Coeur à la Crème

Posted by on Feb 12, 2013 in Desserts, Recipes | 113 comments

If food is about life, then there is probably a story for every food creation known.  Somewhere in the vicinity of 32 years ago, I wrote down 5 recipes I’d located for the ethereal dessert known as Coeur à la Crème in my now worn homemade recipe book. This must have been a chic and seemingly new dessert in the early 1980s. I must have bought the unique heart-shaped ceramic dish necessary to make this dessert, but I don’t recall when or where. The dish has holes in the bottom to let the whey of the dairy ingredients drain. Linda remembers the unveiling of this creamy white dessert at a family gathering, complete, I am sure, with strawberries and raspberries and a sauce flavored with a little bit of kirsch. I don’t. So when I moved 6 months ago, and packed up more than 20 years of kitchen paraphernalia, I almost didn’t bring the dish. But something made me wrap it up and pack it along; that, I remember, was a conscious decision amidst the chaos of boxes and bubble wrap.

When we considered what lovely offering we would showcase from our collection of world famous food for Valentine’s Day, I remembered the Coeur à la Crème dish, and I knew where it was! How wonderful to resurrect this memorable creamy dessert and for it to be chic once again. I searched online and found a number of differing recipes, some with sour cream, some with cottage cheese, or heavy cream, as well as cream cheese. I forgot about those 5 recipes I had written down, so long ago. So we went with the recipe that I am sure I made many years ago.

I’d forgotten the texture and the taste. It is a light and airy mixture, a sublime taste of non-too-sweet cheesecake without the density of a cream cheese mass or taste of a competing crust. The berry sauce is a burst of refreshment melting against that divine creaminess. It was better than I remembered.

The rest of the life story goes like this. I did some more internet research on the origin of this lovely Coeur à la Crème, translated literally as “heart of cream.” It appears that the Marie-Antoine Carême, “the king of cooks and the cook of Kings,” and father of haute French cuisine in the early 1800s for European royalty, introduced and adapted the recipe from his travels to Russia. The local significance of this, more than 200 years later, is that the Academy of Culinary Arts at Atlantic Cape Community College (ACCC), just a few miles from our home, has named their teaching restaurant Carême’s, in honor of this grandiose master chef, of which I am a student! The Academy may seem humble in its locale and surroundings, but it is worldly in every other way.

To possibly the very first celebrity chef, Marie-Antoine Carême –opulent, elegant, lavish and prolific, and to all the chefs at the Academy of Culinary Arts who, by their work, honor the restaurant’s namesake, and to everyone celebrating Valentine’s Day, enjoy this heavenly, creamy, cloud-like dessert, from our heart! And if a heart, like a circle, is an unbroken line, then I have come full circle in my life’s story.

Coeur à la Crème

Acidulated water (water and lemon juice)
3/4 pound large curd cottage cheese
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 pound cream cheese, room temperature
2-4 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
1-1/2 cups berries (raspberies, strawberries, and blueberries. Can use a mix of all and save some berries for garnish)
3 tablespoons Turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw)
1 tablespoon water

Dip piece of cheesecloth into acidulated water. Wring dry and use to line 1 quart coeur à la crème mold, allowing 2 inch overhang on all sides.

Rub cottage cheese through fine strainer or food mill.

In a medium mixing bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add cottage cheese, sugar, vanilla and salt and beat until light and creamy. Gently fold in whipped cream.

Turn in to prepared mold, smoothing over top. Cover with hanging cheesecloth. Place mold on wire rack set over a pie plate. Refrigerate at least 6 hours, preferably overnight (whey will drain, leaving the ‘heart’ off the cheeses).

For the berry sauce, add berries, sugar and water into medium saucepan. Over medium heat, stir berries until berries release their juices and liquid resembles a light syrup. Cool.

To serve, unwrap top of mold and invert onto flat serving platter; remove cheesecloth. Top with berries sauce and fresh berries.


