrup, or fruit liqueur for: poured over ice cream, drizzled over brownies or pancakes, or in a cake, esp. for the glaze.

    -berkeley girl

  • alexs

    Try rose and chili, they are good company, like a Parisian girly and a Santiagoan (sp?) guy on a great date! They mix well with chocolate, too and can manage even in things like a sheeps milk panna cotta when you’re really throwing caution to the wind.
    wheeeee! try it you’ll like it! my guests never complain ;-)

  • mangolassi

    What a great thing to have in the cabinet – I think that in addition to a drop in champagne and all the lovely suggestions so far, it might be nice in chocolate ganache – I recently had a Turkish Delight flavored Cadbury bar, and while I loved the idea of chocolate + rosewater it unfortunately was filled with a synthetic tasting gel – I’d love to try something similar with a good, natural rose flavor. It might be interesting in a rice pudding, too.

  • Niya

    Chere Clotilde,

    Here in Canada my parent’s own an East Indian restaurant..and I will share our secret recipe for ” I was told using rose syrup to make a sort of milkshake is a very popular dessert!”

    In a 12oz glass place a couple of ice cubes and 1 oz of glass noodles cooked in sugar syrup until tender. Douse liberally with the rose syrup, until it is vividly pink. Then pour in milk leaving about an inch from the top of the glass. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream, douse with yet more syrup and then top with whipped cream. The noodles add an interesting texture. This is beautiful in the summer time.

  • Hello Clotilde,

    I use rose syrup to make a Rose Martini – add a little syrup to a cocktail shaker, add Ciroc French vodka (it’s made with grapes and is slightly sweet), shake, and serve in a sugar-rimmed glass.

    I also use it to make Persian Love Tea:

    It actualy calls for rose water, but rose syrup works …

  • Ann

    I love to add some rose syrup to my tee. My friend from Greece uses it for baklava.

  • Wendy

    Can anyone help?
    I tried making rose jelly out of the rose syrup and sure-jell and sugar but it did not jell properly. Has anyone else tried this?
    I simply love rose jelly on toast or scones in the morning.

  • Dear Clotilde, thanks so much for the rose syrup find! I’ve been looking for an alternative to my local rose syrup, as most have barely any roses in them. Far too bland, and don’t make you feel special at all. This is great!

Get the newsletter

Receive FREE email updates with all the latest recipes, plus exclusive inspiration and Paris tips. You can also choose to be notified when a new post is published.

View the latest edition of the newsletter.