This is for anyone who needs a quick Valentine dessert that isn’t chocolate. It’s a little like cheesecake without the crust; complete with a red wine-caramel sauce and strawberries. Traditionally, coeur a la creme is made in a heart-shaped mold, but it’s easy to do in a fine-mesh sieve. Just give it a few hours to drain and it will be ready to serve. The strawberries are very special. There’s nothing like a soak in spiced red-wine caramel sauce to perk up “winter” berries. Altogether it’s a delicious pairing, fit for your favorite dinner companion.
Coeur a La Creme with Caramelized Strawberries
(serves 4 to 6)
For the Coeur a La Creme:
6 ounces fresh, soft goat cheese
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup honey
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
For the Strawberries:
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 cup red wine
3 whole cloves
2 black peppercorns
1 2-inch piece cinnamon stick
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped, seeds reserved
3 cups strawberries (about 1 1/2 pints), hulled and halved lengthwise
To make the coeur a la creme: Soak two 12×12 inch pieces of cheesecloth in cold water and squeeze dry. Put a 7 inch coeur a la creme mold in a baking dish or set a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl; line the mold or the sieve with the cheesecloth, allowing the corners to drape over the side. Set aside. With a whisk or a hand-held mixer, whisk together the goat cheese, cream cheese, and honey until very smooth. In another bowl, whisk together the heavy cream and confectioner’s sugar just until soft peaks form. Gently fold the cream into the cheese mixture until evenly combined. Spoon the mixture into the mold or the sieve and fold the corners of the cheesecloth over the top. Allow the mixture to drain for at least 2 hours, or overnight, in the refrigerator.
To make the strawberries: In a 12-inch skillet stir together the sugar, corn syrup, and a 1/4 cup of water over medium-high heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the syrup is light golden, about 4 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and carefully add the wine, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, and vanilla bean with seeds. (It will bubble up like a caramel; watch out for spatters). Return the pan to the heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 3 minutes. Add the strawberries, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, occasionally stirring gently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
To serve: Fold back the cheesecloth corners and invert the coeur a la creme on to a serving platter; remove the mold and the cheesecloth. Arrange the strawberries and sauce around the rim of the plate.
(from Saveur Magazine)