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Dessert FourPlay: Sweet Quartets from a Four-Star Pastry Chef Hardcover – December 30, 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“The first time I tasted Johnny’s creations, the profusion of delicious flavors in familiar and unfamiliar forms was like nothing I'd ever experienced in a dessert course. In this long-awaited book, Johnny shares the thinking, the cutting-edge techniques, and the flexible recipes that make his approach to the end of the meal so fresh and engaging.”
—Harold McGee, author of On Food and Cooking

Dessert FourPlay is as exciting as it is appealing, instructive, and generous. Each dessert is a tour de force of imagination and I’m crazy about the section called Building Blocks, which has dozens of simple recipes for ice cream, cookies, cakes, and sauces to mix-and-match.”
—Dorie Greenspan, author of Baking from My Home to Yours

“Johnny Iuzzini is one of the most talented pastry chefs in America. He is experimental and creative, but his originality and wit are carefully balanced by his classic pastry training. Johnny’s first book, Dessert FourPlay, will be a great inspiration for anyone who has a love of sweets.”
—Daniel Boulud, chef/restaurateur

“From the first day I met him, I knew that Johnny would make a significant contribution to the pastry world. In Dessert FourPlay, you can sample some of his four-star desserts and feel like a rockstar while making them. Johnny's playfulness and desire to push limits in the kitchen are an inspiration to anyone who loves to create.”
—François Payard, chef/owner of Payard Pâtisserie & Bistro and author of Chocolate Epiphany

“Johnny Iuzzini is a serious sugar freak and his enthusiasm comes through on every page. Here’s a guy who can whip up any classic dessert and also show you a cutting-edge technique for making flourless doughnuts. Johnny has always stayed ahead of the curve, and this book proves it.”
—Wylie Dufresne, chef/owner of WD-50

“Y'all, every recipe in this book is deliciously decadent. I just love a man who knows his way around some chocolate!”
—Paula Deen, Food Network host and bestselling cookbook author

“Johnny’s desserts are a mix of tradition, science, humor, and art that are beautifully balanced in his quartets. Be prepared for your senses to explode; expect nothing less.”
—Jean Georges Vongerichten, chef/restaurateur

“Dessert FourPlay is a blockbuster cookbook bursting with mouthwatering recipes, innovative ideas, and breathtaking photos. Many recipes have ‘Make it Simpler’ suggestions that enable the home cook to prepare four-star desserts like a pro. A stunning edition.”
—Carole Walter, author of Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More

“With this impressive collection of seasonal recipes, Johnny Iuzzini reveals his versatility not only with classic techniques, but also with contemporary ideas. He is truly among the country's premier pastry chefs.”
—Eric Ripert, chef/co-owner of Le Bernardin

About the Author

JOHNNY IUZZINI, executive pastry chef of the world-renowned Jean Georges restaurant in New York City, won the award for Outstanding Pastry Chef from the James Beard Foundation in 2006. This is his first book.