Photos by Linda Taylor

Read More

World Famous Family Jell-O Mold

Posted by on Aug 7, 2011 in Family, Food, Recipes | 23 comments

World Famous Holiday Jell-O Mold

When we were kids, we hated this family food tradition: the Jell-O mold that showed up at every holiday occasion. It was either green or yellow, with lots of chopped up “stuff” in it. It wiggled, wobbled, and glistened, but face it? Who would eat that mixture of fruit and vegetables, encased in a brightly colored glob of lemon or lime? The worst part is that it was served with a large dollop of mayonnaise. Mayonnaise! The worst offender of these ingredients. Most of all, I remember it was made in an opaque plastic Tupperware Jell-O mold, with interchangeable sealed lids that reflected the different holidays and had an indentation with a tulip or a Christmas tree for that awful ingredient…mayonnaise. I still have my pale green Tupperware Jell-O mold, sans indented lid. But my mother still has the original.

My memory tells me that the Jell-O mold was the product of my grandmother, Ethel Haster. Surely she was in her heyday in the 50s and 60s and 70s, when Tupperware and Jell-O were on the culinary cutting edge.  She was and will always be the most creative person I know. She influenced our lives in every way with her amazing talents, whether it be knitting, sewing, needlepoint, crochet, cooking or her every day analytical approach to problems, situations, or opportunities. Her gifts are reflected in the generations that followed her, and there isn’t a time that I don’t pick up my knitting needs that I don’t think we were lucky to have had her, and grateful that we inherited many of her passions.So here’s to Gram, who lived in a simpler, non-technical time but approached everything she did with an “engineer’s mind” and a heavy-duty dose of creativity and “get-it-done” attitude.

The Jell-O mold? I’d give anything to be able to have her bring it for Christmas dinner, and would proudly place it on my table, along with whatever else I was serving, and spend the rest of the night talking to her about all the things I wish I did when she was still with us. I’d even have it with the mayonnaise.  🙂


Haster Family Jell-O Mold

1 small package Lime (or Lemon) Jell-O, if you prefer

1 cup Grated Carrots

1/2 cup Chopped Celery

1 small can or 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained

Make Jell-O according to package directions, using 1 cup boiling water and 3/4 cup cold water. Add carrots, celery and crushed pineapple. Pour into Jell-O mold and refrigerate until set. When ready to serve, dip mold inwarm water to loosen and release.

Serve with mayonnaise (if you must).

Mix chopped ingredients into semi-set Jell-O.

Pour into (preferably vintage) Tupperware Jell-O mold

Serve with mayonnaise, if you must.

Read More

World Famous Babka

Posted by on Aug 7, 2011 in Food, Recipes | 13 comments


A Family Tradition–Past, Present, and Future: Just like we remember growing up.

Polish Babka

3 pk  (1/4 oz) active dry yeast (3 tbsp)

¾ cup warm water (110F)

1 Tb plus 1 cup sugar

7 3/4 cups flour (about)

1 1/2 cup milk

1 ¼ c unsalted butter or margarine

6 eggs

2 egg yolks

1 1/2  tsp salt

1 cup golden raisins

1 egg white

Grease side and bottom of 2 10-inch tube pans.

In shallow medium bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add 1 Tbsp sugar and 1/2 cup warm flour; stir to combine. Cover; let stand in a warm place 5-10 minutes until foamy. Heat milk and butter or margarine in a small saucepan until melted. Let stand until mixture cools to warm. In a large bowl, beat eggs, egg yolks, and remaining 1 cup sugar until pale and frothy. Add cooled milk mixture, salt, and yeast mixture. Beat until smooth. Gradually beat in 4 1/2 cups flour. Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Knead dough into a soft, smooth dough. Divide dough in half. Arrange one part dough in each greased pan. Cover with a damp cloth; let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly beat egg white and brush over top of dough. Bake 50-55 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Makes two 10-inch loaves.

Read More