Pastry chef Karen DeMasco is living the sweet life. By day, she's in the kitchen at Locanda Verde alongside fellow Ohioan Andrew Carmellini, where she's whipping up seemingly simple yet inventively flavored desserts like her signature maple budino. When she goes home (right next door to the new Nets stadium), she's taking her husband and two daughters out for pizza, ice cream, or burgers and hot dogs—without ever having to leave the neighborhood. Read on for Karen's droolworthy tour of Prospect Heights.
'Karen DeMasco' on Serious Eats
There is nothing I love more than streusel. I find so many ways to work it into desserts and pastries. This is the ultimate in streusel—a tart made entirely almost entirely of it. Not only is this incredibly easy and quick, but making it in the shape of a tart and serving wedges adds a bit of elegance.
This tart is simple but elegant. Feel free to substitute other fruit preserves if you have them on hand.
This is my all time favorite non-chocolate cake. The almond paste lends great flavor and moisture. This cake is as light as an angel food cake, but with all the benefits of butter. It works really well with a variety of summer fruit—feel free to fill it it with whatever kind of jam you have made.
These oatmeal cookies remind me of the treats that I loved when I was a kid—the Little Debbie cream filled cookies. I make the filling with a mixture of cream cheese and white chocolate with a touch of salt. The tang of the cream cheese really cuts the cloying sweetness of the white chocolate.
I first discovered this Australian treat, classically called a Lamington, when I was in Japan. It was a snack left for me in my hotel room, and I was blown away. It had a white cake interior with a chocolate cake exterior, all rolled in coconut, and perfect for eating out of hand.
I first discovered this Australian treat, classically called a Lamington, when I was in Japan. It was a snack left for me in my hotel room, and I was blown away. Cubes of super moist white cake are glazed in chocolate. Once the glaze is set, it helps hold the fragile cake together, and the whole thing just melts in your mouth.
In my opinion, a pie is just too messy to be eating at a picnic. Pies are the perfect summer dessert, but they are difficult to cut and serve, awkward to transport, and they require using a plate and a fork (also a napkin, because summer pies can be seriously drippy). But these blueberry hand pies are truly portable.
These tasty hand pies are truly portable—no cutting, no plate, no silverware necessary, and easy to pack as well.
The first time pastry chef Karen DeMasco's seriously delicious desserts came to my attention, she was the pastry chef at the now defunct Della Femina in New York. Even back then, Karen wowed me. I noticed how perfectly balanced her creations were; the textures were always as they should be; her flavors were so vivid and explosive; the sweetness in every dessert was carefully calibrated. When we decided to feature a different pastry chef every week, we did it with folks like Karen DeMasco in mind.
[Photo: Kathy Chan] Three things you should keep in mind: Apple Cinnamon Roll. Toffee Date Cake. Torrone. This trio of sweets is the latest to join Karen DeMasco's lineup of baked goods at Locanda Verde. The roll comes out...
It's no surprise that brunch at Locanda Verde is as good as everything else there. The morning meal is the perfect way to integrate Karen DeMasco's insane talents with chef Carmellini's, and it's a beautiful canvas that they can...
The following recipe is from the October 14 edition of our weekly recipe newsletter. To receive this newsletter in your inbox, sign up here! Last week we had the pleasure of sharing some of our favorite recipes from acclaimed pastry...
The girl behind the pasty counter at Locanda Verde was serious when she said to me, "Thank goodness they keep this cake covered—the scent drives me insane." She removed the glass cover, the smell of fresh gingerbread cake wafted...
The batter has two leavening agents, beer and whipped egg whites, which make for light and airy fritters. The apple slices sit in a cinnamon and sugar mixture for just enough time to absorb the flavors without turning mushy. These fritters have all the wonderful appley qualities of an apple-filled doughnut minus that cloyingly sweet gooey apple filling.
"Karen DeMasco has come up with a rice pudding that surpasses the cafeteria tray by leaps and bounds." Rice pudding is mostly served in places where dessert is more of an afterthought than the main event. It's the go-to dessert...
The following recipe is from the October 7 edition of our weekly recipe newsletter. To receive this newsletter in your inbox, sign up here! I had always thought of corn as a side dish, either on the cob with salt...
The buttermilk and lemon zest added a slight tang, the cinnamon and nutmeg brought to mind the fall flavors, and the glaze made these little guys sparkle. Doughnuts tend to brighten any day, and this was no exception.
As someone who needs no convincing about the glories of white chocolate, I was eager to try Demasco's White Chocolate Truffles with lemon zest and pistachios. Melting the chocolate and the lemon zest together releases the fragrant oils into the creamy chocolate, cutting the sweetness with a hint of acid. I left my pistachios ground a little less than fine for the truffle coating, lending a nutty crunch and a beautifully craggy exterior. Even if you prefer dark or milk to white chocolate, I suggest you give these little guys a try, the lemon really takes these truffles to the next level.
When the lovely apple-packed and cinnamon-scented muffins emerged from my oven, I was struck by their pliant texture. They had a resilience that made every muffin come out of the tin in a bouncy little round.