Amber Croom/ Baltimore, MD

Chef Spotlight with Amber Croom owner of And 4 Dessert

Photo Credit: Amber Croom

Sugar Rush

Pastry chef Amber Croom excels under pressure. Croom won the inaugural season of “Chopped Sweets” in 2020. She appeared most recently on Season 2 of “Crime Scene Kitchen” where she and fellow Baltimore pastry chef Yassmeen Haskins solved the clues for the winning cake.

Amber made her reality baking debut with Season 3 of Food Network’s “Holiday Baking Championship” in 2016, which tested her skills and her nerves. It was awhile before she stepped on set again. When she did, though, she impressed the “Chopped Sweets” judges with a savory chocolate cake made from a basket of mystery ingredients. Amber also appears in Season 30 of “Beat Bobby Flay.

The Flavor is Bright

Back home at her confectionary studio in Baltimore, And 4 Dessert, Amber sets the pace. She’s famous for her stunning visuals, innovative flavor palettes and technical skill.

Throughout her career, Amber has used The Perfect Purée in bonbons, sauces, beverages, ice cream and more. “I’m definitely not a stranger at all to The Perfect Purée,” she says. “I love Blood Orange and Carmelized Pineapple, that’s absolutely frickin’ phenomenal.”

Via home cocktail experiments with her partner, a bartender, she gets inspiration for desserts. Red Sangria, for instance, inspired a buttercream frosting for dark chocolate cake.

Citrus flavors play a big role at And 4 Dessert. “For me, citrus is always my second love outside chocolate,” Amber says. “I love anything sweet and tart. Passion fruit, calamansi and yuzu, those are the flavors that I use to brighten things up.” The Perfect Purée Yuzu Luxe Sour and Lemon and Lime Zest star in the curd for Amber’s salty key lime slab pie. She also makes caramel for beignets with yuzu.

Being able to educate people about different flavors is important. “I’m always looking for purées to supplement not being able to get our hands on a certain fruit and I can’t get yuzu anywhere else,” Amber says.

Going Places

With Yassmeen, Amber started the Baltimore area pop-up Beye Beignets. In interviews, both of them say competitive cooking shows like “Crime Scene Kitchen” bring much-needed attention to professional bakers and inspire others to set their sights high in the food world. “Sugar, flour, and eggs have taken me places,” Yassmeen says in Baltimore Magazine.

Amber grew up in Alabama with a mother who is a phenomenal cook, she said in an interview with Cuisine Noir magazine. That influence stayed with her after plans to become a naval architect and marine engineer were derailed by Hurricane Katrina in August, 2005. She left the University of New Orleans and enrolled at The Culinard to become a classically trained pastry chef, something she said brought her joy.

Amber interned and later worked at Rimini Gelato and Chocolates in Vail, Colorado. From there, she became a confectioner for the luxury cruise line Silver Sea. Back on land, she oversaw the pastry department at Bellini’s Ristorante and Bar in Birmingham, Alabama. She opened the Sagamore Pendry Hotel in Baltimore, MD and worked as head chocolatier at one of the largest catering companies in Washington, D.C.​, Occasions Caterers.

And 4 Dessert grew out of necessity during the pandemic when Amber started creating pastry boxes for Zoom celebrations. She now sells wholesale for private clients, farmer’s markets and events.

Amber hopes to share everything she’s learned. “I have a lot to offer. My goal is to have my own test kitchen as well as to teach from it and grow the next generation of pastry chefs,” she says in Cuisine Noir.