This pastry chef leans on her STEM background to design impossible-looking desserts.

Dinara Kasko makes cakes. Absolutely stunning cakes.  

They're modern, bold, and structural, with decadent shapes and surprising flavors. They're also designed using algorithms and mathematical principles.

All photos via Dinara Kasko, used with permission.


Kasko, 28, trained for years as an architect and designer in Ukraine and enjoyed her craft but wanted to try something new.

Instead of designing the next great skyline, she attended pastry school with a focus on patisserie (think pastries and sweets as opposed to bread or candies). Kasko combined her skills as an architect with her new medium — sugar — and didn't look back.

But with her architectural chops, Kasko doesn't stick to traditional bundt or tube pans. Instead, she designs and prints her own molds with a 3D printer.

Using her background in math and design principles, along with specialty software, Kasko invents her own one-of-a kind pans.

"Generally speaking, this educational background has influenced my taste and style," Kasko says in an interview via e-mail. "Besides, it has taught me the right proportions, how to design and create beautiful objects of the right proportion."

New desserts start on the computer, where molds are designed and perfected with specialty software.

Then the molds are printed layer by layer with a 3D printer.

Kasko then considers the look and feel of the mold to decide what flavors and consistencies fit best. While any flavor of sponge will do, Kasko challenges herself to make her flavors as unique as her designs.

"As for the basic recipes that go with my moulds, I am trying to make them off-the-beaten track with nice textures," she writes. "Also, the form and what is inside of the cake should be well-combined. If it’s the 'Block' mould, then the cake is dense inside. If it is 'Cloud,' then it has a very smooth texture and so on."

In addition to her background in architecture, Kasko is inspired by contemporary art.

She's traveling to an exhibition on Dutch art in the coming weeks where she'll participate as a speaker and connect with other artists, though few will be working in chocolate and butter.

With desserts that dazzle the eye and the tastebuds, Kasko's food pushes the limits of art and physics.  Here are a few of her amazing sweets.

1. This eye-popping dessert is a cheesecake with goat cheese and cranberries housed in thin chocolate rings.

Kasko had to carefully piece the rings together to ensure they could support the cheesecake without breaking.

2. That's not concrete, it's cake! Kasko contrasted a hard-looking, geometric exterior with soft sponge cake.

3. Kasko worked with parametric designer Andrej Pavlov to create this almost rock-like mold using the mathematical principle of a Voronoi diagram.

For those of you who aren't math majors, according to some helpful lecture slides from that's the "subdivision of the plane where the faces correspond to the regions where one site is closest." Note: Most Voronoi diagrams aren't stuffed with chocolate mousse.

4. Inspired by the work of Matt Shlian, this dessert is actually 81 individual, unique cakes designed with an algorithm to form a single composition.

And yes, that's delicious ruby chocolate.

5. Kasko leaned heavily on her architecture background for this nearly topographic piece, using the triangulation principle to make an edible construction with a lime-basil flavor.

6. This cherry cake came to life after Kasko played around with placing objects in a confined space.

She started with simple spheres, then switched some to cherries for a more natural look.

The inside is chocolate sponge cake with a crispy layer, cherry confit, and chocolate mousse.

Kasko's work is a beautiful reminder that STEM careers and capabilities aren't limited to the classroom, laboratory, or office.

When Kasko didn't find her niche, she quite literally created her own. By making STEM classes, tools, and software more accessible in schools, community centers, and libraries, we plant the seeds of innovation and ingenuity in the next generation.

English⬇️ Мой первый пряничный домик "Tod's" специально для конкурса "Печенье объединяет" от @maria.leonova где я в роли судьи! Делаем пряничный домик, чем оригинальнее, тем интереснее. Для примера я выбрала один из моих любимых архитектурных объектов, построенный в 2004г в Токио - бутик итальянского дома моды Tod's. Выпекала обычное пряничное тесто. Затем сточила края теркой и залила щели растопленным крашеным изомальтом. Отличная возможность просто сделать пряничный домик для себя и семьи на праздники ☺️ Вы можете сделать любой домик - стандартный или нет, по желанию. Судьи проекта: Cinzia Bolognezi @cuordicarciofo, Anna Rastorgueva @anna.rastorgueva ❗️Все подробности по участию, призам и правилам у @maria.leonova ❗️ Вопросы по заданию пишем в комментариях у @maria.leonova под анонсом. . It's my first gingerbread house "Tod's" for the first international cookies competition - COOKIES UNITE. For the competition my inspiration was an amazing Tod's building, located in Tokyo, that is wrapped in a skin of criss-crossed concrete braces and glass that mimics the trees lining the street. I'll be a mentor in the next stage: Gingerbread house! You have to do some creative and nice gingerbread house. The more creative, the better. ❗️All rules, tasks, information about prizes you can find at @maria.leonova❗️ Mentors in other categories: Cinzia Bolognezi @cuordicarciofo Anna Rastorgueva @anna.rastorgueva #okmycake #pastryinspiration #chocolatejewels #pastryart #cake #kharkov #харьков #chefsofinstagram #gastroart #art #pastryart #dinarakasko #chefstalk #pastry #chefs #geometry #instadessert #foodcreation #foodartchefs #foodporn #beautifulcuisine #callebaut #photoart#cookies_unite_dinara#gingerbreadhouse#tods#tokyo#architectura

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And there's nothing sweeter than that.

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Today, I'm a 35-year-old man with a flame shaved into my beard. If the '80s movies I love so much are any indication, this is a sure sign I'm going through some kind of existential crisis. Next week, when the semester starts and I begin teaching again, it will not be strange if my colleagues start to worry about me just a little. A sports car or a neck-jerking pivot to physical fitness — that's an understandable response to the realization that life is fleeting. But a large meticulous flame carved out of facial hair? What does one do with that?

