The Elements of Dessert Hardcover – Nov 5 2012
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Without a doubt, the must-have gift for the serious baker, professional or aspiring pro-pastry chef on your holiday list is Francisco Migoya’s Elements of Dessert. How can I say that with such confidence? Two reasons: 1) Having seen the way other accomplished pastry chefs interact with Francisco Migoya at different industry events over the last three years, such as StarChefs and Top 10 Pastry Chef Awards–Migoya is clearly someone they admire and respect. And 2) Because none other than Michael Laiskonis, Creative Director of the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) and generally regarded as one of the top pastry chefs in the US told me
“Francisco Migoya is probaby the most important pastry chef in America right now”– high praise indeed!
Part pastry school textbook, part coffee table book, this is a monster 537 page volume that provides the “blueprints” for hundreds of different desserts in every dessert category. Aside from the recipes and guidelines for petite fours, pre-desserts, dessert buffets and cakes, the book also has many adventurous and fun plated dessert recipes, such as “Warm pandan leaf -infused caramelized cream, black sesame genoa bread, hibiscus glaze, popcorn shoot (all part of the same dessert).
The book truly covers all the bases. As the review on StarChefs, who recently named it one of the top books of 2012, notes:
“[the book] delves succinctly into the creaming method, the custard method, the time and place for a meringue, the proper approach to composed cheese courses…The starkly beautiful pictures of Migoya’s modernist creations are, so to speak, the icing on the intricately composed cake”
As I mentioned, Migoya is frequently sought after for his advice on both the technical and aesthetic aspects of pastry. Joseph Baker, a well-known pastry chef and a Pastry and Baking instructor at Le Cordon Blue in Dallas TX, who is often consulted on advanced baking issues himself, said this about Migoya and his book
“He [Migoya] is actually the reason I now teach. He shares his creations and improves the overall landscape of food. Chef Migoya is a true pioneer in our industry and his book, The Elements of Dessert, is a perfect guide to contemporary pastry… any Migoya book is a must have.”
One of his former students at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) echoed those sentiments:
“[Migoya] brings an intensity [to his work] that few of my other instructors could match in my time there. So much so that I was afraid of him for some time!” —Dessert Buzz
Even in a long career, it's never a bad idea to brush up on the basics, especially when it comes to pastry. The Elements of Dessert does just that, and no wonder. It's written by CIA Chef Instructor and International Chefs Congress Presenter Francisco Migoya, who delves succinctly into the creaming method, the custard method, the time and place for a meringue, the proper approach to composed cheese courses, and the various types of dough. Heck, it even has a short section on “the method for tasting food,” in case you were doing it wrong (hint: you might have been, as Migoya offers a spreadsheet on flavor compatibility and “frontal versus background flavors”). But it also offers hundreds of brilliantly confounding and innovative recipes, from plated desserts to mignardises and entremets and even dessert buffets. The starkly beautiful pictures of Migoya’s modernist creations are, so to speak, the icing on the intricately composed cake. by Nicholas Rummell —StarChefs
From the Inside Flap
In The Elements of Dessert, renowned pastry chef Francisco Migoya and The Culinary Institute of America take you on a guided tour through the innovative flavors, ingredients, and techniques in the thrilling world of desserts. He explains the art of dessert through its most essential and fundamental elementssuch as mousses, doughs, and ganachesrevealing in each recipe how to incorporate these building blocks into inventive, unforgettable delicacies. He begins by covering the core concepts and techniques, including flavor breakdowns focused on combinations and compatibility; basic pastry methods; principles of dessert and menu composition; preparation methods for essentials such as custards, creams, and meringues; and chocolate making and tempering basics.
After exploring these essentials, Migoya delves into the desserts themselves, divided into distinct groups:
Pre-desserts: Semi-sweet small dishessuch as Goat Cheese Bavarian Cream with Beet Jelly and Date Pound Cake Crumbsintended to bridge the gap between savory main courses and fully sweet desserts.
Plated Desserts: Simple, modern, and elegantly plated recipes like Toasted Milk Panna Cotta Covered in Caramelized Milk Chocolate with a Crisp Croissant Crouton and Devil's Food Cake Soup.
Dessert Buffets: A wide range of small items from which diners may choosewith an emphasis on dishes that will keep, as well as on visual impact and presentationsuch as Chocolate Blackout Cake with 64% Dark Chocolate Mousse, Luxardo Cherries, and Crème Fraîche.
Passed Around Desserts: Small nibbles that are plattered and passed around the room, usually in easy-to-handle forms like lollipops or macarons.
Sections on cakes (Entremets) and petits fours (Mignardises) round out this collection of awe-inspiring desserts and highly sophisticated techniques. With Migoya's unique approach and clear guidance, combined with gorgeous and instructive photography, The Elements of Dessert offers a comprehensive education that will empower pastry students and working professionals alike to reach new heights in both flavor and presentation.See all Product Description
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Francisco Migoya is a professor at the Culinary Institute of America and previously has worked with Thomas Keller at French Laundry and Bouchon. In 2008 he released his highly acclaimed Frozen Desserts, which was followed with Modern Café in 2009 - another well received book. Now Migoya has released yet another girthy book that just oozes the knowledge that he's accumulated since Modern Café.
There's no stinginess of information with Migoya. With over 525 pages, covering: Basic elements, Pre-desserts, Plated desserts, Dessert buffets, Passed-around desserts, Cakes and Petits Fours, each section starts with a gorgeous photograph of the final dessert and assembly instructions. Following these, Migoya then breaks down each dessert with the individual recipes. While some basic knowledge is needed, Migoya doesn't assume that you know proper batter folding techniques or what tempering is. Clearly a first semester student in his class could have success with this book as well as a well-seasoned chef looking for new ideas.
The book is not without its flaws, although I find these to be far less noticeable than most pastry books. The publisher has separated the recipes from the photos and assembly directions. So if you want to see how to make the Salted Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Raising Jelly Veil on page 206, you will need to turn to page 257 to find the recipes. And likewise, if you're not fully awake you may even miss the transition from Toasted Milk Panna Cotta that starts on page 254 and continues right up against the Salted Peanut Butter Ice Cream on 257 separated only by a small logo and photo behind the recipe title. A designer was trying to be a bit too clever or efficient with space and made the organization more challenging than it needed to be. The other flaw is that Migoya has quite a few unique serving dishes, molds and ingredients, which the reader is referred to discover in a Resources section. There were a few items that I could not find in the Resources despite quite a bit of research - please tell me where to get the fillable tubes! But again, these two flaws are insignificant in comparison to the quality of the book.
If you're not convinced that $40US isn't a good investment, consider a few of the recipes:
*Bacon ice cream, Quebec maple syrup-flavored kataifi, brown butter panna cotta & burning hay scent
*Warm pandan leaf-infused caramelized cream, black sesame genoa bread, hibiscus glaze & popcorn shoots
*White miso pot de crème, green tea génoise crumbs, kumquat marmalade, kumquat jelly
Some of the 200+ recipes are exotic but not so far out there that they're irrelevant. Most are common flavors prepared in the most modern and proven of techniques. I appreciate his ability to explain preparations for well-equipped kitchens but also for more humble kitchens - there are very few recipes that you can't make at home.
Migoya continues to prove himself as one of the top pastry chefs in the country and certainly one of the top pastry educators anywhere. Elements of Dessert is worth far more than its price, and certainly exceeds a much larger stack of books that sit on my shelf collecting dust.
Two of my favorite cakes can be converted into a "soup", which can be made into a dessert sauce - Devils Food Cake and Red Velvet Cake.
Its a MUST HAVE for pastry professionals.