ROY FINAMORE, a publishing veteran of more than thirty years, has worked with many bestselling cookbook authors. He is the author of three books: One Potato, Two Potato; Tasty, which won a James Beard Foundation award; and Fish Without a Doubt.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter (December 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307351378
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307351371
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 1 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #120,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chef Johnny Iuzzini's interest in the pastry arts began at age seventeen when he started working at The River Café in Brooklyn, New York. Although his primary responsibility at the restaurant was in garde-manger, Johnny frequently visited the pastry kitchen to marvel as Pastry Chef Eric Gouteyron piped chocolate butterflies. As Johnny's fascination with pastry grew, he began assisting Chef Eric after completing his regular shifts in the kitchen. He learned the techniques of tempering chocolate from Eric, who went on to become the Executive Pastry Chef of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. Johnny eventually moved to pastry full-time, cementing his desire to pursue a career as a pastry chef.
After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, Johnny joined the pastry department of the original Daniel on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Over the next three and a half years, he mastered all of the dessert stations and became Pastry Chef François Payard's right-hand man. When Chef Francois launched his eponymous pastry shop in the Summer of 1997, Johnny joined the opening team and was named Sous Chef, a position he held for six months.
As a student of his craft, Johnny traveled to Europe in 1998 where he apprenticed in some of France's finest pâtisseries, including the famed Ladurée in Paris. He also completed an intensive two-week chocolate course at L'Ecole DGF du Chocolat et Patisserie.
In the Fall of 1998, Johnny returned to the US for the debut of Café Boulud and then moved to the 65th Street location of the new Daniel for its opening. Johnny was named Executive Sous Chef for the new restaurant and held that position for the next two years under Executive Pastry Chef Thomas Haas. During that time, Comité Colbert named Johnny one of its "Emerging Young Artists of 2000".
Chef Daniel Boulud promoted Johnny to Executive Pastry Chef in January 2001. The combination of talent and enthusiasm, and a long-standing working relationship with Daniel made Johnny the perfect choice for this position. Shortly after his rise to top job, Where Magazine awarded Johnny's desserts "Best in NY 2001".
In May 2002, Chef/ Owner Jean Georges Vongerichten named Johnny the Executive Pastry Chef at his famed four star name-sake, Restaurant Jean Georges, as well as its café, Nougatine. With this move, Johnny achieved much success. In November 2002, Johnny was awarded the title of "Best New Pastry Chef" by New York Magazine's Gael Green in its First Annual Chef Awards. In April 2003, Johnny was nominated for "Outstanding Pastry Chef of the Year" by the prestigious James Beard Foundation. In June of that year, Johnny was named one of the "10 Best Pastry Chefs in America" by Pastry Art and Design Magazine. He received the same honor in 2004, as well.
Johnny joined Jean Georges in the opening of his newest restaurant, Perry Street, in June 2005. Johnny assumed the role of Executive Pastry Chef for this restaurant in addition to his responsibilities at Restaurant Jean Georges and Nougatine. Perry Street earned three stars from the New York Times.
During that same year, Restaurant Jean Georges earned its most prestigious award to date, three Michelin stars. It was one of only four restaurants in New York City to receive this honor. It continues to maintain this honor today.
In May 2006, The James Beard Foundation awarded Johnny "Outstanding Pastry Chef of the Year".
In March 2007, Forbes.com identified Johnny as one of the 10 most influential chefs working in America today. Of the 12.8 million restaurant and food service outlet employees, these 10 were arguably doing the most to tease, surprise and gratify our national appetite.
Johnny's highly anticipated first cookbook, Dessert Fourplay: Sweet Quartets From A Four-Star Pastry Chef, was published December 30, 2008. This book enables trained chefs and home cooks alike to explore Johnny's use of single ingredients as primary inspiration for the dessert quartets featured on his seasonal menus at Jean Georges. Through beautiful photography and easy-to-follow recipes, he allows the reader to re-create each dessert with special attention to flavor, texture, and temperature.
Johnny has appeared in numerous TV segments for The Food Network, Martha Stewart, Top Chef, Today in NY, Paula's Party, Today Show, Good Morning America, The Tony Danza Show and Iron Chef America. Iuzzini was the head judge of Bravo's culinary competition series "Top Chef Just Desserts". His talent and charisma make his personal appearances and pastry demonstrations a must-see by food fans across the country.

Since leaving Restaurant Jean Georges, Chef Iuzzini has started his own pastry consulting company, aptly named Sugar Fueled Inc. He is the author of DESSERT FOURPLAY: Sweet Quartets From A Four-Star Pastry Chef (Clarkson Potter) and his second book SUGAR RUSH launched September 2014.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I am an experienced home baker who loves pushing the envelope and trying out new, complicated recipes. In my opinion, that is the type of baker who will enjoy this book the most.

