Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

A Modernist View of Plated Desserts (Grand Finales)

A Modernist View of Plated Desserts (Grand Finales)

by Tish Boyle

See All Formats & Editions

"Modernism is simply the result of the extremely progressive evolution of the American pastry industry. With the use of all ethnic influences, creative flavor combinations enhanced by incredibly visual designs is truly the global trend-setter for the millennium." Norman Love Corporate Pastry Chef, Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company Milk Chocolate-Ginger Mousse with Liquid


"Modernism is simply the result of the extremely progressive evolution of the American pastry industry. With the use of all ethnic influences, creative flavor combinations enhanced by incredibly visual designs is truly the global trend-setter for the millennium." Norman Love Corporate Pastry Chef, Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company Milk Chocolate-Ginger Mousse with Liquid Chocolate Center Norman Love Corporate Pastry Chef, Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Naples, Florida. Mont Blanc Michael Hu Executive Pastry Chef, Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York Midnight Macadamia Torte Kim O'Flaherty Pastry Cook, Essex House Hotel, New York. Chocolate and Pear Mousse Ensemble Eric Perez Executive Pastry Chef, Ritz-Carlton Tyson's Corners, Virginia. Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding with Specky Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel Marshall Rosenthal Executive Pastry Chef, Trump Taj Mahal Hotel and Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey Butter Pecan Custard Cake Wayne Brachman Executive Pastry Chef, Mesa Grill and Bolo, both in New York.

Editorial Reviews

National Culinary Review
In their new book, GRAND FINALES: A MODERNIST VIEW OF PLATED DESSERTS, authors Tish Boyle and Timothy Moriarty challenged 25 of the country's most talented pastry chefs to create 'Modernist' desserts as defined in the book. --The National Culinary Review

Product Details

Publication date:
Product dimensions:
9.00(w) x 11.20(h) x 0.82(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Norman Brosterman, a New York City architect, managed to annoy a number of people with his 1997 book, Inventing Kindergarten. In it, he proposed that the forms, shapes, and symbols commonly found in the works of modern artists (The Modernists--Mondrían, Picasso, O'Keeffe, et al.), were probably inspired by the constructions formed with blocks and Tinkertoy-style components that were standard issue to kindergartners of the nineteenth century.

That theory outraged a number of art critics and historians, but it is bound to have appeal to pastry chefs, who work in a field where a serious attitude toward a frivolous product is de rigueur.

In this chapter we present pure examples of what we call Modernist desserts--pure in the sense that the main component, the garnishes, and the sauces are in balance, and all contribute to the Modernist presentation.

A Modernist dessert is one which is composed of forms that do not represent anything out-side themselves--that is, they do not compose an architectural construction or conjure a poetic image or mimic a known object unless there is a deliberate effort to undermine or subtly satirize the object or image. The forms are, in most cases, completely abstract, either geometric or inorganic in inspiration. Classic recipes can be, and frequently are, the heart of Modernist desserts, but the presentation is emphatically nontraditional, as you will see in Chapter 3. Surfaces are generally sleek. The forms are clean and finished, but some loose platings are seen. If literal images are included, they are not reinforced elsewhere to create a theme. If a recognizable object is employed, it is generally for the purpose of satire, camp, or to undermine itself or to call attention to the fact that this is dessert, this is food. What Modernist desserts give diners is the anticipation, a moment to admire something that they have never seen before. Desserts that look like dessert, and even desserts that look like sombreros or musical instruments, do not delight in quite this way. Although we use the term "Modernism" only as a frame of reference when describing the works of contemporary pastry chefs, it might be useful to review Modernism to see if any valid analogies can be made.

The history of painting in the last 120 years is a tale of rebellion toppling rebellion. The Impressionists and Post-Impressionists rebelled against the tyranny of color, materials, and subject matter imposed by the Salon establishment in France. They succeeded in time, but subject matter continued to be a matter of doctrine--only certain subjects were fit to be painted, and any distortion of the out-ward appearance of an object was still considered to be a violation of Truth.

