|Coeur a la Creme with a Raspberry Grand Marnier Sauce|
I'm ahead of the game!
Typically, I'm barely on top of it all, or just about maintaining things, let alone ahead. But, finally, I'm about a week early, or at least a few days early for those that will celebrate Valentine's Day this coming weekend.
If you do plan on making something special, this grand, creamy heart-shaped dessert has become a favorite of mine, especially at this time of year. The appeal is in the lovely presentation, no doubt, along with the flecks of vanilla bean seeds and lemon zest throughout the milky white cream, but its luscious, refreshing qualities cannot be denied. Drizzled with a grand marnier raspberry sauce, this Coeur a la Creme is a beautiful addition to any table.
For an idea of what this tastes like, well, it far surpasses cheesecake in my mind. In taste, absolutely, but also in how dramatic the entire process is. From the unwrapping of the cheesecloth, to the unmolding of this classic French dessert, it is like opening a very special present. While eating it, you may actually close your eyes and linger over each dreamy spoonful. You can't help but savor the subtle hints of lemon zest and vanilla, while scooping up a bit of sauce each time as well. (The raspberry sauce does compliment the dish well, but it is also very good served on its own, with no dressings. Or simply pair it with a drizzle of honey, or some lavender and honey, especially come spring.) This may also save you from some dishwasher duties, as the past three times I've served it, it was eaten family style with a bunch of spoons from the center of the table.
So, eat your heart out this Valentine's Day. Literally.
Coeur a la Creme with Raspberry and Grand Marnier Sauce
(adapted from Ina Garten)
*12 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
*1 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
*2 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
*2 tsp pure vanilla extract
*1/2 -1 tsp grated lemon zest (I always add more. I love the zing and zip it adds to the cream)
*seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
*Raspberry and Grand Marnier Sauce (recipe below)
*2 half pints fresh raspberries
Equipment: I really don't like when special, fancy equipment is required for a recipe, especially when you may use only a few times a year, but I really wanted to try this out a few years ago. I found my Coeur a la Creme heart-shaped dish at a restaurant or baking supplies store, but have also seen it for under $10 on amazon.com and ebay.com. I will also say that I have used the dish more times than I can count, which I think makes for a worth-while purchase. Although, due to the amount of cream this recipe makes, I needed to use a medium thin-wire strainer to form and shape some extra cream at one point (before I bought these adorable mini heart-shaped dishes for any of the extra) and when it's lined with cheesecloth, it serves the same purpose as the dish- minus the heart shape. It's then just a dome of cream dotted with raspberries, in a pool of sauce. Not so bad, either!
Place the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer (or do like I did and just use your hand mixer. My "Proctoro Silexo," purchased at some bodega, somewhere back home, works just fine) and beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the beater and bowl with a rubber spatula and change the batter for the whisk attachment (or again, just keep beating with your hand mixer, it has turned out just fine without these steps). With the mixer on low speed, add the heavy cream, vanilla, lemon zest and vanilla beans 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, 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 place in the refrigerator overnight.
To serve, discard any liquid that may have dripped into the bowl, unmold the cream from the cloth or paper towel and invert onto a serving plate. Drizzle with the Raspberry and Grand Marnier Sauce around the base. Decorate and serve with raspberries and extra sauce.
Raspberry and Grand Marnier Sauce
*1 half-pint fresh raspberries
*1/2 cup sugar
*1 cup seedless raspberry jam
*2 Tbsp orange-flavored liqueur (I buy a nip of 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. You can then process this mixture in a food processor, but I have found it all breaks down enough on the stove, that a smooth-enough sauce has formed. This recipe will make about 2 cups.
Chill the sauce before dressing the Coeur a la Creme.