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Coeur a la Creme

The literal translation of Coeur a la Creme from the French is Heart with Creme. It is a beautiful dessert with many tasty variations for its filling.

Porceliain Coeur a la Creme MoldThe Commissary Recipe
Makes six 3" molds

First, prepare six 3" coeur a la creme wicker baskets or porcelain molds:

From 4 thicknesses of cheesecloth, cut 6 square large enough to line the molds and still have a 2" margin.
Soak the squares in a mixture of ice water, 1 tbsp lemon juice and a pinch of baking soda.
Leave to soak until after you have prepared the filling, then wring out the cheesecloth squares and line the molds.

Then prepare the filling:

1/2 lb cream cheese
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
1 cup heavy cream

Beat cream cheese until light and fluffy.
Continue beating and add powdered sugar, and scrapings from the vanilla bean.
Carefully fold in whipped heavy cream.

Spoon the filling into the lined molds and fold the excess cloth over the tops.
Stand on a rack in a jelly roll pan, and chill 2 hours.

To serve, unmold and unwrap each heart onto a grape leaf or doily.

Serve with the following sauce:

Slice 2 cups strawberries
Sprinkle with about 1/4 cup framboise, Grand Marnier, or kirsch
Toss with 1 cup seedless raspberry jam
Chill at least an hour

CheeseclothCoeur a la Creme with Sauce
Makes 6 servings

5 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1½" piece vanilla bean or ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ cup confectioners sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 pint strawberries
¼ cup sherry
¾ cup currant jelly

Soften the cream cheese and beat with an electric beater.
Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the cheese.
Continue beating, adding the sugar gradually.
Whip the cream until stiff and fold it into the cheese.
Rinse out six pieces of cheesecloth in cold water and use them to line six small coeur a la creme molds.
(Or one large piece of cheesecloth to line the large mold.)
Spoon equal portions of the cream mixture into the molds.
Bring up the overlapping ends of the cheesecloth and fold lightly over the top of each portion of cheese.
Chill thoroughly.
Meanwhile, trim and rinse strawberries.
Blend the wine and jelly and cook over low heat, stirring, until blended and smooth.
Combine with the strawberries.
Unmold the cheese onto chilled dessert plates and serve the strawberries and Creme Fraiche on the side.
Pass around a sugar bowl for those who wish it.

Creme Fraiche
Makes about 1 cup

1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon buttermilk

Combine the cream and buttermilk in a jar with a screw top.
Secure the top and shake the mixture for a second or two.
Let the mixture stand 8 to 12 hours, or until the cream is lightly thickened.

Porceliain Coeur a la Creme 6" MoldHayes' Coeur a la Creme

This is my favorite recipe for this rich, delicious dessert. It can be prepared in only a few minutes, and lends itself to both a moment of spontaneity as well as a planned dinner party. It can be made up to two days in advance, if desired.

Because of its versatility, it can be served plain, with fresh fruit blended in (my favorites are strawberries and peaches), and it can be made more elaborate with the addition of complementary flavors, like mandarine oranges and a topping of piped chocolate.

One 8 oz package cream cheese
8 oz heavy cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Combine ingredients in the workbowl of a food processor using the metal blade until smooth. If using fresh or canned fruit, drop in a handful and pulse until blended but not pureed.

Line an appropriate mold with dampened cheesecloth, spoon the mixture into the mold, then fold the cheesecloth over the top. Refrigerate 15 minutes or up to 2 days before serving.