The choice of which restaurant to dine at will usually not involve basing the final decision on the pastries that might be available for dessert. That concept was often put to the test during the heyday of New York pastry wizard Karen DeMasco, who dazzled diners with her creations at both Gramercy Tavern and Locanda Verde.
DeMasco stepped away from the daily grind a few years ago in order to give her more time with her preschool children. Now that those children are attending school, DeMasco has decided to put her apron back on and produce some of her signature items for Hearth, which is partly owned by Marco Canora.
Given her stature within the pastry community, DeMasco can choose her own hours, which tend to come during the daytime. Often working by herself in the kitchen, she sets things up for the garde manager in time for the evening crowd. She made a name for herself with her cinnamon rolls, yet DeMasco also was able to develop creative ideas such as maple panna cotte and doughnuts with an apple cider flavor.
What’s different from her previous tenure is that DeMasco is committed to embracing what’s become a standard mantra for 21st Century restaurants. That means offering items that are unprocessed, using grain operators on a local level and even making her own flour. In the latter case, she believes that both the flavor and texture of each item is enhanced through the homemade flour.
Using all of her creative instincts, DeMasco is now offering such adapted creations such as toffee date cake. In this instance, a little less sauce helps offer a less soaked and sugar-engorged concoction that can overwhelm a diner. In addition, she offers some bite with her take on poached pear and crème fraiche.