Coeur A La Creme: Getting to the Heart of Things this Valentine’s Day

by Laura on January 28, 2013

in Featured, In Season, Preparing

CoeurALaCreme

Simple to make, and delightful to eat, the Coeur a la Crème is a classic French dessert made with a few simple ingredients and topped with fresh fruit, making it a great way to celebrate Valentine’s Day – or any day – with a loved one.

The French call it coeur à la crème (or heart of cream). It is a rich and creamy dessert that is believed to get its start in the French countryside way back in the Middle Ages. Most likely born out of efficiency, and the desire to use all ingredients on hand, the dairymaids discovered that when the whey drained from the milk during traditional cheesemaking, the remaining curds could be mixed with leftover cream to create a delightfully light and fresh cheese that was made even more tasty when topped with the sweetness of the fresh fruits of the season.

The dessert is relatively inexpensive to make, featuring only a few ingredients, and just a bit of preparation time.   Using only cottage cheese, cream cheese, and heavy cream, which are then mixed and placed in a mold lined with cheesecloth so it can drain, the creamy treat is ready to eat in a few hours — although some Coeur a la Crème makers like to prepare this two days ahead of time to allow for the proper draining, and melding of the flavors of the dairy used.

Essential to the process is the draining of the liquids from the cheeses. The dairymaids of old used a strainer or colander to do the trick, but today, it is traditional to prepare it in a heart-shaped Coeur a la Crème mold. Made of porcelain and perforated at the bottom to allow the ‘whey’ to drain, and the curds to remain, the Coeur a la Crème mold is lined with cheesecloth or kitchen paper, and set above a pan or bowl in the refrigerator for a few hours, before it is ready to enjoy.

Molds vary in sizes, but the individual 4” (15 oz.) molds are a great way to serve up a romantic treat for two on Valentine’s Day, or even for individual servings at a dinner party.

This fresh cheese creation is delightful when created in the classic heart-shaped mold, and served as a complement to afternoon tea, alongside a cup of coffee for dessert, or a glass of wine for a romantic, and creamy, way to top off a Valentine’s Day meal with your loved one.

Quick and easy to create, here is an old-fashioned Coeur à la Crème recipe that will delight anyone this Valentine’s Day.

Old-Fashioned Coeur a la Crème

  • 1, 8 oz. container of whipped cream cheese
  • 1, 8 oz. container of cottage cheese, farmer cheese, or ricotta
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 container of fresh berries, washed
  • or, 1 package of frozen berries, thawed.

1. Blend the cream cheese with cottage cheese, and slowly add the heavy cream. This can be done by hand or in a food processor.

2. Line the Coeur a la Crème mold with cheesecloth or kitchen paper and pour in the blended cheese.

3. Place the mold over a bowl (to catch the draining whey), the slip it into the refrigerator, and chill for at least four hours.

4. Once firm and draining is complete, unmold the cheese by carefully turning it top-side-down on the serving platter.

When ready to eat, it is traditionally served with fresh berries or jam, but can also be topped with a chocolate sauce. Or, you can sweeten things up a bit by mixing a bit of sugar, vanilla and a fruit liqueur to create a fruit sauce that will accompany fresh berries. If desired, the Coeur a la Crème can even be served as an appetizer, and topped with savory seasonings or herbs.

However you serve it, the Coeur a la Crème is a perfect treat for Valentine’s Day, yet can be enjoyed all year round.

This article was originally written for, and appears on, HIC Kitchen.

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