Dessert FourPlay: Sweet Quartets from a Four-Star Pastry Chef

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Consider the strawberry: its familiar flavor and texture; its fresh, sweet smell. Now imagine the same fruit distilled and carbonated for a refreshing soda, slow-roasted for a reinvented strawberry shortcake, made into a creamy strawberry ice cream and a chewy strawberry leather, and combined with coconut cream and crisp chocolate pastry. Alone, each dessert is a taste of paradise, but together this “fourplay,” or tasting, created by Johnny Iuzzini, superstar pastry chef of the celebrated four-star restaurant Jean Georges in New York, is a sophisticated explosion of a familiar flavor that begins with the taste of strawberry rich on your tongue and ends with an effervescent tingle in your nose.

Far from the conventional slice of cake at the end of a meal, Johnny’s seasonal creations—four mini desserts in a quartet of complementary flavors and textures—are a culinary adventure. In Dessert FourPlay, he shares his secrets and inspirations, delivering standout recipes for incredible desserts that can be served alone or combined into his signature fourplay groupings, creating the perfect sweet finale for any meal.

With the home cook in mind, Johnny offers tips on simplifying professional recipes and provides basic recipes for transcendent cakes, cookies, tuiles, ice creams, sorbets, granités, and more. These building blocks can be used to create magnificent multifaceted desserts, or they can be perfect desserts by themselves. Some recipes have surprising versatility: the shiny smooth chocolate glaze Johnny uses to ice cakes doubles as the ultimate hot fudge sauce; a lemony madeleine batter becomes a layer in a cake.

Iuzzini pairs cool with hot, crispy with creamy, sweet with spicy, and the expected—chocolate, strawberries, and cinnamon—with the unexpected—chiles, beets, and chocolatey puffs. The result: desserts that refresh, inspire, and satisfy beyond expectations. Dessert FourPlay invigorates all the senses and inspires home cooks to create innovative desserts of their own.

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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.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Johnny Iuzzini’s Chocolate Soup
Serves 8 on its own or 16 as part of a FourPlay

When I was growing up, chocolate milk was a treat, and the chocolate milk that ended up in a bowl of Cocoa Puffs when I had those for breakfast was the biggest treat of all. This soup is chocolate milk made cool and grown up, with quality ingredients and a contrast of textures. It reminds me of home.

For the Cocoa Puffs:

   • 8 ounces (250 g) milk chocolate (preferably Valrhona Jivara 40% cacao), chopped
   • 1 cup (7 g) Cocoa Puffs


Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl in the microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring between each burst, or melt in a double boiler. Roll the Cocoa Puffs in the chocolate, coating them completely. Lift them out with a fork, letting the excess chocolate drip off, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet to set. Store in a cool place.

For the Chocolate Soup (makes about 4 1/2 cups):

   • 4 cups (960 g) milk
   • 4 teaspoons (7 g) juniper berries, crushed in a mortar or coarsely ground in a spice grinder
   • 9 ounces (150 g) bittersweet chocolate (preferably Valrhona Araguani 72% cacao), finely chopped


Put 1 cup of the milk in a small saucepan with the juniper berries. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and let the juniper infuse for 25 minutes. Have the chopped chocolate ready in a heatproof bowl, and, remember, the finer you’ve chopped the chocolate, the better.

Bring the milk back to a boil, then strain into a measuring cup. Add some of the remaining 3 cups milk, if needed, to make 1 cup. Pour the hot milk over the chocolate, let it sit for a moment, then whisk to melt the chocolate and make an emulsion.

Pour in the rest of the cold milk, and froth the soup with an immersion blender. Transfer to a pitcher and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.

For the Devon Foam:

   • 2/3 cup heavy cream
   • 1/2 cup Devon cream (available at gourmet markets and specialty stores)
   • 1/2 cup milk, plus additional if needed


Whisk the heavy cream and Devon cream together in a bowl until thick. Whisk in the milk, then froth with an immersion blender (add additional milk if you need to). Transfer to a pitcher and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.

To Serve:

Thin the chocolate soup with some cold milk if it’s too thick to sip, and froth it again with an immersion blender.

Divide the soup among sixteen small glasses (for tasting portions) or among eight coffee cups. Drop in a few of the Cocoa Puffs, then spoon on a layer of the Devon foam. Top with a few more Cocoa Puffs.

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