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Lifestyle

February 7, 2014

A sweet heart to charm a Valentine

Decadent cheese dessert a fine end to a romantic meal

Valentine’s Day when I was growing up was never about chocolates; we lived on a windy Cape Cod lane lined with cranberry bogs. The chocolate choices in those days were two: Schraffts cardboard hearts from the drug store and Russell Stover boxed chocolates ordained as gifts for hospital patients.

My mother made Coeur a la Creme, which even as a child I knew was far more decadent, far more sublime than the chocolates being peddled as Valentine’s fare. I know now that there are as many Coeur a la Creme recipes are there are hearts to win, but it is basically a lightened, sweetened cheese mixture — goat cheese, ricotta cheese, cream cheese — placed into a traditional Coeur a la Creme mold.

The mold alone is enough to charm anyone who spends time in a kitchen.

Heart-shaped, ceramic, the mold has holes that allow the “cheese” to drain, becoming a cool, sweet, pillowy dessert that cries “cloak me in raspberries, strew me with flowers.” Chocolate can only wish to charm the eyes and lips as gloriously as Coeur a la Creme.

The molds are not hard to find; Amazon has plenty, but a simple kitchen colander substitutes perfectly, minus the Valentine’s-ness of having this ceramic heart on your kitchen counter for the week of Feb. 14th. My recipe is loosely adapted from Ina Garten’s.

Coeur a la Creme

Makes enough to fill one coeur a la creme mold (4 generous servings plus four more)

Equipment

Cheesecloth

Coeur a la creme mold, colander, or sieve

Ingredients

6 ounces goat cheese

6 ounces creme fraiche

1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners sugar

2 1/2 cups cold heavy cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean

Raspberry and Grand Marnier Sauce, recipe follows

Fresh raspberries and blackberries or edible flowers to garnish

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