Gordon Ramsay once said that the worst day to go out to dinner is Valentine’s Day. His advice? You should be cooking for your sweetheart on this day that is supposed to celebrate intimacy and love. Ditch the crowds, the waiters, the couple next to you bickering about the wine, and stay home, where it’s tranquil and you can more easily stare into each other’s eyes without being interrupted by a well-meaning busboy asking you if you’re finished with the crème brûlée. You could cook a special meal for your loved one, set the table with your best dishware, light a couple candles and pour some champagne, or you could even cook your Valentine’s Day dinner together. There’s hardly a better way to bond with your partner than by navigating a cramped kitchen while every burner on the stove is turned up to high, trust me. Will there be moments of tension? Yes! But the real accomplishment is creating something delicious and satisfying for the person you love (or just really, really like) that the two of you can share.
Now that I have convinced you to cook at home on Valentine's Day, you might be wondering what exactly you should make and how you should make it. Williams-Sonoma has a whole range of Valentine’s Day themed and heart-shaped kitchen tools to help you bring your two-person dinner party together and give the whole affair a festive atmosphere. Could you bake and cook your way to a romantic evening with the appliances you have now? Sure you could, but I challenge you to resist the appeal of a pink heart-shaped Le Creuset Dutch oven or a marble heart-shaped cheeseboard. As for the recipes, Food & Wine has a whole host of perfect dishes to go along with your new tools and tips on how to use them.
First up is this heart-shaped Pink Le Creuset Dutch oven. I can’t stress enough how absolutely enamored with this kitchen appliance I am, which manages to be adorable, elegant, sleek, and practical all the same time. This piece also doubles as a Valentine’s Day gift for your sweetheart. Then the inaugural meal you cook using the dish will be one you made together. The Dutch oven is perfect for whipping up a light and airy chocolate souffle. For the main course, try braising short ribs for a decadent, flavorful meal.
Le Creuset Cast-Iron Heart-Shaped Dutch Oven, $149 - $199 on williams-sonoma.com
Just the other day, I made an apple pie in the red pie dish I got for Christmas for a family dinner. I was in a hurry, so my partner helped me cut the stripes of pastry dough I used to make the lattice pattern on top. We had a blast putting the final touches on my dessert and felt closer because we had done it together. Why not try something similar this Valentine’s Day? Pick a recipe—this cherry berry pie involves an elegant lattice topping—and try to recreate it in this heart-shaped pie dish.
Emile Henry Ruffled Heart Dish, $50 on willams-sonoma.com
On Christmas Eve, my family and I sat up late into the night rolling out cookie dough, decorating, and baking our Christmas cookies, using a bag of cookie cutters we’ve had for years. Once you get into a rhythm, you can sip a glass of wine, trade stories, and create an evening full of laughter, centered on baking cookies. This set of Valentine’s Day cookie cutters will give you and your partner an excuse to sit down together for several hours on a project that requires patience, compromise, and coordination. Plus, it’s really, really fun. Here’s the Food & Wine recipe for the perfect roll out and cut sugar cookies.
Valentine Cookie Cutter Box Set, $25 on williams-sonoma.com
Spatulas are an absolute necessity in the kitchen and chances are if you’re reading this you own more than one already. This sweet set is printed with red hearts and read “love,” which will give your evening the festive touch it needs to seem like you really put the effort into making dinner special. In case you needed a reminder, you need a spatula to make everything from scrambled eggs to decorating cakes, so you’ll get plenty of use out of these.
Valentine Silicone Spatulas, Set of 3, $25 on williams-sonoma.com
Once you sit down to dinner, champagne will obviously be a necessity. These are our picks for the most luxurious and over-the-top bubbly wines on the market that are perfect for this occasion in particular. What you pour that champagne into matters. Some sommeliers say to ditch the champagne flute altogether, but there’s nothing wrong with going the traditional route sometimes. These flutes (and accompanying stemless wine glasses), which are etched with hearts, are all about the details. This is the type of extra thoughtful touch that will make your evening all the more romantic.
Valentine's Day Etched Heart Stemless Wine Glasses, Set of 4, $52 on williams-sonoma.com
Valentine's Day Etched Heart Champagne Flutes, Set of 4, $68 on williams-sonoma.com
You’ll need an appetizer, either to munch on while you cook, or to satisfy your appetite while dinner is braising, baking, simmering or otherwise cooking. The classic choice is the cheese plate, the reliably tasty gateway to your main course. I’ve hosted a couple dinner parties at my home, and opening the evening with a cheese plate and bottle of wine almost always guarantees lively conversation because you can chat and snack at the same time, completely avoiding getting hangry while dinner finishes cooking. Here are our tips for creating the perfect cheese plate and everything you need to do it. This marble heart-shaped cheese board works for Valentine’s Day or any occasion in which you want to show off how much you love cheese (and good company).
White Marble Heart Cheese Board, $40 on williams-sonoma.com
Maybe you’re hosting a Valentine’s Day party, need to prepare baked goods for a child’s class, or you just want to surprise your honey with a few mini chocolate cakes after dinner. A “cakelet” pan lets you do just that. This festive version lets you make heart-shaped mini-cakes that you can lovingly distribute at a bake sale or a party. This recipe for Mom’s chocolate cake could easily be adjusted to fit inside these pans, or if you want to try a rich, decadent recipe for a chocolaty after dinner dessert, this Devil’s Food snacking cake looks irresistible.
Nordic Ware Conversation Heart Cakelet Pan, $36 on williams-sonoma.com