I've made a couple things out of the book, and I've had no problem with the directions. While the recipes often call for ingredients that may not be available in smaller markets, those ingredients, with few exceptions, are not "weird." By that I mean that the overwhelming majority of Iuzzini's recipes do not fall into the realm of molecular gastronomy, thereby requiring foaming dispensers and other chemical agents. A small number of them do, but most do not, which is something that I appreciate because I'm cooking for a small family, and not a restaurant. One of the problems I've had with a few other "chef" books is that you really need to invest a tidy sum of money in chemical agents to make full use of the recipes in those books, and professional pastry books produce HUGE quantities of desserts, requiring you to do a lot of math to scale things down. Iuzzini's book does not suffer from either of those problems.

Each major dessert is comprised of 4 mini dessert portions - you can either make one of them, or using the book as a guide, prepare all 4. The instructions are very clear and include both metric and standard US measurements, although he highly recommends that you invest in a scale. The author gives oven temperatures for both a standard oven and a convection oven. When he calls for chocolate, he notes his preference in detail, for example, he doesn't just say 40% cacao, he will say "preferably Valrhona Jivara 40% cacao." There are some recipes that fall into the realm of "molecular gastronomy," but those are only a small percentage of the book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a great read with some very compelling ideas and wonderful suggestions. I have made three of the deserts so far and they were all successful. Note I did not say yummy some of the stuff in this book is about experience of flavor over tradition concepts of flavor. Expect new ideas that take some time to adjust to. If you enjoy experimentation and finding new ways to make old desserts this is a great book. Also if you want to start with molecular gastronomy this may be the least intimidating book to test the waters with. Overall this is a pure adventure if taste and texture with a lot of whimsy.
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Format: Hardcover
When I first saw Johnny's cookbook Dessert FourPlay Sweet Quartets from a Four-Star Pastry Chef ($35.00 Clarkson Potter) I figured I had a winner of a book, but not a cookbook - just a "lookbook".

Several weeks later, FourPlay, is still on my kitchen table - not covered in a film of dust as I might have expected, but doused in sugar, caramel and tuile batter. FourPlay turns out to be quite a clever book; it's a book that you can actually use...

Let's start back at the beginning.
Johnny Iuzzini is the Executive pastry Chef of the three-starred Michelin Restaurant Jean Georges in New York. At Jean Georges, Johnny's desserts arrive as four mini tasters served together. These creations may be inspired by a single ingredient or by the season, each a collection of delicious tastes, textures and techniques.

His desserts in FourPlay follow the same methodology as those at Jean Georges, so, when you look at the pictures in the book you might think that you are set for a visual feast and nothing more. But when you look a little deeper, the chef has written a book that puts the creative ball in the reader's court. It's a book of options.

You can choose to recreate one of the many quartets such as the Strawberry FourPlay; Strawberry Soda, Strawberry Ice Cream with Strawberry-Lavender Leather, Strawberry Shortcake with Roasted Strawberries & Strawberry Gelée, Coconut Cream & Crispy Chocolate or follow a simpler route and be inspired by one these components each of which shape up to be a great standalone dish.

I have used several of the recipes in the book over the past few weeks each of which have been accurate, well written and tasty.

Johnny Iuzzini has published a unique cookbook, one that serves up a magnificent concoction of style and substance - what appears to be a "lookbook" is, actually a cookbook!
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Format: Hardcover
The title of my review really says it all. Iuzzini showcases his awesome skill in this book, and the excellent photography backs it up. I just wish he had found a different way to make the chocolate spaetzle, because honestly, it looks like fat, black crispy chow mein noodles, and I think that visual should be enough for you.

He has tons of exceptional ideas, and executes them with the skill of a true master. Everything looks and sounds delicious, and each recipe is unique. I only wish I had thought of them myself!

It should be noted, however, that the recipes in this book are not for someone who is looking to cook for the first time. Some of the techniques are advanced, use ingredients that you certainly aren't going to find in your local grocery store, and several recipes have multiple parts gone over elsewhere in the book. Luckily for the layman, he offers several simple replacements for a good number of ingredients in several of the recipes.

If none of that phases you, then get this book. You will not regret it.
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