Natalia's Elegant Creations

$$$$ ($15-$24)

Editorial Review

An accountant by trade, Natalia Kost-Lupichuk came to realize that she preferred sheet pans to spreadsheets. So in February she quit her day job and became a full-time baker, turning out beautiful as well as delicious European-style pastries.

Thus far, sales of Natalia's Elegant Creations have increased every week.

"At first, I thought to myself, 'Let's see how it goes,' " says Kost-Lupichuk, 34, who has a master's degree in culinary arts from Boston University. "But I put care and love into everything I make, and people seem to appreciate it."

Kost-Lupichuk acknowledges her Ukrainian heritage by using little flour in her desserts, relying more on ground nuts and layers of light, airy genoise. None of her pastries are cloyingly sweet, and she uses only natural flavoring and no preservatives.

There are standouts. Her Caribbean rum cheesecake is surprisingly light, creamy and rich with coconut. Cocoa lovers will appreciate the intense chocolate rum cream ganache torte where a little goes a very long way. She makes a light, Ukrainian walnut torte layered with vanilla walnut butter cream and red currant preserves. The lemon bars, topped with candied lemon peel, are some of the best we have tasted.

"You have to like lemon. There's just a hint of sweetness," says the chef. "But there's just enough puckering."

--Walter Nicholls (July 27, 2005)