Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Coeur à la Crème

Sometimes you just need something sweet.
Everyone is this way at least every once in a while. Granted, some people are far less frequent observers of this little maxim than others... and "sometimes" very easily becomes "all the time" for a portion of the others.

Then again, what does it for one person may not even come close to taking care of the craving that another person has. Maybe it has to be ice cream or nothing at all for one, but maybe yogurt and honey works just fine for the other. 
But what crazy 5-year-old is going to concede that an apple will do when what they really want is chocolate or cake?

My mother always used to make sun tea, and the giant jar of sun tea pretty much had it's consistent place in the fridge. There was a bottle of liquid artificial sweetener in the top shelf of one of the kitchen cabinets that was used with the sun tea (I can't think of anything else it might have been used for). It was a clear glass bottle with a long neck and vertical ridges, a little spout and a red label. 
Of course, the best thing to do when you know there's something sugary that you're not really allowed to take, and that you can't easily reach, is to climb up on the counter and get it yourself. Why bother asking? In this instance it wouldn't have mattered in the least if I'd asked nicely. Then again, could there be a reason it was on the top shelf?

However, it wasn't anywhere near the wonderful thing it was imagined to be. It's actually really nasty chemical stuff, intense and disgusting. Well, to be fair one has to admit that it wasn't meant to be drunk straight. 
So, you've got to just put it back carefully, be grateful no one walked in and found you standing on the kitchen counter, jump off the counter, get a drink of water, and be on your way while pretending that nothing ever happened.
I guess it's good to learn lessons on your own sometimes. 
I'd much rather have real sugar... and I can't believe that a bottle of low-calorie artificial liquid sweetener really takes care of anything at all for anyone- who are they kidding? 

Coeur à la Crème is a refined type of dessert that also happens to take care of a need for sugar (it does not take care of a need for chocolate, just a need for sugar). 
This is basically a cheesecake, but better- and I would have to say lighter, too.
So, if anyone out there is worried about Lent, perhaps this could be considered prep for Easter? You have to be prepared with dessert, right? Of course. It's called advance planning.

A coeur is an elegant finish to a meal, which can be pulled out and presented last minute.
I like to serve the finished coeur whole and on a large plate. I didn't do much setup in the photo since I had to take pictures while the lighting was good, and dessert wasn't actually eaten until it was pretty much dark outside. The sauce is served in a bowl alongside the coeur or poured around the outside so the coeur sits in a pool of crimson berry sauce. Fresh strawberries also make a nice accompaniment. People can serve themselves- just remember that it's rich!

Coeur à la Crème
serves 8

10 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 c whipping (heavy) cream
pinch of salt
1 c powdered sugar (confectioners' sugar)
zest of 1/2 lemon (best if zested directly into the cream)
seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean
2 t vanilla extract

Berry sauce:
2 c blackberries, raspberries, or strawberries (or a mix), either fresh or frozen
1 c blackberry or raspberry jam (if I use blackberries for the sauce, I like to use raspberry jam and vice versa)
1/3 c water
1/2 c sugar
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 T fruit liqueur, such as Chambord or Cointreau (optional)

Line a coeur mould (or a footed colander) with two layers of cheesecloth that you have dampened under cool water and wrung out. Make sure there is excess cheesecloth hanging over the sides of the mould and place the mould on a pan with sides.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, cream, and salt on low speed for a few minutes until relatively homogenous. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle attachment, remove the paddle attachment and replace it with the whisk attachment. To the cream mixture, add the sugar, lemon zest, vanilla seeds, and vanilla extract. Whip several minutes on medium speed until thick and creamy. Transfer the mixture to the prepared mould, making sure it is evenly distributed throughout. Fold the extra cheesecloth over the top of the cream mixture, cover the coeur with a plate and top with a couple cans to weight it down (I like to aim for 1 1/2 lb or so). Refrigerate the coeur on the pan overnight.

To make the sauce:
Bring the berries, sugar and water to a simmer over medium heat. Cook about 3 minutes, so the berries begin to break down a bit, stir in the jam, and cook about 1 minute longer. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the jam mixture into the bowl of a food processor. Process the mixture until the berries are completely incorporated. Add the lemon juice and liqueur and blend to incorporate. Refrigerate the sauce until ready to use.
Makes about 2 3/4 c sauce.
(*Any extra sauce can be used with plain yogurt, ice cream, in smoothies...)

When ready to serve, unwrap the top of the mould and remove the mould from the pan. Place a large plate upside-down over the top of the coeur, and while holding both tightly, turn it so that the plate is right side up and the mould upside-down. Carefully lift the mould from the coeur and pull the cheesecloth off the surface of the coeur.


  1. I think I will make this for my Easter dessert!
    Thanks for recipe and how to.
    Also, I would like to resurrect your horchata recipe to make again soon.

  2. I would like horchata right now...

  3. This dessert is so very special and so unexpected!