Book Review: Frozen Desserts

Unlike many dessert cookbooks, Frozen Desserts moves beyond sharing recipes and focuses on the principles and techniques of producing high-quality desserts. Written by Francisco J. Migoya, a former Executive Pastry Chef at French Laundry and Lecturing Instructor at The Culinary Institute of America, the book is authoritative and provides all the information needed by a pastry chef. This book isn’t a casual read but instead an educate-yourself-at-home guide to making delicious frozen desserts.

While the book is targeted to professionals who need to reliably produce frozen desserts in small batches, it moves beyond this aim by providing everyone with information on how to approach each type of frozen dessert along with charts showing recommended ratios of ingredients (i.e. the ratio of fats to solids in an ice-cream base). This instruction allows you understand the differences from one frozen dessert to the next (i.e. how is sherbet different from sorbet?) and illustrates the components necessary to make a winning dessert.

In addition to this guidance, there are over 200 recipes that truly inspire a general reader to move beyond their comfort zone. Personally, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about a recipe for Buttermilk Sherbet and Concord Grape Soup. Arranged in logical chapters, the book is broken down into:

  1. A Brief History of Frozen Desserts
  2. Ingredients
  3. Equipment, Machines, and Tools
  4. Dairy-Based Frozen Desserts
  5. Non-Dairy Frozen Desserts
  6. Aerated Still-Frozen Desserts
  7. Finished Items
  8. Base Recipes

The book concludes with an Appendices (with a great chart on the average sugar, solids, and acid content of various fruits), Glossary, Bibliography, Internet References, Resources, and Index (both by subject and by recipe).

From the Introduction, Mr. Migoya notes that he focuses the text on the most widely used variety of desserts: ice cream, gelato, sherbet, sorbet, granite, ices, an aerated items such as semifreddo, parfait, bombe, frozen souffle and frozen mousse. For each area covered he explains the definition of each dessert as well as the differences between desserts. Throughout the book, he thoughtfully describes how each dessert is made and how it should be stored. He is objective in his approach and provides information on traditional techniques while contrasting these techniques with modern methods.

The recipes are easy to follow, clearly written and well presented. Stunning photography of the plated desserts accompanies each section. I am intrigued by many of the recipes, including:

  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Sorbet
  • Piquillo Pepper Sorbet
  • Black and Tan Ice Cream (yes, using beer!)
  • Port Ice Cream
  • Espresso-Cardamom Ice Cream
  • Roasted Black Mission Fig Gelato
  • Lemongrass Semifreddo

Coming in at over 400 pages, call this simply ‘a book’ doesn’t do it justice. Frozen Desserts is a reference source, a compendium for both professionals and amateurs interested in expanding their knowledge of deliciously cold treats and desserts.

The pleasant surprise is that this book is affordable as well, currently listed for less than $40US on (retail price $60US). If you have a favorite foodie in your life who enjoys crafting ice-creams or if you yearn to explore sorbets and granites, this book will make a perfect addition to any personal reference collection. Before our weather turns cool, I will explore the buttermilk sherbet and share my results with you!

Frozen Desserts
By Francisco J. Migoya, The Culinary Institute of America (CIA)
Published by John Wiley & Sons
ISBN: 978-0-470-11866-5
Library of Congress: TX 795.M62 2008

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  1. I had buttermilk panna cotta before, and it was really nice and refreshing. No doubt your sherbet will be as well! I’ve also had dried mission fig ice cream… it was just the dried, though, not a roasted one. Faster, post post post! ;)

  2. ts:
    I know, I know … I had held off on this review because I planned to make the sherbet first. I finally realized that it wasn’t going to happen soon enough :-) The weather has taken a dip this past week and it’s starting to look like Fall so I better hurry up or I’ll be making turkey-cranberry sherbet!

  3. Dang. You went ahead and reviewed this book when it is starting to snow here. Now I have to wait until next summer before I can try many of these recipes out. Oh well, I’ll just turn up the heat and pretend it is hot out.

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