From that sweet beginning as a boy in Turkey, Pura went on to move to San Francisco, win Bravo’s Top Chef: Just Desserts
, and open Tout Sweet Patisserie
inside Macy’s at Union Square. Now he’s published his first cookbook: “Sweet Alchemy: Dessert Magic
,” with photos by Frankie Frankeny, featuring recipes found in his patisserie and seen on Top Chef.
As one might suspect from a Top Chef, this is not a simple book. Serious pastry making can intimidate even the best home cooks with its necessary precision. The desserts found within are mostly complex creations, made from multiple components. However, what’s good about this for the home cook is that one can decide how ambitious she wants to be. For instance, one can make his Double Molten Chocolate Cake by itself, or as he would serve it, along with Bing Cherries Braised in Syrah and Star Anise and Tahitian Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Or one can cheat, and serve it with store-bought ice cream and no one would be the wiser as to which components are missing.
Same with his Luxe Finish, which he describes as a crossover of a cheese plate and dessert. It features Port & Peppercorn Glazed Mission Figs, Honey Baked Crispy Phyllo Squares, Ricotta Mascarpone Filling with Cognac, and Candied Buddha’s Hand. Sounds daunting, I know. But if one breaks this dessert down to its components, it becomes much more approachable.
Yet such desserts are not for the timid, and there is plenty of instruction as well as lots of anecdotes about his Buddhist beliefs; it makes sense, since non-attachment is a requisite trait for a beginning pastry chef. While probably not the best book for novices, there are definitely some recipes, like cookies, truffles and sodas that a beginner would find easy to master.
But then again, it might just be easier to go to Union Square.
Yigit Pura will be at Williams-Sonoma Union Square on Saturday, Sept. 6 at noon for a book-signing and dessert demonstration. Tickets are $41 and include a copy of Sweet Alchemy.
Yigit Pura traces his love of pastry back to licking the spoon from his mother’s crème caramel. She’d let the sugar remaining in the pot harden onto a spoon, making a lollipop of sorts, and then would give it to her son, largely to give herself some peace and quiet.