Fur Babies and Food


As I snuggle deeper into my warm blankie with Smudge, my favorite fur baby on my lap, the day outside is grey – not rainy, but with that certain gloom that seems designed to make me muse on this month traditionally devoted to the theme of love.

This February we add the extra day, perhaps to make us more appreciative of the years when it is not present. And yet, perhaps it adds yet another space of twenty-four hours to feel more cogently aware of those around us whom we do love.

A poet once asked the question: “how do I love thee?” There are more ways to answer that question than the ones she wrote of. In my kitchen, it’s usually answered with food of some nature – cookies, cakes, pies (heart shaped) and dotted with red glitter or covered with raspberry jam, made as my special way to say “I love you!”

In the early years of my life with Les, although I was a newbie cook, I decided to make something truly exotic for me at that time. It seemed appropriate to make a “coeur a la creme”, a confection of French origin which requires a heart-shaped ceramic mold with a perforated insert, sour cream, cream cheese, fresh raspberries, and cheesecloth.

Since I was awaiting the birth of our first child and had some extra time on my hands, it seemed an appropriate time to “show” my love for my husband by making this special dessert.

Looking in my pantry and refrigerator, I determined quickly that I had very few of the necessary ingredients. I did have cream cheese and powdered sugar, but no sour cream, raspberries, or a heart-shaped mold. What was a tyro cook to do? Substitute! Off I went on my culinary adventure. Improvisation is the mark of a great cook, I thought. Later in the day I realized that often this does not work. Instead of sour cream, I used whole milk; instead of lemon juice, I used vinegar. Rather than lining my non-existent heart-shaped mold with cheesecloth (not in my pantry), I used paper towels and a cake pan.

After my improvised mixture was ready, I thought “not bad”, even though there was a slight off-taste and it didn’t seem very thick. Plugging on, however, I carefully placed the mixture onto the top of the paper towels and tried to make a heart shape. How I wanted to impress my love on Valentine’s Day!

Many years later we laugh about my failed coeur a la creme, but on that day I could only cry as after the required chilling time (four hours) my shaped heart was a soggy failure to which the paper towels clung like a popcorn ceiling. And, more horror, it did not even taste good! With the correct equipment and ingredients, however, this can be an excellent dessert – not too sweet and creamily melting on the tongue. With the addition of fresh raspberries or strawberries – delicious. I can tell you, however, that the recipe for my marriage has proved ever and ever to be a successful one.

I cannot improve on a recipe for coeur a la creme by Ina Garten.



Coeur a la Creme & Raspberry

12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
Raspberry and Grand Marnier Sauce, recipe follows
2 half-pints fresh raspberries


Place the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the beater and bowl with a rubber spatula and change the beater for the whisk attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add the heavy cream, vanilla, lemon zest, and vanilla bean seeds 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 refrigerate overnight.

To serve, discard the liquid, unmold the cream onto a plate, and drizzle Raspberry and Grand Marnier Sauce around the base. 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 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur (recommended: 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. Pour the cooked raspberries, the jam, and orange liqueur into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until smooth. Chill.

Yield: 2 cups

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/coeur-a-la-creme-with-raspberry-and-grand-marnier-sauce-recipe.html?oc=linkback