Coeur a la crème, a rich and impressive heart shaped French cream dessert served with a red berry & Grand Marnier sauce, is easy to make for Valentine’s Day and can be prepared days in advance. Raspberries or strawberries are the traditional garnishes, but chocolate shavings or molded chocolate roses also make a pretty presentation.
Coeur a la crème is made in white porcelain molds with tiny holes in the bottom to allow the excess liquid in the sweetened cheese to run off as it chills. Molds are available in specialty kitchen stores or from Amazon. They come in two sizes, a seven inch that serves six and individual four inch molds. If you don’t have a mold, Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten suggests you make a round Coeur in a seven inch sieve lined with cheesecloth and suspend it over a bowl to drain in the refrigerator. James Patterson in Glorious French Food makes individual round Coeurs by molding the cheese in cheesecloth lined muffin tins, pulling the cheesecloth up over the tops of each and transferring the wrapped cheese to a cake rack to drain overnight in the refrigerator.
For our Coeur, we followed a recipe from Ina Gartin’s Barefoot in Paris cookbook with raspberry sauce. Ina says the recipe was inspired by friend Anna Pump from her Loaves & Fishes Cookbook. Anna flavored the sauce with Framboise, a French raspberry eau-de-vie, and suggested garnishing the Coeur with either fresh hulled strawberries or strawberries dipped in chocolate.
The Coeur recipe is simple, includes only six ingredients and is quickly combined in the bowl of an electric mixer or a hand-held mixer will work too. The mixture goes into the heart shaped mold that has been lined with cheese cloth so the excess liquid can drain away. It can sit in the refrigerator for a day or so. To serve, unmold the cream on plate, drizzle with the berry sauce and garnish with fresh berries. Or you can ring the Coeur with raspberries and serve the sauce on the side so everyone can help themselves. It makes a nice amount of sauce. Voila, as the French say. It can’t get much easier than that. I suggest sitting close to your valentine and sharing this special dessert with the one you love.
Coeur a la Crème with Raspberry and Grand Marnier Sauce
The Food Network & Barefoot Contessa in Paris, by Ina Garten
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean (or use good vanilla extract)
Raspberry and Grand Marnier Sauce, recipe follows
2 half-pints fresh raspberries (one for garnish)
Mint sprigs for garnish, if desired
Place the cream cheese (at room temperature) and confectioners' sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a bowl with a hand-held mixer) and beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the beater and bowl with a rubber spatula and change the beater for the whisk attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add the heavy cream, vanilla, lemon zest, and vanilla bean seeds and beat on high speed until the mixture is very thick, like whipped cream.
Line a 7-inch sieve with cheesecloth or paper towels so the ends drape over the sides and suspend it over a bowl (preferably into a Coeur a la crème mold), making sure that there is space between the bottom of the sieve and the bottom of the bowl for the liquid to drain. Pour the cream mixture into the cheesecloth, fold the ends over the top, and refrigerate overnight.
To serve, discard the liquid, remove the top layer of cheesecloth, invert the Coeur onto a plate and remove the mold, then remove the remaining cheesecloth, and drizzle with raspberry and Grand Marnier sauce (recipe below) around the base. Serve with raspberries and extra sauce. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs if desired.
Raspberry and Grand Marnier Sauce
1 half-pint fresh raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup seedless raspberry jam
2 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier)
Place raspberries, sugar, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 4 minutes. Pour the cooked raspberries, the jam, and orange liqueur into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until smooth. Strain to remove seeds if desired. Chill. Yield: 2 cups.