Coeur à la Crème is a classic French dessert that means “heart of cream”, perfect for Valentine’s Day, given that it’s heart shaped and not too heavy a dessert. Because you don’t really want to get weighed down with too much food on Valentine’s night, do you? Just sayin’!
While it’s great for V-day, don’t let the heart shape stop you from serving it at other times, I especially love serving them in the summer, along with panna cotta and cheesecakes; great summertime desserts! It’s one of those recipes that is very, very easy to put together, much like Panna Cotta, and has the added advantage of being a make ahead dessert; don’t you just love make ahead recipes?
It’s taste: creamy, with just a hint of sweet, perfectly complimented by the slightly tart berry coulis.
You don’t really need a recipe. All you need is a little soft cheese, some sort of cream, a touch sugar and a little lemon juice. The recipe is called “heart of cream” for a reason. Besides the shape, the lemon juice helps “loosen up” the cheese a little and what you’ll have during the resting period is the whey draining out of the tiny wholes at the base of the heart-shaped moulds (see picture of them below). That leaves you with the “heart” of the cream, full of flavour! Get it?
I learnt this recipe a long, long time ago, while staying with some friends in Paris. Apparently, “in the old days” in France, the dairy farmers would make this fresh and sell it along the streets, much like the mobile ice cream trucks of today, or the street vendors of yesterday. When my hosts were little and living on the outskirts of Paris, they used to get excited each time they saw the white cap of the lady bringing them their fresh Coeur à la Crème on her weekly visits, and would always try to convince their mum to get enough for a couple of meals. I used to love these visits, not just for the homemade meals I enjoyed but also the family stories. In turn, I would tell them about life in Singapore and Malaysia, my granny’s food business and how we were all involved at very young ages.
Going back to today’s recipe, traditionally, this is served with a berry coulis, specifically, strawberry or raspberry, going well with the Valentine theme but I have served it with chocolate sauce, butterscotch and salted caramel, all perfect in flavour, but you will have to take into account how the cold Coeur à la Crème will affect the consistency of these sauces and adjust them accordingly.
Handy Hints for Coeur à la Crème
Any soft cheese: cream cheese, mascarpone, quark, ricotta. Any cheese that’s not smooth, like quark, will have to be zapped in a blender or pushed through a strainer. I love mascarpone and that’s what I love using for this.
Egg or no egg
I’ve had these in family owned eateries in France where they have been fabulously lighter than usual, although not holding their shape as well. The secret behind this is egg whites, whipped to the stiff stage. I prefer to do without, as this is an uncooked dessert and I have 2 girls with egg allergies.
If you’d like to try the egg version, halve the cream in this recipe and substitute with 1 small egg white, beaten with 1 tsp sugar to the stiff stage and incorporate into the cheese mixture at stage 4 with the cream.
First thing: this recipe is for moulds measuring roughly 9cm x 9cm.
If you fancy getting yourself a couple or a few of these, they’ll always come in handy. If you don’t want to bother with that, a cheese making mould is perfect or line a sieve with muslin and place the whole cheese mix into that. Fold over and leave to drain in a saucepan in the fridge. The next day, turn it out onto a plate, decorate as in step 9 and share the dessert. Even more romantic!
Be sure to check out my Valentine’s Day Page for more ideas!
Coeur à la Crème is a traditional creamy French dessert of mascarpone cheese, perfect for Valentine's Day.
- 100ml double cream (thick cream)
- 100g mascarpone
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp caster sugar
- half tsp vanilla paste (or good quality extract)
- You will also need 2 small muslin squares/cheese cloths
- Raspberry or strawberry coulis
- Fresh raspberries or strawberries
- Small basil or mint leaves
- Rinse the muslin cloths, squeeze dry and line the moulds with them, letting them overhang on the sides.
- Using hand held beaters, beat the cream until the soft stage. Be careful here and run at low speed at the end, because it's a very fine line between the final soft stage to the stiff stage. Set aside.
- With the same beaters, cream the mascarpone, lemon juice, sugar and vanilla until well mixed and smooth.
- Gently fold in the cream in 2 additions and mix well.
- Spoon this cheese mix into the individual moulds or whatever you're using, flattening the top.
- Tap the moulds on the table a few times, to level out and release any trapped bubbles and fold the muslin over, as in picture.
- Place the moulds on a baking sheet or a tray and place in the fridge overnight or for a minimum of 6 hours.
- About 10-20 minutes before serving, turn them out and let them rest at room temperature. I find this allows the flavour to come through better.
- Spoon some coulis and decorate with fruit as you wish, some mint or basil will go nicely as well, for colour and flavour contrast
6 hours chilling time.