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The Elements of Dessert Hardcover – November 5, 2012

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Sample Recipes from The Elements of Dessert

Chocolate and Fruit Pops
Chocolate and Fruit Pops
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Peppermint Lozenges
Peppermint Lozenges
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Review

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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (November 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 047089198X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470891988
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 1.6 x 11.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,878 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Biography for Francisco J. Migoya

I am the owner and chocolatier at Hudson Chocolates (www.hudsonchocolates.com) and I am also a Professor at The Culinary Institute of America, in Hyde Park, New York, teaching the Cafe Operations class for the Baking and Pastry program. I am in charge of the Apple Pie Bakery and Cafe,, where students work in the different areas that compose a cafe: breakfast pastries and bread, pastry, savory, frozen desserts and chocolates and confections. I have worked at the CIA since April 2005, where I was named 2007 Faculty Member of the Year.
My previous job was Executive Pastry Chef for The French Laundry, Bouchon Bakery and Bouchon Bistro in Yountville, CA. All of these establishments are owned by Thomas Keller. The French Laundry is perhaps one of the best restaurants in the world, and I was fortunate enough to head the baking and pastry production for this establishment, as well as Bouchon Bakery and Bouchon Bistro simultaneously.
I have also worked at a number of upscale restaurants in New York City such as Veritas, Ilo and The River Cafe. At Veritas and The River Cafe I was the head pastry chef. At Ilo I was the pastry sous-chef. All of these establishments are held in high regard for the quality of food and service they offer.
As for my culinary training, I spent a year in France on a full scholarship at the Lycee d'Hotellerie et de Tourisme in Strasbourg. I further refined my education with The Culinary Institute of America's program in Mexico City, where I was born and raised. I not only studied during this time, I also worked for free wherever I could to get real world, hands-on experience.
Growing up in Mexico City, my experience with the culinary world began at a very young age. I am the son of an Italian-American mother and a Spanish father, and food proved to be an integral part of every day life. Although I had never considered the culinary field as a career until I was in my mid-teens, I found my interest in food to be a natural progression that ultimately developed into a passion and a successful career.
I am fluent in Spanish, English and French. I can read and understand Italian. This has enabled me to have access to culinary books that are only published in those languages, furthering my knowledge of food.

Having worked at The French Laundry was one of the most satisfying achievements of my career. Precision, consistency, knowledge, organization, cleanliness, and leadership were constantly put to the test. Thomas Keller wouldn't have it any other way, and neither would I. Day in and day out, it was these skills that kept my part of the kitchen running. The only way to stay on top was to master all the skills that I had honed throughout my education and career. The education process never stops. You need to keep up with new trends, techniques, products, notable pastry chefs, notable restaurants, awareness of the industry and technology
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Robert E. Connoley on December 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover
As a self-taught chef, I am constantly on the lookout for books that will expand my training. Traditionally, books published by culinary schools have been written to accompany classroom instruction making them poor tools for independent learners. Francisco Migoya of the Culinary Institute of America takes a different approach to his books and his latest is certainly a winner for serious students of pastry.

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.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By E. Nassar on March 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover
If you want to go beyond desserts targeted for the home cook like brownies, pies and cakes (not that there is anything wrong with those) this is the book to add to your collection. It is geared towards the professionals or the very ambitious and curious home cooks who want to know how the pros do it. Migoya gives us a fantastic insight into how the professionals think of, source, compose and create modern desserts. Even if we do not attempt any of the desserts from start to finish (I did try a couple already with great success), there is a lot to learn here about the restaurant pastry kitchen and the process of creating a proper dessert using multiple basic building blocks.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By cocinera on June 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is amazing. I bought it for myself and then bought another as a gift for my pastry instructor. It has really challenged me to go beyond the basics. The chef I bought the other copy for also thought it was a fantastic addition to his collection. I already tried one of the recipes and it turned out better than I expected. The only difficult part was having to go to different pages to get the full recipe. This is definitely not a book for beginners.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Deidre512 on July 13, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
You will want to put this cookbook on your coffee table to impress your foodie friends. The pictures are an incredible showcase of the modernist ingenuity of the recipes.

The layout of the book is very well thought out. You must be prepared to invest in ingredients and equipment to make the majority of the recipes in this book.

A suitable amount of background is recommended before attempting the recipes found later in the book and this background is provided in Chapter 1. Do not skip this chapter! The first chapter provides an extensive explanation of preparation and cooking methods (for example: tempering chocolate), an overview of flavor and texture profiles of ingredients, and even considerations in menu composition.

Subsequent chapters contain recipes and photographs grouped by the type of setting under which the dessert would be served (such as plated, in a buffet, cakes, etc.). The ingredient amounts in the recipes are weight based so at the very least you must have a kitchen scale.

In the end of the book is a list of on-line resources where unique ingredients or tools can be purchased which I found very helpful.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who has an appreciation of culinary artistry, and strongly recommend this book to chefs who enjoy modernist cooking.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J Gage on September 16, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book hoping to learn more about pastries and baking, especially after reading that this book was better than the CIA pastry book. I purchased it with high hopes, and while it is very pretty with all the pictures of the delicate deserts made by a master pastry chef, it wasn't really what I had hoped for. It does have some good information about the different icings and pastry creams, but it also gets into chocolates and some pretty high tech recipes that I don't think I would ever venture to try, especially trying to hunt down some of the ingredients.
Instead of a book I could hope to use to improve my baking skills, I feel that I bit off more than I can chew, and I am a pretty adventurous baker. I would recommend the Pastry Chef by Bo Friberg. This is a huge book, and while it doesn't offer as many color photos as the Elements of Dessert, it is an awesome reference book for some classic pastries, breads and cakes and cookies.
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