Tuesday, February 11, 2014


I’ve been busy working on an exciting project (more on this soon!), so this post is going to be shorter than normal. But of course it’s important to take the time to pause and celebrate Valentine’s Day. 


I’m a tulip girl more than a rose girl,

and Chris knows he can never go wrong with an assortment of chocolates from my favorite local chocolatier Daily Chocolate.

We're also looking forward to going to the French restaurant Café Shelburne this Friday night. Café Shelburne has been around since 1969, but it recently has come under new ownership and local foods are now front and center. The new chefs both previously worked at the venerable Shelburne Farms, so I have high hopes. But since a Valentine’s Day post post-Valentine’s Day is no fun, I’m offering up for those of you who are celebrating the holiday at home a special dessert to try out: Cœur à la Crème.

This classic French dessert is just what its name “heart of cream” suggests:  creamy , luscious, and heart-shaped.  It may look complicated to make, but it’s really not, and if you’re cooking and baking averse, it involves neither of those activities. The process reminds me of making cheese and the results taste kind of like fresh cheesecake, so if you like cheesecake, you’ll love Cœur à la Crème. 

Typically, a red sauce made from macerated strawberries or raspberries accompanies it, but since creativity is a necessary ingredient to a favorable Valentine’s Day, feel free to mix it up with something different like passion fruit or drizzled dark chocolate. Or you can make the whole thing chocolate with the addition of cocoa powder. I made this one in a traditional heart-shaped French basket so ridges are visible, but I like its rustic charm.

As with anything, the better the ingredients the better the flavor, so my Cœurs à la Crème are à la Vermont. I use Champlain Valley Creamery organic cream cheese and Cabot sour cream, resulting in rich, fresh flavor and a smooth, not gummy, consistency. And in the sauce I use Vermont-made Cassis (I like Lincoln Peak, but alas they're all sold out). The only complicated thing about making Cœur à la Crème is that you need to have on hand the heart-shaped molds, either the footed porcelain kind or the basket kind (harder to find) . They can be purchased at kitchen stores or online, so you just need to plan ahead. Save the spontaneity for other aspects of the celebration.

Cœurs à la Crème (à la Vermont)

Serves 2 (3 to 4 inch heart molds)

for the cœurs:
2 10x10-inch squares cheesecloth—dampened
4 ounces Champlain Valley Creamery organic cream cheese at room temperature
4 ounces Cabot sour cream
1½ tablespoons powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt

for the sauce:
8 ounces strawberries (hulled and quartered)
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of Vermont-made Cassis

To make the cœurs, line each mold with 1 piece of cheesecloth. In a medium bowl, beat together the remaining ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth and well combined. Spoon the mixture into the molds. Fold the cheesecloth over top and gently press down to distribute the mixture evenly. Place the molds in a baking dish and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for at least 4 hours or overnight. 

To make the sauce, stir together the strawberries, sugar, and Cassis in a small bowl. Let the berries macerate for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Carefully lift the cœurs out of the molds and unwrap them. Invert the cœurs onto plates (they should be fairly firm). Smooth out any rough edges with your finger. Spoon the strawberry sauce over top and around the cœurs before serving.

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