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"The Elements of Dessert" – Francisco J. Migoya


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Has anyone seen this book? I've sort of been eyeballing it the last few weeks, and just saw today that its apparently not on pre-order anymore, but available to ship from Amazon. Looks like a nice CIA text on dessert, heres the table of contents:

Ch1 The Basic Elements 1

Ch2 Pre-Desserts 105

Ch3 Plated Desserts 163

Ch4 Dessert Buffets 261

Ch5 Passed-Around Desserts 331

Ch6 Cakes (Entremets) 381

Ch7 Petits Fours (Mignardises) 449

Anyone have thoughts on this one? I'm tempted, but dont really know much about it. LINK

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It's still listed as "available for pre-order" on amazon.ca with an expected release of Oct. 29. I'll most likely get this one, I got (and still get) a lot of use from Frozen Desserts.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Ok, well if you guys wouldn't mind saying a word or two about it if/when you get it, I'd appreciate it. I checked out his blog and found some pics that will apparently be in the book, which look beautiful, plated desserts that go beyond anything I've seen in person. But aside from that, I don't know much else about the book. I haven't seen The Modern Cafe and Frozen Desserts (pardon me) because the subjects don't seem to capture me, but a in depth text on all aspects of dessert with creative techniques, not just a recipe book, appeals to me more. Over all, I generally like the textbooks from CIA, but I purchased Garde Manger a while back and was very disappointed, it seemed more like a giant recipe book with all the same techniques and pictures that were already covered in The Professional Chef. Anyways, I'm guess I'm just a little more cautious now haha. Thanks guys.

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Ok, well if you guys wouldn't mind saying a word or two about it if/when you get it, I'd appreciate it. I checked out his blog and found some pics that will apparently be in the book, which look beautiful, plated desserts that go beyond anything I've seen in person. But aside from that, I don't know much else about the book. I haven't seen The Modern Cafe and Frozen Desserts (pardon me) because the subjects don't seem to capture me, but a in depth text on all aspects of dessert with creative techniques, not just a recipe book, appeals to me more. Over all, I generally like the textbooks from CIA, but I purchased Garde Manger a while back and was very disappointed, it seemed more like a giant recipe book with all the same techniques and pictures that were already covered in The Professional Chef. Anyways, I'm guess I'm just a little more cautious now haha. Thanks guys.

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Do yourself a favour and put preconceptions triggered by previous CIA publications aside and check out Migoya's other two books. The Modern Cafe is just astonishing in its depth and breadth - with loads of inspiration for home cooks, brasseries and more upscale places, as well as cafes. The pastry section alone is worth the purchase price. Frozen Desserts is, by definition, a bit more limited in scope, but the depth of detail on ingredient balancing for both pacotised and regular churn ice creams, sorbets etc, plus the key recipes for provided flavours make it a superb reference tome.

I fully expect The Elements of Dessert to be my favourite cook book of 2012. Just a shame Amazon UK still have it listed as a December release. Looks like it'll be quicker and cheaper to switch to Amazon US.

restaurant, private catering, consultancy
feast for the senses / blog

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Do yourself a favour and put preconceptions triggered by previous CIA publications aside and check out Migoya's other two books. The Modern Cafe is just astonishing in its depth and breadth - with loads of inspiration for home cooks, brasseries and more upscale places, as well as cafes. The pastry section alone is worth the purchase price. Frozen Desserts is, by definition, a bit more limited in scope, but the depth of detail on ingredient balancing for both pacotised and regular churn ice creams, sorbets etc, plus the key recipes for provided flavours make it a superb reference tome.

Ok, just preordered Elements of Dessert! I did look at the Modern Cafe, I dont think I really noticed it before since the cover looked kind of plain. Was slightly worried when I just saw recipe after recipe, but realized that many of those were individual components that make up a beautiful dish. Anyways, I like the format of the book, and further like what he makes. I used to think that Bo Friberg's books The Professional Pastry Chef and The Advanced Professional Pastry Chef were the epitome of beautifully thought out and plated desserts, I think I'm going to be pleasantly surprised with The Elements of Dessert.

