6.23.2018

Special Equipment Required

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Have you ever flipped through a magazine and come across a recipe that calls for a specific implement, pan, or other piece of equipment?

What do you do? Do you turn the page in search of a recipe that uses equipment you already have? Do you find a substitute implement? Or, do you run to the store and get the whatnot? I have done all of the above, and (truthfully) all for a single recipe.

Coeur à la Crème. Decades ago, I saw a recipe in Bon Appétit and wanted to make it. It required a coeur à la crème mold. I was a poor musician, so I turned the page and looked for another recipe. (Note: I saved the recipe for the future.)

The thought of the recipe, however, was stronger than my willpower and I really wanted to make it. What could I substitute for the mold? The issue at hand was that the official molds have holes in the bottom for draining. Nothing else did...

I found a 6-inch round baking tin in the basement of the house I was renting. It had belonged to my landlord’s wife. I asked if I could buy it from him, knowing full well he would give it to me. Which he did.

I took a hammer and nail to it and made my own holey mold. The finished dessert was not coeur-shaped, but it worked great. Eventually, though, I bought the real thing for a Valentine dinner I was having. It has been a favorite dessert ever since...

Recently, I was in an antiques shop and saw a stack of French individual-serving coeur à la crème molds. Oh, did I want them! But at $18 a piece (and they were new!) I told myself I could live without them.

Well, at least until I got home and found myself still obsessing about them. Online I went, and found them for $3 each. They were in hand in 3 days.

So who cares that mine aren’t made in France? They work, and the finished hearts look beautiful on the plate!

I hope you enjoy these individual lemon-lavender hearts. They use the lemon curd I made last week before, and some lavender extract friends Ruth and Jay brought us from Lavender Wind on Whidbey Island.

~ David

Coeur à la Crème au Citron et Lavande
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup lemon curd
1/3 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted to remove lumps
1/2 teaspoon lavender extract (or vanilla, if you don't have lavender)
1 16-ounce bag frozen mixed berries
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Chambord or Grand Marnier


Cut four pieces of cheesecloth (triple thickness) about 8 inches square. Rinse well to remove sizing and squeeze to damp-dry. Line four individual coeur à la crème molds and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese on high speed until light and fluffy. Add 2 tablespoons of the heavy cream and beat to lighten the cheese.

Add the lemon curd, confectioner's sugar and lavender extract to the cream cheese mixture and beat to blend, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go.

In a clean bowl with clean beaters, beat the remaining 1/2 cup of cream until it reaches soft peaks. Fold it into the cheese/lemon mixture until no streaks are visible.

Divide mixture among the four prepared molds and wrap overhanging cheesecloth over the top, pressing down lightly to ensure the mixture if conforming to the mold. Put molds onto a plate to drain (the reason the mold has holes!) and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or over night. (Note: this recipe didn't drain any liquid.)

Make the sauce. Put berries, sugar and liqueur in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 10 minutes. Force the berry mixture through a fine sieve and discard seeds and skins. Refrigerate the sauce until ready to use.

Unmold the coeur onto dessert plates and drizzle sauce around the sides. Decorate with edible flowers and mint leaves.






34 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Caroline! It tastes as good as it looks!

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  2. So incredibly divine, David! I know I've come across recipes that required a certain piece of hardware in order to make them. My middle aged memory can't think of them right now, but it will come to me.

    There's actually a Croatian cookie I've been wanting to make for years, but it requires a specific mould, like these coeur à la crème. Do you think I remembered to find it when we were in Croatia last year? Completely forgot.

    In the meantime, let me just sit here and admire your gorgeous creations!

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    1. I can completely believe you forgot to get the cookie mould because I do that all the time! Thanks for your sweet comment, John...

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  3. I can just imagine the wonderful taste of the citron coeur de la Crème with the refreshing fruit sauce. Delicious!

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    1. The next time I served it was with fresh berries and that worked well, too, Gerlinde!

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  4. I am in Poland,on tour and found a booth in the marketplace with the embossed rolling pins! YES!

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    1. Oh, lucky you! Those rolling pins are so beautiful! I have one and cover many, Cathy!

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  5. Love coeur a la creme and I often look at my 24 little molds feeling slightly guilty that I have not made it in a long time. there is a lovely recipe in E David called le cremets: basically double cream + beaten egg white... a cholesterol inducing treat, but still a treat. Debora Madison has nice variations too in her books (one with ricotta for instance)
    lovely summer dessert: I might go out and buy some decent cream and make them myself. thanks D
    stefano

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    1. Ooh, Stefano... now I have mould envy! I only got six... ;) I have a good friend who makes hers with ricotta and it is very good but very different. I will have to look up Elizabeth David’s recipe - sounds worth trying!

