15 June, 2010

How to make a man cry.

Okay, I may be slightly exaggerating the impact this dessert can have, but men at my table have been known to wax rhapsodic (and at length) over it. There was`probably a little mist in the eyes, come to think of it. I have been making it for years, after first tasting it at the award-winning restaurant The Inn at Little Washington, and then later happily coming across chef/owner Patrick O'Connell's version in one of my more splattered cookbooks.As raspberry season is in force even in my late-blooming garden, seems all the more timely to give this mascarpone-rich recipe a whirl. Do take the time to strain the coulis, as it's a bit of a crunchy, seed-filled disappointment otherwise. Of course, if strawberries or blackberries are closer to hand, use those for the sauce instead (I still love raspberries the most in this dish).

Since the creamy part of this very easy recipe is positively sublime just as it is, I haven't altered a thing, not ever. It remains fully Mr. O'Connell's version of the French classic. Having said this, I don't own any heart-shaped, perforated porcelain dishes, which the recipe traditionally calls for. I simply place a piece of cheesecloth in one of my smaller sieves. The love is there, even if the heart-shape isn't.

My plan is to make this with the kids for Father's Day. We're celebrating later, because the parent in question is currently AWOL, but once he's back we'll present this (with a flourish and a flurry of hugs). And I'll take a photo, to share with you. To begin with, here's the cream and mascarpone mixture just getting ready to overnight in the refrigerator.

Coeur à la crème avec son coulis de framboises (Coeur à la Crème with Raspberries)

by Patrick O'Connell, Chef and Proprietor
The Inn at Little Washington

"Coeur à la Crème is an old French concoction that is both earthy and elegant, rustic and dressy — appropriate for any occasion. It's a wonderful complement to whatever summer berries are in season. This dessert is served at The Inn to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. It can be made in less than five minutes and never fails to knock em' out — even more so than an elaborate cake that took two days to execute.

One large (16-ounce) or four individual (4-ounce) perforated heart-shaped ceramic molds lined with cheesecloth will be needed to create this dessert. The perforated molds allow the excess liquid, or whey, to drip through the cheesecloth, leaving the delicious "heart" of the cream. Coeur à la crème molds are usually available at kitchen supply stores."

Serves 4

8 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Chambord or other raspberry liqueur, such as creme de framboise
1/2 cup sifted confectioners' sugar

For raspberry sauce
1 pint fresh raspberries
2 tablespoons "superfine" granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Garnishes
fresh raspberries
mint leaves

Cut a piece of cheesecloth into four 6-inch squares. Dampen and wring out lightly. Press one square into each of four perforated heart-shaped ceramic molds and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the mascarpone cheese, 1/4 cup of the cream, the vanilla, the 1 tablespoon lemon juice and the Chambord until thoroughly blended. Refrigerate.

In a small bowl, whip the remaining 1 cup cream and the confectioners' sugar until the cream forms stiff peaks. With a rubber spatula, fold the whipped cream into the chilled cheese mixture in three batches. Spoon the finished mixture into the prepared molds and fold the edges of the cheesecloth over the tops. Lightly tap at the bottoms of the molds on the counter to remove and air spaces between the mixture and the molds. Refrigerate on a tray or baking sheet a minimum of 3 hours (or overnight).

Meanwhile, make raspberry sauce:
In a blender or food processor, purée the raspberries, granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Taste the sauce for sweetness and adjust the sugar or lemon juice as needed. Strain and refrigerate.

Assemble and serve:
Unfold the cheesecloth and drape it over the sides of the molds. Invert each mold onto a serving plate. While pressing down on the corners of the cheesecloth carefully lift off the mold. Smooth the top with the back of a spoon and remove the cheesecloth slowly. Spoon raspberry sauce onto the plate around the heart and garnish with fresh berries and mint leaves.

4 comments:

  1. "Coeur a la creme" always makes me think of Ina Garten.
    I hope you are not affected by the rain. I was watching ABC evening news earlier on; they showed few seconds of Draguignan under water. The weather has been really weird in Europe in the past few months. It could be because of the volcano. The jet stream might have shifted currents...

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  2. Hi Nadege,

    I've never tried Ina's version or any other: this one has always been so perfect.

    Thanks for asking about the rain; it has been a really weird, wet season. We weren't as battered as Draguignan, where at least a dozen people were swept away--in their cars--to their deaths. Insane flash floods.

    We were spared that degree of rain and disaster. I did spend a day trying to minimize the damage done to the dozen or so rose bushes in the garden. And I am typing this while dressed in sweater; it's past mid-June. Just another almost-summer day in the sunny south...

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  3. It is too bad about the crazy weather. You are also missing on the longest days of the year. On the bright side, "the Lakers" won.

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  4. Hi Nadege,
    We've still had some sun, so the terrace is in use. Just need some more, to get the cherries and tomatoes nice and ripe!

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