The site I saw a few pics on was located here:

http://www.thequenelle.com/2010_11_01_archive.html

http://www.thequenelle.com/2010/12/behind-scenes-elements-of-dessert-pt-3.html

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This arrived yesterday - have only really had a flick through so far, but seems pretty good on first blush. Some things have been seen on his blog in the past couple of years, but he goes into more detail here. Only slight irritation is that the recipes have a master page, and then the recipes for the individual parts of the dessert are 20-30 pages later at the end of the section, even whenthe subject is things like molded chocolates. There's a lot of page-turning involved!

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Ha, yeah no kidding everything is modern. I think everyone will hate me after I say this, ahem, but I got my book today and am returning it. It wasnt really what I was expecting, It was slightly too modern for me, and most of the plates were things that I would never attempt. I'm obviously rather picky about my books, and I cant have this large of a book on such modernist desserts, I know I'll seldom look through it. Sorry guys! I did like the 'Earth' entremet, that was amazing, very playful, but overall, not for me, I'm more into old school pastry.

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Recipes are in grams, ounces, and %. I love modern, too. I never bought any of the CIA's other pro pastry books, they always looked too old school, even 10 or 15 years ago when I started baking professionally. But this...these are the desserts I wish I'd thought of, that I wish I had the time and skill and equipment to make. I don't know how many I will make, but I will definitely use the visual inspiration as well as various elements and ideas. I could see how it is not for everyone, but as a jaded professional, I am so happy to see it.

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. . . . But this...these are the desserts I wish I'd thought of, that I wish I had the time and skill and equipment to make. I don't know how many I will make, but I will definitely use the visual inspiration as well as various elements and ideas. I could see how it is not for everyone, but as a jaded professional, I am so happy to see it.

This sounds extremely appealing, but how demanding is it, in terms of necessary equipment?

Approach- and aesthetics-wise this kind of sounds like a 'desserts, the missing manual' companion to Modernist Cuisine, but it would depressing if it turned out that making even the simplest recipes would require an outlay of hundreds of dollars (which I haven't got) for specialized equipment/tools.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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This sounds extremely appealing, but how demanding is it, in terms of necessary equipment?

Approach- and aesthetics-wise this kind of sounds like a 'desserts, the missing manual' companion to Modernist Cuisine, but it would depressing if it turned out that making even the simplest recipes would require an outlay of hundreds of dollars (which I haven't got) for specialized equipment/tools.

Tool-wise, many require nothing more than a paint/chocolate spray gun (okay, a LOT need a sprayer). Other than that, I think maybe three dishes use a Volcano Vaporizor, one or two a cream whipper/soda syphon, and in a couple of instances a thermomix or vacuum chamber/sealer is necessary. Other than that, it's more about building on classical techniques using surprising flavours, a few interesting gels (ie. some gellan, pectin, agar, a bit of spherification), and inspired execution.

To fully replicate everything as shown in the book would also require a lot of custom/home-made silicon molds, but then the composed dishes - stunning as they often are in their modernist way (Migoya is a master of visual minimalism and clever serving ideas, though there are also a couple of nods to Natura-style presentations) are as much there to show how building blocks can be put together and balanced, as well as to inspire. You can obviously make the bacon maple ice cream without necessarily molding it into the shape of a small pig and surrounding it with hay scent. :wink:

Arguably more important are the base recipes for the many components, and the sections discussing pastry terms, techniques and ingredients (including those hydrocolloids), and flavour/texture balancing.

I've only had it a couple of days, but really the only two issues with the book are that the title doesn't really let people know just how modern the content is - this very definitely isn't a trawl through the pastry classics. And that the 'show then tell' structure means there's a fair bit of back and forth with the pages in order to read through one complete dish. Other than that it really is quite astonishing, and gawd bless Amazon - astonishing value.

restaurant, private catering, consultancy
feast for the senses / blog

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And to supplement what Digijam said, I'd argue that, while undoubtedly nice, a Thermomix is not at all necessary. I don't have one. It's on the short list of "someday" but not in the budget at this time. I've done many recipes that call for one and never had a recipe fail from not using one.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ha, yeah no kidding everything is modern. I think everyone will hate me after I say this, ahem, but I got my book today and am returning it. It wasnt really what I was expecting, It was slightly too modern for me, and most of the plates were things that I would never attempt. I'm obviously rather picky about my books, and I cant have this large of a book on such modernist desserts, I know I'll seldom look through it. Sorry guys! I did like the 'Earth' entremet, that was amazing, very playful, but overall, not for me, I'm more into old school pastry.