The turn-of-the-century Modernists were continuing the rebellion of color and materials begun by the Impressionists and continued by the Post-Impressionists; but subject matter continued to be a matter of tyranny, and Modernists strived against it. Cezanne was among the first to dethrone the representational nature of Impressionist works. Then came a flood of artists and splintering labels. In America, the Modernist movement in painting began to establish itself roughly around 1910; among those identified with the movement are Arthur G. Dove, Max Weber, and Georgia O'Keeffe.

The Modernist sensibility, in general, called into question two of the assumptions of the hundreds of years of realistic painting, and even the works of the Impressionists--that one should look to nature as the model for a subject and technique in painting, and that art should be "finished," refined, a display of technical virtuosity. Modernists strived to do away with what people traditionally looked for in a painting--technical polish, sentiment, resemblance, charm. They aspired to reach to the very soul of art--it should not serve a moralistic point of view; it should not pique memories or intimate desires.

To that end, Modernists replaced literal colors with colors that reveal states of feeling; fragmented objects, arranged objects, or parts of objects in overlapping or kaleidoscopic form to convey, in a nonrepresentational way, a sense of motion; presented shapes and colors that bore no resemblance to anything in the world the eye recognized; presented illogical groupings of objects; maintained that much of the pleasure of a work of art is found in the materials themselves and the way the artist handles the materials. Modernists believed that art should not be concerned with surface aspects of life, but rather states of feeling, with expression rather than representation. It sprang from the intensity of modern, industrial life rather than the perceived leisurely existence of the agricultural life of yore.

In the next chapter, we will deal with criticisms of Modernism; they have resonance for the chef who is determined to break all the rules, create something all new, smash the classics.

The chefs who contributed recipes to this book have created some most unusual and highly edible forms--Thaddeus Dubois's Vanilla Salad, a crazy jumble of a pastalike cookie; the cones presented by Norman Love and Donald Wressell, both defying physics and diner expectation-- Wressell's crowned with a gracefully warped cookie ring, Love's by an Art Deco complex of chocolate lines. Jacquy Pfeiffer's wheel surrounding his Chocolate Ice Cream Dome has the harsh teeth of an industrial gearpiece and the most luxuriant, swanlike spokes imaginable, in one form.

There is beauty in these compositions--Thaddeus Dubois's riotous Salad, anarchic but drawing the eye firmly to the sphere; Martin Howard's Hot Lips, pouting prettily amid the flames of chocolate and sauce; the lithe spiral surrounding Jacquy Pfeiffer's Ice Cream Dome; the cones of Wressell and Love; Krista Kern's circuslike, delirious Fool.

Our Modernist chefs have attitude in abundance. Martin Howard's Hot Lips is an image so bizarre it makes you smile, while Top of the World seems to call attention to its own blissful dessert experience. Also calling attention to the dessert medium is Eric Perez's Soda, which is like a self-conscious comment on the dessert experience, especially that old soda fountain kind. Richard Ruskell's MOMA is an unabashed celebration of Modernism and is the only unironic entry in the book. Pastillage is uncharacteristic of contemporary American chefs and Ruskell's work in particular; in that sense, it is such a rule-breaker that it has to be included here.

Ruskell, in particular, is known for the rich, complex flavors of the desserts he serves at the Phoenician. He has won many a competition partially on the basis of his flavors. "I did some outrageous things for this book," he admits, "but I did them because I don't normally do them. My sense of Modernism, or at least my hope, is that it represents a return to desserts that taste good."


"I was trying to do something classic--chocolate and raspberry, which we know go well together--with some crunch and smooth elements," says En-Ming Hsu. The chocolate cream that encases the sablée and raspberries is not quite a mousse and not quite a ganache--based on an anglaise, it has a very silky, custard-like texture. Chocolate apricot glaze covers all, and the raspberries used as garnish are filled with mascarpone.


