Valentine's Day Coeur à La Crème Recipe

Valentine's Day is the perfect excuse to try your hand at a fancy dessert you may not have attempted before. While show-stoppers like creme brulée and chocolate souffle get all the fanfare, coeur à la crème is a classic French dessert that has a certain elegance and sophistication that other desserts can't touch. This crustless no-bake cheesecake is perfect in its simplicity: rich and delicious with just a touch of sweetness. And though it requires some time to set, it's quite simple to make.

While the base of mild creamy cheese doesn't vary too much from recipe to recipe, the sauce that accompanies it can change to suit different flavors. Recipe developer Taylor Murray chose a strawberry and blood orange sauce, lightly flavored with vanilla bean. The combination of these two fruits utilizes in-season winter citrus with a Valentine's Day classic: the heart-shaped strawberry. The bright sweet-tart flavors of strawberry and blood orange, as well as their vibrant rosy color, provide a pleasing contrast to the creamy heart itself. Dotted around the heart are segments of fresh, juicy blood orange, which just beg to be nibbled with bites of the creamy coeur à la crème.

Gather the ingredients for coeur à la crème

The heart of the coeur à la crème is a mixture of various soft cheeses, plus a bit of sugar and cream. For this particular recipe, we are using mascarpone, a sweet Italian cream cheese, and ricotta. To accompany the creme, we're also making a strawberry blood orange sauce using these two fruits, a bit of sugar, and some vanilla bean paste. Vanilla extract can be substituted for the vanilla bean paste in equal amounts, if necessary. 

Step 1: Add all the dairy to a bowl

Add the mascarpone, ricotta, cream, pinch salt, and 1 tablespoon sugar to a large bowl.

Step 2: Whisk the cheeses

Whisk until smooth.

Step 3: Prepare the molds

Set 2 large heart-shaped cookie cutters over a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet.

Step 4: Line the molds with cheesecloth

Line each cookie cutter with cheesecloth. Alternatively, use a coeur à la crème mold lined with cheesecloth.

Step 5: Add the cheese mixture

Spoon the cheese mixture into the cookie cutters and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator.

Step 6: Start the strawberry sauce

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the strawberries, blood orange juice, vanilla bean paste, and remaining sugar. Add about ⅔ of the blood orange segments.

Step 7: Simmer the sauce

Bring the mixture to a boil then simmer until it's syrupy and tiny bubbles appear in the liquid. Let it cool slightly.

Step 8: Blend the fruit sauce

Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend until smooth.

Step 9: Strain the sauce

Strain through a fine-meshed sieve. Set aside.

Step 10: Plate the cheese hearts

When ready to serve, transfer the cheese hearts to small plates.

Step 11: Smooth the hearts

Spread the hearts lightly to smooth the edges if needed.

Step 12: Add the sauce

Spoon the strawberry sauce around the hearts.

Step 13: Add the blood orange

Scatter the remaining blood orange segments around the hearts. Serve immediately.

What kinds of cheeses can you use for a coeur à la crème?

Coeur à la crème traditionally employs a variety of cheeses as its base. The choice of cheese largely depends on the desired consistency and flavor profile of the Coeur à la crème. The most common choice is cream cheese, which is valued for its smooth texture and mild flavor and often serves as the primary cheese component. For a more authentic and nuanced flavor, French Neufchâtel can be used: It's similar to cream cheese but offers a slightly grainier texture and a more pronounced taste. For a surprising twist, you could opt for a more unconventional cheese like goat cheese. This tart and tangy cheese would add a pronounced but delightful flavor to this dessert.

Additionally, some recipes might call for a combination of these cheeses, or, as in this recipe, incorporate ricotta, which adds a light, slightly grainy texture, and a subtly sweet flavor. Though this recipe simply calls for heavy cream, you might find recipes that add a tangier element with the addition of sour cream or crème fraîche.  

Do you need a special mold to make this recipe?

The classic coeur à la crème mold is a distinctive piece of kitchenware specially designed for making this traditional French dessert. It is characteristically heart-shaped, in keeping with the romantic theme of the dish (the name "coeur à la crème" literally means "heart of cream" in French). The mold is usually made of porcelain or plastic and features a series of small holes at the bottom. These holes are crucial for the dessert's preparation, as they allow whey and excess liquid to drain from the cheese mixture, resulting in a firmer, more concentrated dessert.

If you don't have one of these molds, there are a variety of workarounds. As in this recipe, you can use a heart-shaped cookie cutter set over a wire rack and lined with cheesecloth. If you don't have any heart-shaped cutters, any shape will do (as long as you don't mind compromising the romantic theme). You can also use a fine mesh sieve, in which case you'll end up with a more dome-shaped result.

Valentine's Day Coeur à La Crème Recipe
4.9 from 16 ratings
Simple, elegant, and subtly sweet, this romantic dessert pairs a creamy coeur à la crème with tart, juicy, vibrant strawberry and blood orange sauce.
Prep Time
8.33
hours
Cook Time
10
minutes
Servings
2
Servings
Two plates of soft cheese hearts
Total time: 8 hours, 30 minutes
Ingredients
  • 2 ounces mascarpone (about ½ cup)
  • 4 ounces ricotta (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Pinch salt
  • ¼ cup sugar, divided
  • 1 ½ cup sliced strawberries
  • 4 blood oranges, segmented and juice reserved
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Directions
  1. Add the mascarpone, ricotta, cream, pinch salt, and 1 tablespoon sugar to a large bowl.
  2. Whisk until smooth.
  3. Set 2 large heart-shaped cookie cutters over a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet.
  4. Line each cookie cutter with cheesecloth. Alternatively, use a coeur à la crème mold lined with cheesecloth.
  5. Spoon the cheese mixture into the cookie cutters and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator.
  6. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the strawberries, blood orange juice, vanilla bean paste, and remaining sugar. Add about ⅔ of the blood orange segments.
  7. Bring the mixture to a boil then simmer until it's syrupy and tiny bubbles appear in the liquid. Let it cool slightly.
  8. Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend until smooth.
  9. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve. Set aside.
  10. When ready to serve, transfer the cheese hearts to small plates.
  11. Spreading the hearts lightly to smooth the edges if needed.
  12. Spoon the strawberry sauce around the hearts.
  13. Scatter the remaining blood orange segments around the hearts. Serve immediately.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 702
Total Fat 38.5 g
Saturated Fat 23.0 g
Trans Fat 1.3 g
Cholesterol 135.3 mg
Total Carbohydrates 78.8 g
Dietary Fiber 8.9 g
Total Sugars 58.6 g
Sodium 501.5 mg
Protein 16.9 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Rate this recipe