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  6. Looks yummy, David. Glad your obsession prevailed!

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    1. Thanks, Kirsten! My obsessions always seem to prevail! (Ask Mark!)

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  7. In my secret life I cook with edible flowers :-) Thank you for the beauty !

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    1. I love that you have a secret life! And, that it includes edible flowers!

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  8. Yum! I first read about Coeur a la Creme years and years go and I have always told myself that I would make this someday. Now I don't eat dairy products anymore but a little tiny rebellious part of me wants to do it just once! Hmmm...maybe I will.

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    1. You might just have to try this Caterina! ;)

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  9. I'm a page flipper. I don't like devices that do one thing and one thing only. However, in this case I might have to go all "Macgyver" and formulate some sort of mold of my own. Does it have to be heart-shaped? Could it be Poulet à la Crème? For some reason I have a chicken-shaped mold that as far as I know serves no purpose at all. GREG

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    1. I think a Poulet à la Crème would be just ducky, Greg. You have a good point... maybe I need to figure out multiple uses for these molds!

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  10. These desserts sure look pretty! In my younger years, I wouldn't dare part with my money to buy expensive gadgets, but now have been known to drop $30 a piece for copper Cannalé molds- your recipe looks easy- no flour or leavening!

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    1. Oh, Fran... I almost got those copper canelé molds! But first thought... other than a decoration, would I really use them? So I bought a metal mould and am making myself try them first before investing in the copper!

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  11. Looks yummy! But once again your cookware upstaged the dish, at least for me. Love those measuring spoons... !

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    1. I must admit to a meaning spoon (and cup) collection that is a bit embarrassing, Frank! Knowing you aren’t a dessert fan makes your compliment all the more meaningful!

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  12. I love the sound of this, anything with lavender in is always welcome on my table!

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    1. Me, too, Caroline! Yesterday, someone showed me an amazing dinner event she is attending to celebrate the Lavender bud harvest. Every course had lavender used in the most creative ways!

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  13. David, that is just gorgeous. And, yes, you "needed" that particular bit of equipment! I "have done all of the above" as well. Oddly enough I'm still perfectly content, most days, to make madeleines in my English mince pies/jam tarts tin.

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    1. Jean - I never thought I “needed” madeleine pans until someone gave me her antique French ones... who knew? I actually “needed” them! My favorite part of making madeleines is brushing the molds with the browned butter and flour mixture.

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  14. Yes, I did the same thing with my madeleine pan--waited (and thought about it) for years before buying. I'd buy these molds in a minute (but not at $18 ea)!

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  15. These look lovely, David!

    I obsess on special equipment sometimes, too! I think it's part of the cooking gene! I am also like you in that if there's a ridiculous pricepoint, it just isn't going to happen. I went to a Swiss tourism event here in LA last year and they were serving Tête de Moine on a girolle! I was on a mission and came home to google both the girolle and the cheese. Buying both online would have set me back about $150! I put it out of my mind as it was crazy.

    One or two months later I was at a boot sale in England and lo an behold, I find a brand new girolle in a box (unused) for £2! I ran with it! I was over the moon! Then another month later, I was in Barcelona and decided to look for the cheese: yep, they had it for about 20 euros! Love it when things like that happen!

    I'm telling you lots of stories tonight! ;)

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    1. I love all the stories, Christina! My girolle was a gift from a young couple I knew from Switzerland who were living in Massachusetts. Yes, the cheese is expensive but once a year I don’t mind! Just make sure it isn’t too ripe!! also, we discovered that you can use P’tite Basque!

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  16. Absolutly stunning, and yes I have done all the above in the past. I do try and stop myself from buying special equipment unless I can justify that I will use it enough. I could be tempted by these though ;)

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    1. I was tempted, I bought, AND I justified! :)

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  17. Dear David, what a perfectly pretty dessert! Now Coeur à la Crème is a dessert that I have made following a Dorie Greenspan recipe. I had to search quite a bit for a proper mold - but it was worth it. Dorie's recipe is a vanilla version though. Your recipe looks like a true summertime treat.
    Andrea

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    1. The lemon is truly special, Andrea. I will have to check out Dorie’s recipe!

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