Artisan of the year: Four & Twenty Blackbirds

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Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

Salted-caramel apple pie at Four & Twenty Blackbirds

There was no shortage of artisanal odes to Americana this year, but sisters Emily and Melissa Elsen's nostalgic re-creations of classic pies scored our blue-ribbon nod. The iconic dessert proliferated in more-easily reached joints across the city, but that didn't stop droves of pastry worshippers from making pilgrimages to the pair's far-flung Gowanus caf. Flawless golden-butter crusts and stunning combinations (lavender-blueberry, cranberry-sage) give many of the specimens a sentimental quality. But the South Dakota natives' tweaks on sugary archetypes—apple pie refined with herbaceous aromatic bitters, and custard chess pie caramelized with honey and Maldon salt—elevate old-fashioned formulas to new stratospheres. Four & Twenty Blackbirds, 439 Third Ave at 8th St, Gowanus, Brooklyn (718-499-2917, birdsblack.com)

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