Tee hee - that's precisely why I love it!
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I received the book yesterday. It looks great. The title is precise: the book is structured so that "elements" are provided: an inventory of techniques, of individual components, and then recipes are build combining them. Tables are provided so they can also be combined in different ways.

The book is "modern" in spirit, plating, composition... For example, colloids are used (agar, carrageenans, etc.) But, at a first glance, it seems technique is somehow traditional. For example, no sous-vide is used, though it is great for things like custards. As said above, not so many requirements toolwise.

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  • 4 months later...

Pear-Genoa Bread-Chocolate Veil.JPG

The more I read through this book the more I love it. It really provides a home cook like myself a fantastic insight into how the real modern pros do dessert. I tried one recipe from it so far but used many ideas and concepts. The one I did is this one the Caramelized Genoa Bread with poached Seckel Pears, Pear Ice Cream and a Chocolate Veil ( I did not do the triangular chocolate decoration for it though). The flavors are familiar and work perfectly together, but the presentation is modern and classy. I posted about it in a bit more detail on my blog. I'm also reading through Migoya's Frozen Desserts which is equally amazing IMHO.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Foodman, it looks amazing. I think you just inspired me to try it. So far, I have made the Maillard gateau which was amazing, and bits and pieces of other stuff.

An idea for caramel coating: I would apply the same (fiddly but uniform and safe) technique I have learnt from Quay (book) to encase meat. Make caramel, pour thin layer on silpat, put in food processor/ grinder and break to dust, then sieve dust over cut out forms (rectangular in this case) put into 180C oven for few minutes to melt, let cool, then place just on the top of cake pieces and put back in the oven to melt again. As the rectangle melts, it wilts and it falls neatly around meat, so should also around cake. I like to add some isomalt to original caramel, to make it dissolve less quickly. It also reduces sweetness, handy for meat.

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      This is the view out the back door of the kitchen. We look over the Kai-Tai Lagoon and the Olympic Mountains. Unfortunately you can't see the Olympics in this picture because it's cloudy. But man, on a clear day......it's outstanding. Off to the right, beyond the trellis thing, is a large garden full of culinary things....a la Chez Panisse. We've got rosemary, bay, basil, fennel, oregano, chervil,onions, squashes (in the fall), thyme, decorative flowers, arugula, and more. Whenever we need herbs....just go out back. We get most of our produce from local farmers who come to our back door. One of the things I LOVE about Tinytown. It really beats the in-city large mass produce vendors. As I look out the back door, I sip on a latte that I made myself from our aging and undependable espresso machine. Luckily, today, I managed to pull a pretty good shot. Ok, break time over! Back to work! My next step is to turn my pots over. I will turn the larger pot over first. I slip my offset spatula underneath the saran wrap and lift the cake off, and set it aside on the table. An important thing to note: If I'd used a mousse, curd, or jam filling, I wouldn't have been able to do this so easily. With a refrigerated buttercream filling, the cake doesn't flex at all as I lift it. I managed to nick a little of my polyfoil covering with my spat when I went to lift the cake. Nuts. Oh well, I'll cover that with a flower later. I melt some white chocolate and smear some in the center of my board. I need to anchor the bottom pot so it doesn't slip around.

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      Anyway, I insert the straw, mark it with my thumb where it's flush with the top of the cake, then pull the straw out and cut it. I use that straw as a measure to cut the rest of my straws. In this case I will use 5. One in the center and four around.

      Now I'm all ready to place the top pot on......oh, wait, except for a swirl of buttercream on top of the straws to anchor it a bit. Next, I use my melted white chocolate to adhere an appropriately sized round cardboard on the bottom of my top pot.

      Once that's set, I flip over the top pot, and place it on my bottom pot.

      Voila! Now, I really have to make sure that the top pot won't slide around, so I stick a few bamboo skewers down through the middle and through the cardboard til it hits the bottom board. I use the side of my needlenose pliers to pound the skewer down through. Now starts my very favorite part of this whole thing.....details! I figured that using my silicone lace impression molds will make great detailing on the pots. Here's the one I'm going to use to detail the bottom pot:

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      Then I brush a little water on the back of the piece, and adhere it to the pot. I keep making them until the pattern has gone all the way 'round.

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      And here are the pots with all their details.....

