Denmark grew up in Columbia, Md., where she had memorized her chocolate chip cookie recipe by middle school. Always baking and reading cookbooks, her father encouraged her to consider the field of culinary arts as a career. As a result of his guidance, Denmark participated in a mentorship program at a high-end French restaurant in her final year of high school, leading her to enroll in Johnson & Wales University.
Throughout her studies at the University, Denmark interned at The Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island, FL, where she managed all dessert production for club level operations. Working for a cake decorator in Old Ellicott City, MD., Denmark became skilled at transferring food into art. Finally, while working on Bobolink Dairy Farm and Bakeyard in Vernon, N.J., she came to appreciate the importance of sustainability and using farm-raised food, two themes of great importance at Gracie’s.
Denmark graduated summa cum laude from Johnson & Wales University in 2010 with a Bachelor’s degree in Baking and Pastry Arts. In the same year, she became an American Culinary Federation Certified Culinarian. In 2012, Denmark was named by Food & Wine magazine as one of the 50 best new pastry chefs in the country by nominating her for this first-ever award. Melissa placed 4th among nominees in the East region. Denmark resides in Providence, RI.
Apple Buttermilk Tart
½ cup sugar
1 cup butter, cubed
1 ½ cup flour
½ t. salt
½ t. vanilla
1. Mix sugar, butter, flour, and salt until it has a sandy texture.
2. Add the eggs and vanilla and continue to mix until it forms a ball.
3. Roll out onto floured surface 1/8" thick and fit into a tart pan.
4. Use your hands to press dough into all the corners and remove excess dough that hangs over the edge of the pan.
5. Chill for at least one hour in the refrigerator.
5 apples (Macoun and Honeycrisp or other preferred combination of crisp apples) peeled and sliced into 6 slices
1 ½ cup buttermilk
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup honey
2 T. flour
¼ t. salt
¼ t. nutmeg
½ t. cinnamon
¼ t. cardamom
1/8 t. clove
1 t. ground ginger
1. Peel and slice apples, set aside.
2. Whisk remaining ingredients together until fully incorporated.
3. Add apples to filling and mix to coat.
4. Pour into prepared tart shell arranging the apples evenly in a flat layer.
½ cup oats
½ cup sliced almonds
¼ cup flour
¼ t. salt
¼ cup candied ginger, finely chopped
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup butter, cubed
1. Mix all ingredients together until only very small pieces of butter remain and everything is fully combined.
2. Pour over prepared tart to coat the entire top.
3. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until lightly golden brown.