Anything that’s called “heart of cream” is guaranteed to be a winner. I mean, seriously. I love my carbs, but I’d die without dairy. And this creamy, decadent dessert fulfills all of my dairy desires.

Cœur à la crème is a heart-shaped cream-based dessert that is perfect for Valentine’s Day. Forget the heart part – you don’t have to have a special mold for this, a strainer will do just fine – it’s just perfect. It’s creamy and sweet without being cloyingly sweet, and it pairs fantastically with berries, chocolate, and champagne.

Once, long ago, before I started cooking regularly, I saw a cooking show that featured this dessert – and I was fascinated. I couldn’t imagine how it would taste. It looked like a very light cake – but how could that be with no flour, no baking, no cake-related anything. At the time, I had no inclination to make it myself, but I was thrilled to see a recipe for it included in Dorie’s book. And even more thrilled when it was voted in for the week of Valentine’s Day.

I really wanted to make this recipe. I just never got to it, because I thought it would be complicated.

It’s not. It’s really not.

This recipe is simple to throw together – so simple that I didn’t take many pictures of the process. It just wasn’t all that interesting, but it was fast and it was easy.

One note: the recipe called for framboise and a homemade raspberry coulis, but I opted out of that. For one thing, raspberries were not to be had at my local grocery, and I’m not keen on working with frozen ones, especially when fresh strawberries are readily available and on sale. I definitely want to try this again with raspberries, though, because raspberries are easily my favorite berry and I bet this would be terrific with them. But strawberries made a decent substitution, so there’s nothing to complain about there.

Besides, I think strawberries are more suited to Valentine’s Day. The season is right, the shape and color are right, and who can resist the temptation of a beautiful ripe strawberry? Particularly when matched with cream.

Cream cheese is beaten into velvety smoothness, then combined with powdered sugar and beaten again. In went vanilla and some strawberry rum for another beating. This combination was creamy and delicious enough on its own, but then it’s made even better by the addition of unsweetened whipped heavy cream.

Oh, heaven.

This delightful mixture is then spooned into the awaiting molds and wrapped up in cheesecloth to spend the night in the fridge.

heartmold

creaminmolds

There’s not much that can go wrong here, unless you’re worried about the cream setting properly. The idea is that the unmolded dessert maintains its heart shape. I actually didn’t have any worries about this. My cream mixture was fairly solid, and it conformed to the mold quite nicely. When I checked it the next morning, no liquid had drained out of it, but it had firmed up and looked beautiful. And smelled delicious.

I made a Dorie-dinner for Valentine’s Day. From Around My French Table: twenty-minute duck breasts and pommes dauphinoise. This was quite an adventure, in more than one way, and the meal did not turn out quite how I wanted it to. But it was delicious, and it was very nice for the evening, and I’ll tell more about it tomorrow when I post my (new) weekly dinner wrap-up. This post is all for the cœur à la crème.

The hearts unmolded beautifully. No mess, no fuss – just a beautiful white heart delicately cross-hatched with the pattern of the cheesecloth. The chopped red berries accented the heart perfectly.

strawberrieswithcreamheart

I could have served it like this, and it would have been delicious. But I’d had two pints of strawberries to play around with, and this heavenly beauty needed something to make it really sing. Instead of a raspberry coulis, I made a strawberry one.

I went for an uncooked version: twelve ounces of fresh strawberries were hulled and quartered and thrown into a blender. A little water, a little sugar, a little clementine juice (because I had no lemons). A quick blitz, and then through a strainer it went. It wasn’t as thick as I would have liked (too much water, I guess), but it tasted awesome and that was way more important. It went into the fridge to await its moment of glory. It was still  a little thin, but when drizzled over the hearts, it looks so pretty and full of promise.

coeuralacreme

Oh, heaven.

This was better than I imagined it would be. I thought it would be heavier, more cheesecake-like. But it’s light. It’s so light. The whipped cream gives it this airy etherealness that makes it feel like you’re eating a strawberry-scented cloud. It’s a decadent dream, and it performs all its magic without making you feel weighed down. I realize that it can’t be in any way healthy for you, but it’s so good that I just couldn’t bring myself to care.

Also, it had strawberries. So it could have been worse, right?

Geordie said he couldn’t taste the strawberry rum very well (I could), and he would have liked a chocolate syrup to drizzle on top. I can’t argue with that, but all of the chocolate in the pantry is reserved for Tuesday’s boca negra, and I don’t buy chocolate syrup from the store (because, ew), so we went without. Honestly, these hearts don’t need any chocolate. They are delightful as is.

But chocolate wouldn’t hurt.

I loved this recipe. Loved it. I will make it again. I will probably try Ina Garten’s recipe sometime in the future. I will be serving it for Valentine’s Day for years to come. It’s exactly the kind of dessert I want after a meal full of duck and potatoes, exactly the kind of dessert I love: a lovely, airy dessert that still has all the creaminess I crave. This is fabulous.

To see how the Doristas received this dream of a dessert, check out the links at the French Friday site. And if you adore creaminess the way I do, give this dish a try. You won’t be disappointed.