Special Equipment:
Twelve ring molds, 2.3" (6 cm) diameter x 1.6" (4 cm) high
Two 9" (22.8 cm) cake rings

VANILLA SABLÉE 2.2 oz 65 g unsalted butter
  1.1 oz 30 g confectioners' sugar
  2 2 large egg yolks, hard boiled
  1 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  3 oz 85 g cake flour
  1/8 tsp .5 g baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 325°F (165°C). In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar untl light and fluffy. Pass the egg yolks through a tamis and add it to the butter along with the vanilla bean seeds. Sift together the flour and baking powder and add it to the mixture. Mix just until incorporated. Form the dough into a disc, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate overnight.

2. On a lightly floured surface roll the dough to a 1/8" (3 mm) thickness. Dock and cut the dough into 2" (5 cm) rounds. Place on a parchment-lined sheet pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until pale golden in color. Cool completely.


14 liq oz 400 ml heavy cream
  14 liq oz 400 ml whole milk
  5.3 oz 150 g granulated sugar, divided
  4.6 oz 130 g egg yolks
  19.8 oz 560 g Valrhona Pure Caraibe chocolate, chopped

1. In a saucepan combine the cream, milk, and 2.7 oz (75 g) of the sugar and bring to a boil. Whisk together the egg yolks with the remaining 2.7 oz (75 g) of the sugar. Temper the yolks into the milk mixture and cook gently, stirring, until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon.

2. Strain the cream into a bowl containing the chopped chocolate. Whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and incorporated with the cream. Cover the surface with plastic wrap and chill until it is firm enough to pipe.

CHOCOLATE SOUFFLÉ BISCUIT 3.5 oz 100 g Valrhona Pure Caraibe chocolate
  .9 oz 25 g cocoa paste
  6.3 oz 180 g egg yolks
  5.5 oz 155 g granulated sugar, divided
  8 oz 225 g egg whites

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Melt the chocolate and cocoa paste together over a double boiler. Keep the melted chocolate in a warm spot to hold it at about 110°F (43°C).

2. In a mixer, whip the egg yolks with 2 oz (55 g) of the sugar until very light and pale. Whip the egg whites with the remaining 3.5 oz (100 g) of sugar to a stiff meringue. Fold the melted chocolate into the yolks, then fold in the meringue. Evenly divide the batter into two 9" (22.8 cm) cake rings on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely and freeze until firm enough to cut.

MIRROR GLAZE 13.5 liq oz 400 ml heavy cream
  16.2 oz  460 g Valrhona Pur Caraibe chocolate, chopped
  1.6 oz 45 g unsalted butter, softened
  3.2 oz 90 g corn syrup

1. In a saucepan bring the cream to a boil and pour it into a bowl containing the chocolate. Whisk until the chocolate is thoroughly dissolved and let it cool to room temperature.

2. Whisk in the butter and corn syrup until fully incorporated.

RASPBERRY FILLING 1 pt 1 pt fresh raspberries
  1 liq oz 30 ml raspberry purée, 10% sugar
  1 liq oz 30 ml simple syrup
      Lemon juice to taste

Combine all the ingredients, tossing gently, so as not to damage the raspberries. Add a few drops of lemon juice if desired.

RASPBERRY COULIS 8 oz 227 g fresh ripe raspberries
  1 oz 28 g granulated sugar
  2 oz 57 g dextrose

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and purée. Pass the mixture through a chinois.

ASSEMBLY Fresh raspberries
  >Bubble sugar
  >Pulled-sugar rods

1. Place the ring molds on a plastic- or parchment-lined sheet pan. Pipe in a layer of chocolate cream until the molds are half full. Place a small amount of the raspberry filling (about 6 raspberries) in the center and press gently into the cream. Cut the biscuit into 1.75" (4.5 cm) rounds and place a circle on top of the berries. Pipe chocolate cream around the biscuit to fill in the sides. Press a sablée round on top. Clean the edges of the mold and freeze until firm, at least 45 minutes.

2. Unmold the cakes by warming the sides with your hands or a warm damp towel and pushing on the sablée. Place the cakes with the sablée on the bottom on a dipping screen on top of a sheet pan. Refrigerate.>

3. Heat the mirror glaze over a double boiler until it reaches a pourable consistency. Pour the glaze over the cakes. Refrigerate until set.

