Skip dinner and go straight to dessert with a menu inspired by pastry master (and Top Chef Just Desserts winner) Yigit Pura
1 of 9Photo by Alex Farnum
Sure, he may be professionally biased, but pastry chef Yigit Pura has a point when he says: " There are very, very, very few people in the world who don't like dessert." For that reason, the Top Chef Just Desserts winner suggests forgoing the typical candelit dinner for Valentine's Day and inviting friends over for an all-dessert party instead.
His recipes, made for an after-hours gathering at his San Francisco patisserie, Tout Sweet, also break with the holiday's staple flavor--chocolate--for the bright tastes of winter citrus paired with comforting creamy textures. The desserts are layered with sophisticated flavors, but require no pastry chef-level skills. And many of the elements can be prepared ahead of time, making the party even easier to pull off than a dinner, "when so much cooking happens right at the end," says Pura.
When planning, Pura's rule of thumb is three desserts per person--"at an absolute minimum," he says. "For this kind of party, you want to caution on the side of abundance."
Info: Tout Sweet Pâtisserie, third floor of Macy's, Union Square, 170 O'Farrell St., San Francisco;toutsweetsf.com
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Honey Custards with Blood Oranges and Candied Lemon
Honey gives these silky custards a gentle, aromatic flavor. We opted for making them in standard 4-oz. ramekins, but Pura also likes to bake them in smaller sake cups.
Pura uses these citrus slices as a garnish, both the way they are below (on the softer side, halfway between candied and poached) or one step further (dried overnight on a rack, then turned in sugar for a sparkly look, as in photo). Sometimes he adds cut-up lemongrass to the syrup.
“Tout Sweet [Pura's San Francisco patisserie] is basically a giant dessert party every day,” says Pura. Still, he regularly invites friends to his own home for a sweets-centric party. Here are his tips.
In Turkey, where Pura is from, there’s a saying about how the eyes should feast on the food before the stomach does. For a dessert party, you just need some simple glasses and white dishes. The food is the decoration.
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Dessert party drinks
With dessert, you don’t want anything too sweet or too boozy. Serve Champagne, or mix some prosecco with about 2 tablespoons of Aperol or Campari in each flute. It’s something they do in Italy left and right—and Pura does too.
8 of 9Photo by Alex Farnum
Pura likes to invite 8 to 12 people. It feels lively yet intimate, and it’s a manageable number for a host.
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Pura feels that, "Hôtel Costes compilations by French DJ Stéphane Pompougnac are usually great for an upbeat feel. You want the music flowing up and down, to engage guests."