At this moment, though, I'm showing my face proudly to a woman wearing a swimsuit with a taco cat on it. We have only recently met, but she's telling me that she's so into my "fade" that she wants to kiss it. Then she does, blowing a raspberry into my cheek so hard that her hat falls off. Neither of us can stop laughing.

"Live Mas!" she yells with the excitement of someone who's never had trouble fully seizing the moment.

"Live Mas!" I shout back without any irony. There is no irony here in Palm Springs, where, for four days only, hundreds of people celebrate their love for Taco Bell.

Here, there's only swimming and hot sauce-themed leisure wear, and the warm pleasant feeling that comes from eating too much and knowing that you're with your own people. Even if the only thing that connects you is a love for a fast food giant that feeds you when you're hammered and shameless at 2 a.m.

We drank the Baja Blast! My Taco Bell fade and my friend's specialty manicure!Mark Shrayber

What does it mean to Live Mas? This is a question I am forced to ask myself over and over during my 24-hour stay at "The Bell," where I have stowed away as a friend's plus-one. We are, of course, both politely pretending that I'm a full-on guest with all the perks that entails, but we also both know that I wouldn't be here eating unlimited quesadillas poolside without her.

So maybe that's the first thing Live Mas means: To build strong lifelong connections which you can, with some luck, exploit to your benefit. :) :) :)

But this is too cynical an interpretation, because everyone here is so happy. Happy that they've gotten a reservation; happy that they can cool off in a room themed after an iconic Mountain Dew Drink, and happy that they can share their own personal story of what Taco Bell means to them. (Though there's no formal essay contest — I've checked.)

Me: This room won't be that cool. Also me: OH MY GOD, THIS IS THE COOLEST ROOM I'VE EVER BEEN IN!!!Mark Shrayber

Snatches of this story float around the "Fire" pool, where all the entertainment is concentrated: One couple canceled their trip to Prague because "Prague will always be there" — a brave stance considering climate change; another met last year on Tinder after the girlfriend's Taco Bell senior photos went viral; at the opening ceremony on Thursday, where sauce packets were cut instead of a ribbon, a city official brought others to tears with both her Taco Bell fashion and a memory of how her parents would feed an entire family with 19-cent-tacos from the first-ever Taco Bell in Downey, California.

Oh, I forgot one: The guy who skipped out on Prague? He got a giant bell shaved into the side of his head, so he might have to miss out on a black-tie event happening later this week. But it's all good. Bring on the nacho fries.

I make fast friends with four women who are here for a bachelorette party, the bride overwhelmed with good vibes and prosecco. This year, for her 30th, she rented a party bus. Inside? $100 worth of Taco Bell that her fiancee was worried might not be consumed.

"But little did he know," she shouts in the hot tub where we're "cooling off" after a long day of 108-degree sunning, "we ate it all!"

A bachelorette party and a birthday! We're really living it up (but also staying hydrated.)Mark Shrayber

Others whoop it up at the twist, but we all get it. Though there's no essay contest, I don't mind telling you that when my first boyfriend dumped me 14 years ago, I stuffed my face with chalupas. When I lost a job I really loved four years ago, I once ordered so much Taco Bell that the delivery app of my choice informed me I'd exceeded the maximum number of items they could comfortably fill in one order. We get it — though none of us can truly explain it.

There are, if you look at the The Bell from a literary perspective, many other writers who deserve this experience more than me. They could talk about the blue of the pool. Or the insouciance of youth. Draw parallels between marketing stunts such as this and the end-stage capitalism. Or envision a "Demolition Man" future where Taco Bell is fine dining and none of us know how to use the three shells in the bathroom to get ourselves clean.

And I wish these writers could be here to paint you these landscapes, but what you've got is me, a literal Taco Bell super-fan, and what I'm doing is eating and getting sunburned and taking a synchronized swimming class with the Aqualillies, who refer to themselves as "the world's most glamorous water ballet entertainment," but have very little idea of what to do with 10 eager recruits who can't stay afloat or on beat.


G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S!!Photo courtesy of Taco Bell.

"It's okay," one of the instructors comforts me just before the Tacolilies (the name of our "team") are invited to perform our watery version of "Senorita" — which was supposed to be two minutes long, then 1:15, and has now been judiciously cut down, due to talent, to about 45 seconds — in the bigger pool. "We regularly teach five-year-olds. And you're doing much better."

Usually, I would take offense at such blatant reads, but today I'm unbothered. I'll continue to be so right until I get home and discover that I've left all my electronics on United Flight 5223 (if anyone wants to get them back to me). And even then, I rage at myself for all of five seconds before checking that I've still got what's important: A certificate that says I did not drown while doing water ballet.

It's still there. As is my phone, which is blowing up with messages from people who took pictures of me in what Taco Bell calls its "power suit," and which is best described as "cult outfit, but kinda make it fashion." I bought my husband one, too, and I look forward to the argument we're going to have about holiday cards later.

This is "Live Mas."

I've never been so happy to match with someone else in my life. MaMark Shrayber

Or maybe it's the moment another stranger tells me that we'll be friends forever. Such friendships are forged quickly when you've got less than 24 hours to make lifelong connections and I'm pleased to get the full experience.

"We may never meet again," he says while we're swimming, "but we'll always have this time together."

Then we establish that he lives just across the park from me in San Francisco.

"Aw, man," he says, floating away to take pictures of the people he came with, "I've got lots of close friends I never see because they live across that damn park."

But the sentiment holds.

We Live Mas it on.

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