4. Place each cake on a dessert plate and garnish the plate with a mascarpone-filled raspberry, bubble sugar, and a pulled-sugar rod. Serve with raspberry coulis on the side.


"Everything stems from classic recipes," observes Richard Leach. "There's a classic raspberry tart in there, but we've presented it in a different form, that's all." Composed of ricotta cheese, flour, and egg whites, the pudding is a cross between a classic pudding and a bread pudding. Crowning it is the tart, showing through like the hidden image in a Magic Eye 3-D painting. "I chose the components I wanted on the plate, and we just pieced it together," Leach adds. "The sauce is light because the ice cream is heavy, but then the dessert is swimming in sauce. I like it that way." YIELD: 10 SERVINGS
Special Equipment:
1" (2.5 cm) PVC tube
Ten 3 oz (89 ml) ramekins
Cut-off whisk and 2 dowels for spinning sugar

TART DOUGH 4.5 oz 128 g unsalted butter, softened
  2 oz 57 g confectioners' sugar
  1.75 oz 50 g whole eggs
  2 oz 57 g almond flour
  7.5 oz 213 g all-purpose flour

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper.

2. In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and confectioners' sugar. Add the eggs and mix until incorporated.

3. On low speed, add the almond and all-purpose flours to the creamed mixture and mix until combined.

4. Shape the dough into a disc and refrigerate for 1 hour.

5. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll out to 1/8" (.32 cm) thickness. Using a 3" (7.6 cm) round cutter, cut out 10 rounds of dough and place them on the prepared pan.

6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on a rack.

CRÈME FRÂICHE FILLING 8 oz 227 g crème frâiche
  1 Tbs 14 g granulated sugar

Whip the crème frâiche with the sugar to stiff peaks. Refrigerate until neded.

WARM RASPBERRY PUDDING 6 oz 170 g whole milk ricotta cheese
  4 oz 113 g granulated sugar, divided
  1.5 oz 43 g egg yolks
  1 oz 28 g all-purpose flour
  6 oz 170 g egg whites
  5 oz 142 g fresh raspberries

1. Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C).

2. In a bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, 2 oz (57 g) of the sugar, and the egg yolks. Whisk in the flour to make a smooth paste.

3. In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and sugar to soft peaks.

4. Fold the meringue into the cheese mixture. Fold in the raspberries.

5. Fill the buttered ramekins with the raspberry-cheese mixture to two-thirds full. Bake in a water bath for 25 to 30 minutes, until the pudding is set and golden brown.

RASPBERRY SORBET 18 oz 510 g fresh raspberries
  4 liq oz 118 ml water
  13 liq oz 384 ml simple syrup

1. Purée the raspberries with the water in a food processor. Strain the mixture through a chinois to extract the seeds. Combine the raspberry purée with the simple syrup and chill.

2. Process in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions.

SOUR CREAM ICE CREAM 16 liq oz 473 ml half-and-half
  6 oz 170 g granulated sugar
  4 oz 113 g egg yolks
  1 lb 454 g sour cream

1. In a large saucepan, combine the half-and-half and sugar, and bring to a boil.

2. In a bowl, temper the yolks with hot cream mixture. Return the mixture to the saucepan and whisk in the sour cream. Strain the mixture through a chinois and cool in ice bath. Chill.

3. Process in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions.

ALMOND CAKE 7 oz 198 g almond paste
  7 oz 198 g sugar
  7 oz 198 g butter, softened
  7 oz 198 g eggs
  3 oz 85 g cake flour

1. Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C). Line 2 half-sheet pans with buttered parchment paper.

2. In a mixer with a paddle attachment, combine the almond paste, sugar, and butter; beat until creamy. Add the eggs and beat until blended.

3. On low speed, add the cake flour and mix to combine.

4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and bake until set, about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pans.


1. Have ready two 7 x 3 1/2 x 2 1/2" (17.8 x 8.9 x 6.4 cm) terrine molds or loaf pans.

2. Measure and cut the almond cake to line the inside of the terrine molds. Fill the lined molds with the sour cream ice cream. Top each mold with a strip of almond cake. Freeze overnight.

