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A Dessert Worthy of Design

December 17, 2017
A Dessert Worthy of Design

Desserts have always been deserving of serious design accolades. Take the iconic macaron. Minimalist, yet perfectly curved, the macaron is a study in balance and proportion. Two smooth cookies with textured edges hug a silky center of ganache, butter cream or jam. No longer restricted to paler hues, this new generation of macarons has burst onto the scene in a full spectrum of pantone colors. The chic macaron has found its way to many a fashion, architecture or lifestyle instagram feed, including my own!

Perhaps an even more ubiquitous design reference in social media is the ice cream cone. Along with the macaron and its earthy cousin, the doughnut, the ice cream cone has clearly been enjoying its 15 minutes of fame. Nothing emphasizes this point more than the overwhelming success of the Museum of Ice Cream – launched with much fanfare in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and now newly opened in Miami this December. Visitors pay homage to ice cream by journeying through eye-catching design environments - rooms filled with sprinkles, frozen bananas and gummy bear sculptures – and then posting their exuberant selfies minutes later.

photo credit: Katie Gibbs

My first memory of a dessert as a design object occurred during the year I spent in Hong Kong as a young child. For each of our birthdays, Gung Gung, my maternal grandfather, would prepare a fresh cream fruit cake, an ethereal creation in white topped with delicate fruits. The cake was delicately sweet, giving one the chance to appreciate the subtle textures of the cake and the flavors of the fruit. As in fashion, a great pastry chef plays with textures, colors, and proportions to create the intended effect.

Since then, I’ve always been inclined to see pastries as miniature expressions of art, architecture and fashion. I see in the meringue, the same curves found in the Guggenheim. I compare the elegant Sacher torte in all its formal elegance to fashion’s little black dress, while recalling the tiramisu in the gradual sienna colors of the Negev’s Flour Cave.

Ruby Chocolate Cake, above and in lead photo, courtesy of Dinara Kasko

Dinara Kasko is a former architect who brings her training to her role as pastry chef creating edible architectural innovations. Her cakes are sublime expressions of geometric precision, as worthy for viewing in a gallery as on a pastry shelf. Pictured above is Kasko’s ruby chocolate cake, 81 uniquely individual cakes that form a single stunning composition. The cross section of each cake reveals the talent of an interior designer, the layering of mousse, meringue, ganache and biscuit to create sumptuous textures.

In the end, the love for desserts is one and the same with the love for fashion, architecture, and the arts. Like all of these art forms, they stir memories of childhood, dreams, and happiness. Or is that just my sugar high talking?

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