First of all, Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you who celebrate it! May you all be with your loved ones today and share a special meal and bottle of wine or two!
I usually don’t go in for cheesiness in the kitchen, pardon the pun. It’s probably because I’m not creative enough to think of cheesy things to do. (Although I have been known to put on quite a children’s Halloween party in the old days!) But it’s just not like me to make everything heart-shaped just because it’s February.
This is my one exception, however, because it’s already heart-shaped! So I can make and serve this, blaming it all on the white porcelain ramekin in the shape of a heart. After all, Coeur à la Crème means heart of cream – this is roughly translated. So it’s really meant to be heart-shaped.
And, it’s really good. There are many different ways to make this dessert, using marscapone or cream cheese, farmers’ cheese, ricotta, or cottage cheese, and even yogurt. Here is my delicious version:
Coeur à la Crème
1 – 17.6 ounce carton Fage 2% Greek yogurt*
8 ounces cream cheese
5 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Empty the carton of yogurt into a colander lined with cheesecloth or paper towels. Let it sit for 4 – 6 hours. You will notice that a significant amount of liquid has strained from the yogurt. That’s why this step is important before you begin with the recipe.
When the yogurt has strained, place it in a medium bowl. Add the remaining ingredients.
Slowly at first, using an electric mixer, mix up the cheese until smooth. Scrape down the bowl once and keep mixing. It should take about 5 minutes. Taste the cheese and make sure you like the flavor. I like it a bit off-sweet. If you prefer it sweeter, add a little more powdered sugar.
Wet about a 20″ square piece of muslin or cheesecloth and wring it out very well. Then lay it over the ramekin and form it into the heart shape. Gently place the cheese into the ramekin.
Smooth it out on top, and tap it a few times to make it settle.
Wrap up the ramekin with the overflowing cheesecloth, then set the ramekin on a plate lined with paper towels. Cover the ramekin with a paper towel, and then put everything in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.
When you are close to being ready to serve, unfold the cheesecloth from the ramekin, then turn the Coeur upside down on a serving plate, and finish removing the cheesecloth.
If you like, smooth out the cheese with a knife. Personally, I like the texture the cheesecloth makes on the cheese. Let the cheese warm a little before serving with your sauce of choice, whether it be fruit-based, or chocolate.
If you’re interested, my sauce is made from strawberries and apricots. I made it last year to layer in individual breakfast yogurt parfaits I made for my friend, for people staying at her house. It was made simply by cooking strawberries and apricots together with a little sugar and lemon juice. It was not sweet like a jam, but sweetened nonetheless. I had a frozen jar left over, so I thawed it, pureed and strained the sauce, and served it with the Coeur à la crème. It was perfect, and I love the color!
* If you wanted to be really decadent, use goat’s milk yogurt – but it will require more time straining.
note: Besides vanilla extract, there are many choices for flavoring. Citrus zest can be used, different extracts, as well as liqueurs such as Chambord or Grand Marnier. It’s all a matter of taste, and what you’re serving your Coeur à la Crème with, sauce-wise!