RASPBERRY SAUCE 24 oz 680 g fresh raspberries
  8 oz 227 g granulated sugar
  4 liq oz 118 ml water
  2 Tbs 30 ml lemon juice

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the raspberries, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until thickened.

2. Strain through a chinois to extract the seeds. Stir in the lemon juice. Chill.

VANILLA SABAYON SAUCE 4 oz 113 g egg yolks
  4 oz 113 g granulated sugar
  1 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  8 liq oz 237 ml heavy cream
  8 oz 227 g crème frâiche

1. Combine the yolks, sugar, and vanilla bean in a double boiler and whisk until pale and thick, about 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat. Cool.

2. In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip together the cream and crème frâiche until soft peaks form. Fold into the yolk mixture. Strain through a chinois, discarding the vanilla bean. Place the sauce in a squeeze bottle and chill.

SPUN SUGAR CYLINDERS 14 oz 397 g granulated sugar
  8 liq oz 237 ml water
  2 oz 57 g glucose

1. Place the sugar and water in a heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved. Add the glucose, stirring until it is combined with the syrup.

2. Increase the heat and bring the syrup to a boil, washing down the sides of the pan with a brush dipped in water occasionally. Bring the syrup to 310°F (154°C). Immediately remove the pan from the heat and plunge the bottom of the pan in cold water to stop the cooking process. Remove the pan from the water and allow the syrup to stand for a few minutes to thicken slightly.

3. Arrange 2 dowels over the edge of a table. Dip a cut-off whisk in the sugar and flick it back and forth over the dowels in a rapid motion to create the spun sugar. When enough of the sugar has formed, immediately wrap it around a 1" (2.5 cm) PVC tube to form a spun-sugar cylinder (see photo to the left). Repeat to form a total of 10 cylinders.

FINAL ASSEMBLY 26 oz/737 g fresh raspberries
  Mint leaves
  Pulled-sugar sticks

1. Pool the rasberry sauce on a dessert plate. Squeeze a few dots of the sabayon sauce onto the plate.

2. Spread a thin layer of crème frâiche filling on the tart shell. Cover the filling with rasberries and drizzle with honey.

3. Place 1" (2.5 cm) thick slice of sour creme terrine on one side of the plate. Top with a spun-sugar cylinder. Fill the cylinder with rasberries.

4. Unmold a warm pudding onto the other side of the plate. Place a rasberry tart on top of the pudding and top with a small scoop of rasberry sorbet. Place a sprig of mint next to the sorbet.

5. Garnish the plate with pulled-sugar sticks, rasberries, and mint leaves.

Meet the Author

Timothy Moriarty is the features editor of Chocolatier and Pastry Art & Design magazines. He is the co-author of Grand Finales: The Art of The Plated Dessert, and the author of several works of fiction. He lives in Westchester County, New York with his wife and two children. Tish Boyle is food editor of Chocolatier and Pastry Art & Design magazines. A graduate of Smith College and La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine in Paris, Tish has had such varied occupations as truck dispatcher, caterer, pastry chef, and food stylist. Passionate about desserts, Tish is the co-author of Grand Finales: The Art of The Plated Dessert. She lives in Brooklyn Heights with her husband, Dick Eggleston. Michael Schneider is the founder, editor-in-chief and publisher of both Chocolatier and Pastry Art & Design magazines, as well as the creator of the Grand Finales series. An acknowledged expert on chocolate and desserts, he has appeared on many radio and television shows and has been a guest lecturer at New York University and The Smithsonian Institution. He is also on the Board of Directors of the United States Pastry Alliance. Michael and his wife live in Greenwich Village, New York. John Uher has been a food photographer in New York City for the past 12 years. His photographs appear regularly in Woman's Day, Vegetarian Times, and Yankee Magazine, as well as Chocolatier and Pastry Art & Design magazines. He is also currently working on a new book by Jacques Torres, based on Jacques's upcoming PBS series. John lives with his wife and four children in Freeport, Long Island.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews