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A sweet sense of purpose

Baker expands reach from West Roxbury to South Station

Karen Morales
A sweet sense of purpose
(l-r) Danielle McLean, Carlene O’Garro, and Kiana Soriano-Lara. (Photo: Photo: Karen Morales)

“It’s like comedy hour in here,” said Carlene O’Garro, her work associates at Delectable Desires Pastries laughing in agreement. “We’ve talked about how we should probably have our own YouTube channel.”

O’Garro is a pastry chef and owner of the bakery nestled on Centre Street, West Roxbury’s main commercial thoroughfare. Although customers shouldn’t expect a YouTube series anytime soon, a second location is slated to open in South Station this fall.

She co-manages the store with fellow baker Danielle McLean. Two other baker women make up the close-knit team that spends endless hours making extravagant cakes and baking indulgent treats.

“We all work well together and we all have a sense of humor, so that’s great,” said McLean, who has been with the pastry shop for more than a year. “Because we all love what we do, it’s different from just punching in and punching out.”

Delectable Desires Pastries has been operating as a brick-and-mortar shop since January 2015. Before that, O’Garro had been baking as a wholesale professional since 2007, her career rooted in childhood memories and an appetite for passion.

She showed a keen interest in baking at the age of four as she observed her mother in the kitchen. When O’Garro was around eight years old, she recalls watching her mother add a dash of liquor to the cake batter and starting to experiment with ingredients on her own. “She gave me creative freedom,” O’Garro said.

When she grew up, the Mattapan native studied biology and psychology at Jacksonville University, and engaged in baking as a hobby. At that time she was gearing up for a legal career, having been accepted at Suffolk University Law School, but then — a change of heart.

“I worked a little bit in corporate and was like, ‘Yeah this isn’t for me,’” O’Garro recalled. “I didn’t feel fulfilled.”

Thinking back to shared moments baking with her mom, she enrolled in a one-year program at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. Instead of staying up late poring over legal cases, she decorates cakes into the early hours of the morning.

“I like to come in at 12 or 1 in the morning and decorate,” O’Garro said. “It’s just when all my creative juices are flowing.”

After graduating from her culinary school program, O’Garro began concocting a plan to run a wholesale bakery business. “I just made pastries, and literally went door to door to different cafés, handing out samples,” she said. “I typed up a product guide, and sold things for 50 cents.”

She also joined CropCircle Kitchen, a shared-use kitchen commissary and culinary incubator where she began to amass her clientele.

“I got so busy with the cake business that I couldn’t make it out of my house anymore, and was using too many hours at CropCircle Kitchen,” she said. The natural next step: opening a retail space for Delectable Desires Pastries.

Today, the wholesale business provides baked items to ongoing clients such as Whole Foods retail locations all over New England.

Back at the bakery, on Saturdays the sticky buns are usually the first to sell out when they’re put on display, along with the orange cranberry and cinnamon chocolate chip scones that can be savored throughout the week. And then there are the beloved chocolate chunk cookies and brownies that never fail to woo customers.

The women of Delectable Desires Pastries can custom-make any type of cake for any occasion. O’Garro recalled a time when the team worked for two days on a six-tier wedding cake that was “completely blinged out with rhinestones.”

O’Garro’s Caribbean roots influence her style of cooking and choice of ingredients, she said. She likes to infuse cake batter with different flavors like almond or spicy rum. “But it can’t be too overpowering, it has to be balanced.”

As for her decision to expand, O’Garro said, “The opportunity came. I thought about it, I prayed on it and everything just followed in order.”

With the help of a loan from the Boston Impact Initiative, Delectable Desires Pastries will open its second location at a booth inside the bus terminal of South Station, across from the CVS. O’Garro said that a variety of items will be offered there, but they also will stick to their popular scones, muffins, cakes and cupcakes. She hopes to generate more wholesale and catering clients, including corporations, from the South Station perch.