The top ten pastry chefs you need to know

NYC's dessert pros show off their best dishes.

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  • Robert Truitt, Corton

  • Nicholas Morgenstern, the General Greene

  • Franois Payard, FC Chocolate Bar and Franois Payard Bakery

  • Dominique Ansel, Daniel

  • Karen DeMasco, Locanda Verde

  • Johnny Iuzzini, Jean Georges and Nougatine at Jean GeorgesSignature dessert: The Garden Fourplay

  • Jacques Torres, Jacques Torres Chocolate

  • Michael Laiskonis, Le Bernardin

  • Gina DePalma, Babbo

  • Matthew Lodes, Walls

 

 


Robert Truitt, Corton


Corton, 239 West Broadway between Walker and White Sts (212-219-2777, cortonnyc.com)
The criminally undersung Truitt honed his avant approach to dessert while staging ("interning," in kitchenspeak) at Spain's molecular temple El Bulli and locally while manning the kitchen at the shuttered Room 4 Dessert. He's known for his food-science experimentation and methodical presentations (he's currently playing with silicone molds to create 3-D landscapes on the plate). However, Truitt keeps the flavors familiar: Raspberries may be blasted with liquid nitrogen in a complicated dessert also featuring coconut and black sesame, but they still taste like the ripe, humble fruit.


Signature dessert: brioche
Truitt's genius revision of the breakfast classic toad-in-the-hole offers a "yoke"—passion fruit and tangy yogurt—submerged in the center of house-made brioche. Sundry garnishes round out this supremely balanced dessert: a funky smear of Stilton, slices of banana, brioche- and rum-infused ice cream, and an intense hit of Valrhona chocolate. With prix-fixe $85


 

 


Nicholas Morgenstern, the General Greene


The General Greene, 229 DeKalb Ave at Clermont Ave, Fort Greene, Brooklyn (718-222-1510, thegeneralgreene.com)
The former Gilt and Gramercy Tavern pastry chef applies his classical roots to all-American standards at his Fort Greene eatery. Quality ingredients are a hallmark: There's fruity Felchlin Swiss chocolate in the chocolate chip cookies, lard buttering up the flaky apple-pie crust, and ingredients like Counter Culture coffee enriching his signature ice creams—made "Philly-style" (without eggs) to achieve a remarkably creamy texture.


Signature dessert: salted caramel sundae
Straddling the sweet-savory divide, Morgenstern's decadent sundae (and our cover dessert!) presents salted-caramel ice cream garnished with barely sweetened whipped cream, crushed salty pretzels and streaks of caramel. Dig through the scoops to spoon up chunks of fudgy caramel brownie hidden underneath. $6

 

 

 


Franois Payard, FC Chocolate Bar and Franois Payard Bakery


FC Chocolate Bar, Mauboussin boutique, 714 Madison Ave between 63rd and 64th Sts, fourth floor (212-759-1600, payard.com); Franois Payard Bakery, 116 Houston St between Sullivan and Thompson Sts (no phone yet; opening in September)
The godfather of NYC's French pastry scene, Payard helped shape the dessert menus at Le Bernardin and Daniel before opening Payard Patisserie in 1997. He earned a James Beard Award in 1995 for his trouble. His arrestingly beautiful, painstakingly classic cakes, clairs, ice cream and macarons made his restaurant a perennial favorite until it lost its lease in 2009. Currently Payard is creating his lavish, decadent desserts inside the Mauboussin boutique, but he'll have more room to play when his forthcoming Soho project, Franois Payard Bakery (FPB), opens this September.


Signature dessert: George V
This glossy beauty is a standard-bearer among chocolate cakes: Layers of crumbly black cocoa biscuit highlight rich dark-chocolate and vanilla-bean-flecked mousses, buttery dark caramel and salty roasted peanuts. The gorgeous cylinder is finished with a mirrorlike chocolate glaze. $6.50

 

 

 


Dominique Ansel, Daniel


Daniel, 60 E 65th St between Madison and Park Aves (212-288-0033, danielnyc.com)
Dominique Ansel spent seven years with the formidable Parisian pastry outfit Fauchon before joining the ranks at one of NYC's most respected fine-dining institutions, Daniel. His Louvre-worthy pastry portraiture leans on international flavors—particularly Asian ones—and a combination of modern and classic French techniques. (Witness Ansel's cloud of orange foam scented with anise and ginger that accompanies a hazelnut-chocolate mousse.)


Signature dessert: cilantro-lime macerated papaya
Cilantro brings a fresh, herbal flavor to this crisp lime and almond dacquoise—a kind of airy, layered meringue. The confection shares its plate with balls of papaya, painterly dots of marmalade made with Buddha's hand (a tart, fragrant Southeast Asian fruit), guava sorbet and a spool of guava cream draped with crystal-clear aloe gele. la carte in dessert lounge $18, with prix-fixe $105

 

 

 


Karen DeMasco, Locanda Verde


Locanda Verde, 377 Greenwich St between Franklin and North Moore Sts (212-925-3797, locandaverdenyc.com)
At Locanda Verde, DeMasco specializes in polished, straightforward presentations that combine seasonal American flavors with Italian ingredients and recipes. The seven-year vet of Tom Colicchio's Craft empire, James Beard Award winner and cookbook author raids the savory pantry, using ingredients such as extra-virgin olive oil and the sherrylike white balsamic vinegar to add flavorful, aromatic accents to cakes, ice creams and sauces.


Signature dessert: sweet-corn budino
Sweet corn gets superstar treatment in DeMasco's luscious pudding. Inky blueberry sauce counters the budino's richness, while fresh-made caramel popcorn contributes salt and crunch. Completing the summery dish: cool, refreshing blueberry sorbetto. $9

 

 

NEXT Five more chefs (and a behind-the-scenes video!)

 

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