      These guys are going into the walk-in for a while while I work on the other details. Gotta make the baby! First I start with a styrofoam core. The reason for this is for stability and less weight. There was a time in my career when I thought I shouldn't use ANYTHING that wasn't edible, but talk about making life hard. I've made things out of solid modeling chocolate, but they were very heavy and hard to support. Then over the years, I realized that people really don't eat the decorations anyway (except for a few overzealous kids), so I decided to reduce my chocolate expenses and weight by using styrofoam to bulk things out more and more. I pat out a disk of flesh colored modeling chocolate, and place my styrofoam ball in the middle.

      Then I bring the edges up around the ball and squeeze the chocolate together so that no seams show. I stick a couple of skewers in it so that I can hold it in one hand and model it with the other. Then I manipulate it in my surgeon-scrubbed hands to model the face, add a little nose, eyes, mouth, ears, hair and of course, a dimple. The baby head needs to go somewhere while I work on other stuff.....oh, here's a good place.....right in the edge of my equipment box.

      I've been so good about taking pictures at nearly every step! But here's where I fail you.......when I get "in the zone"......meaning that I'm so intent on my little details....I sort of forget about the camera! Here's what I did in between this picture and the next two:
      *made the baby's shoulders and neck and arms out of modeling chocolate
      *sprinkled my cookie dirt inside the pots
      *dusted the centers of my flowers with luster and color, made the calyx's (sp?) and mounted *them on my green skewers
      *rolled modeling chocolate onto a skewer to form the umbrella stem
      *made the bottom banner and wrote on it
      *made the baby's flower bonnet
      I modeled the baby's neck and shoulders, then stuck that right on the top pot. Then I cut the skewers that are coming out of his head to the right length and pushed it down through the neck and shoulders.

      I placed the arms and formed the hands. I stuck my umbrella stem through the arm and down into the cake so there would be adequate support......but darn, I wasn't watching carefully, and the skewer came out of the side of the pot because my angle was a bit off. Oh well, I'll cover that up with a leaf. At least you can see where the umbrella stem is on the skewer. On top of the umbrella stem is a little half dome of modeling chocolate, to support the gumpaste umbrella. I dab a bit of melted white chocolate on that, and stick the umbrella on top. Now all I have to do is place my flowers, mount the banner, and put his little bonnet on.

      And here we have the finished product. It's sort of hard to read the banner....it says, "May Showers Bring Adorable Flowers". One thing I always seem to to do.....I'll shoot the picture of my finished cake and I'm always tired.....so I'm too lazy to find a good backdrop. Then I curse myself later when there's that yukky kitcheny background. God, in one picture I took, my cake had a dirty mop bucket behind it! All I can say is, thank god for Photoshop......I can always "fix" it later.
      It took me 8 hours to put this together and that's not counting all the prep I did the whole week prior. I don't think a whole lot of people realize the time that goes into this stuff.....and it's also why you don't see it very often.
      Anyway, the girl that's getting the baby shower has NO IDEA this is coming. Surprising her is going to be the best part!
      Fast forward to the next day. My boss's wife and I are bringing the box inside the house, then removing the cake from the box. Kids are dancing around us....."is that a CAKE? Is that a CAKE?" People gather round, and the girl who's getting the shower sees it and starts crying. She gives me a big hug and says "I don't know how to thank you!" I told her she just did.
      The shower went on, presents were opened, food was eaten, champagne was sipped.......and then.....it was time......the part that the kids almost couldn't wait for.....time to eat cake! Which of course, means, time to cut cake. And guess who gets to do it. Yep. Me. I don't have to cut my own cakes very often, and that's a good thing. Usually I'm nowhere in the vicinity when my cakes are cut and consumed.....I have only the memory of a photograph and my labor. This time I also do the deconstructing.....and I gotta say it was bittersweet. Especially since knowing it took me 8 hours to build it and only 15 minutes to take it apart. May I say.......wah? Yes. Wah. Luckily I'd had a couple glasses of Mumm's so my "pain" was numbed a bit.......
      Hope you all have enjoyed this bit of cake sculpting. Now back to our regular programming.......
    • By Porthos
      I picked up enough boneless short ribs to make 3 meals for my Sweetie and me. One meal will be pan-braised tonight. One has been vacuum-sealed and is in the freezer. My question is about seasoning, sealing, freezing, then defrosting and cooking at a later date. I'd like to season and seal the 3rd meal's worth. Can I use a dry rub on the meat, then seal, freeze, and cook at a later date? Does anyone else do this?
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