Always Easy, Always Elegant: Coeur a la Creme with Strawberry Raspberry Grand Marnier Sauce

Coeur a la creme by candlelight...very romantic!

Coeur a la creme by candlelight…very romantic!

True. This is certainly a go-to recipe for Valentine’s Day, and this is the dessert I made for my Valentine. But this oh-so-versatile and easy dessert really shouldn’t be reserved for just once a year. It’s cool and creamy—nice for those hot months. It’s pretty impressive looking and can be made ahead—great for company. And best of all, you don’t have to cook a thing to make it! At least not for this version.

You’ll find more variations on this not very sweet, but very elegant French dessert than you can “shake a stick at!” Whether you choose to use cream cheese or mascarpone…sour cream, whipping cream or crème fraiche (or even yogurt!)…vanilla bean or vanilla extract…a coeur mold, or no mold at all—the truth is, it’s hard to go wrong! And just about the same thing can be said of your sauce in that you can substitute your favorite berry or berries, liqueur or no alcohol, jam or no jam. It’s all good!

This take on Coeur à la Crème is dead easy. The hardest part is forcing the mixture through a sieve before you mold it, and even that isn’t too difficult. So why wait for the next Valentine’s Day to roll around before you give this dessert a try? Year round, it’s a beautiful winner of a dessert for any occasion…or no occasion at all.

Coeur à la Crème (Heart with cream)
4 to 6 servings

12 oz. good quality regular cream cheese at room temp
4 oz. light sour cream (I like to use half light and half regular sour cream to lighten the dessert)
4 oz. regular sour cream (or use 8 oz. creme fraiche instead of sour cream if you’re feeling really decadent!)
4 Tablespoons confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
3/4 teaspoon Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

For the sauce:
6 oz. fresh raspberries
1 1/2 cups of sliced fresh strawberries, plus one strawberry cut into a fan for garnish
3 Tablespoons of granulated cane sugar, or more to taste if the fruit is too tart
2 Tablespoons Grand Marnier
1 teaspoon lemon juice

1- 2 cup Coeur à la crème mold, or a fine meshed sieve (this will make a domed shaped dessert)

In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sour cream, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla and the lemon juice with a hand mixer on medium high speed until it’s smooth and fluffy. Using a stiff spatula, force the cream and cheese mixture through a fine meshed sieve to remove any lumps. Cut a single layer of cheesecloth to fit your mold, or if not using a mold, a clean fine meshed sieve. Dampen the cheesecloth with water and squeeze out any excess moisture, then line the mold or sieve with the cheesecloth. Transfer the cream and cheese mixture to the mold, spreading evenly and smoothing the top. Cover the top with the edges of the cheesecloth, pressing down lightly, and set the mold on a plate, or the sieve over a bowl, to catch any drips. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to two days ahead, or for at least for 6 hours before serving.

To make the sauce, in a medium bowl combine 1/2 of the raspberries, 1/2 of the strawberries, all of the sugar, lemon juice and Grand Marnier. Mash the berries and other ingredients together until there are only small bits of fruit. Add the remaining whole raspberries and strawberries and gently toss with the rest of the sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 8 hours before using, stirring occasionally.

To serve, pull back the cheesecloth from the top of the coeur, then unmold the coeur carefully onto a serving plate and gently peel off the remaining cheesecloth. Allow the coeur to stand at room temperature for 10 – 15 minutes, then decorate with a sliced and fanned strawberry, present it whole at the table and then portion onto dessert plates, serving the berry sauce spooned on top of each portion. Ooh, là, là!

There's something about the texture of the cheesecloth and the holes in the mold that I find charming!

There’s something about the texture of the cheesecloth and the holes in the mold that I find charming!