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. Before that Karen had worked at Fore Street in Portland, and then at Gramercy Tavern under seminal New York pastry chef Claudia Fleming (the number of talented pastry chefs that worked for Claudia is an undeservedly well-kept secret). So I knew from her pedigree that she was my kind of pastry chef.
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. In the intervening years she's won every award there is for a pastry chef to win, including the James Beard Award as the best pastry chef in America, first from her perch as Tom Colicchio's first pastry chef at Craft and now as the pastry chef at Locanda Verde in New York. Karen is whip-smart, ridiculously talented, and a fine human being to boot. Her first book, The Craft of Baking, was thoughtful, empowering, and beautifully crafted. When we decided to feature a different pastry chef every week, we did it with folks like Karen DeMasco in mind.
We've already kicked off the summer with berry desserts and frozen treats, but Karen's here to share her favorite desserts for a picnic—blueberry hand pies (Karen is a phenomenal pie baker, and I don't say that lightly), cream-filled oatmeal sandwich cookies, and much more. I'm hungry just thinking about it. Take it away, Karen.
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