“Obviously, you have to have an artistic bent when doing pastry,” says Rick Griggs, executive pastry chef of San Francisco’s elite Taste Catering and a painter at Art Explosion Studios in the Mission. Although he rolled out pie dough long before wielding a paintbrush, Griggs notes: “Things have always been visual for me.” Here are five of his edible artworks to savor this season.
1. Neapolitan Coffee Cake
“I am a sucker for old-fashioned cakes that my grandmothers would make for their church functions,” Griggs says. He created this Neapolitan cake with Neapolitan ice cream (a childhood favorite) for a Taste cookbook, but—ever the artist—adds he’s “still perfecting it.”
2. Peanut Butter Cup
Griggs won’t take credit for this Reese’s-inspired confection, on Taste menus “for many years,” he notes. But his texture-enhancing additions of a crunchy feuilletine (wafer ﬂake) and gianduja (hazelnut milk chocolate) to the original’s dark chocolate shell and milk chocolate peanut butter ganache are likely why it remains “a constant favorite,” he says.
3. Meyer Lemon Meringue Éclair
Another alteration of a previous recipe, Griggs’ version features a graham shortbread base (“like a lemon meringue pie”) and housemade candied Meyer lemon peel. The delicate meringue and pâté à choux shell contrast with the creamy ﬁlling and crunchy crust. “This is a multitextural dessert,” Griggs says.
4. Raspberry Pavlova
The artist chef’s “take on a traditional Pavlova” is layered between two Pavlova meringues, with kisses on top and a ﬂat disk on the bottom adding dimension, Griggs says. Other innovations: powdered raspberry dust to the meringue “for color and ﬂavor,” he notes, as well as housemade raspberry rhubarb jam.
5. Neapolitan "Ice Cream" Cones
Griggs also reinvents his childhood favorite (“the best of three worlds”) to avoid the mess of actual dripping ice cream at formal gatherings. He pipes three ﬂavored mousses into a chocolate-dipped wafer cone, then serves them frozen, like ice cream. “Mousses are essentially the same ingredients as ice cream, just a diﬀerent preparation and more stable,” Griggs explains. “Sometimes, we add dehydrated fruit meringues for a special touch.”