After taking a few years off from the restaurant scene to raise her daughters, widely-acclaimed pastry chef Karen DeMasco is back in the game at Hearth in the East Village. Hearth’s new American menu contains elevated versions of hearty favorites, so it is no wonder that DeMasco’s dessert offerings include the likes of apple cider donuts, toffee date cake, and maple panna cotta. She also whips up warm, gooey cinnamon rolls for brunch patrons.
DeMasco got her start training under Claudia Fleming at the Gramercy Tavern, made a name for herself at Craft, and most recently headed the pastry team at Locanda Verde. Her food style uses lots of seasonal ingredients and puts sophisticated spins on down-home classics. This is why when her Craft co-worker and owner of Hearth Marco Canora asked if she knew any pastry chefs for hire, DeMasco named herself. She agreed to take the job as long as she could work on her own schedule. Now DeMasco works when her kids are at school and leaves the dinner-hour dessert prep to the rest of the kitchen team.
In keeping with Hearth’s policy of only serving unprocessed, nutritious foods, DeMasco makes all of her desserts using better-for-you ingredients. With local grains, grass-fed milk and butter, no white sugar, and flours freshly milled in-house, these treats will satisfy your sweet tooth without wreaking havoc on the environment or your body. After a long career of creating pastries in more traditional ways, DeMasco says using these alternative ingredients has been “educational” in the best possible way.