Thursday, December 15, 2016

Coeur a la Creme

Several weeks ago I mentioned a classic French dessert I serve at Christmas that I make light to keep the calories down after a heavy meal. I gave it the wrong name, Creme Brulee.
   Coeur a la Creme is the correct name. It can be made in advance and improves with age. A number of readers have asked for the recipe, so here it is with my changes to light and fat-free ingredients.
   Coeur a la Creme is most frequently formed in heart shaped molds with drain holes in the bottom. I found a five-pointed shaped wicker basket at the Dollar Store. I scrubbed it and boiled it for ten minutes to remove any manufacturing residue so it would be safe to use in food preparation.
   Neufchatel cream cheese is used instead of the whipped or fat-free cream cheese because it gives a creamier texture to the finished product. It has 1/3 less fat than regular, but new research indicates we need a few fats in our diet. I think of them as lubrication for aging joints.
  It's like when cholesterol was first indicated as a problem in heart disease all foods containing it were considered it bad. More in-depth research has shown there is both good and bad, the same is proving true for fats, but the jury is still out on amounts, types, & kinds.

Coeur a la Creme
    Makes 6 small molds, 1 large or is easily cut in half for a small family

   2 8 oz. packages of Neufchatel cheese
   10 fluid ounces of fat-free half & half
   2 egg whites

   Set out ingredients and allow them to rise to room temperature. Line molds with cheesecloth and put aside until needed.
   Gently push cream cheese through a sieve or use a food processor. Add half & half, beat into cheese until it is thoroughly blended and the mixture is smooth.

  In a medium-sized bowl (copper or glass, never plastic) beat eggs whites until they form stiff peaks. With a metal spoon, gently fold stiff egg whites into the cheese mixture.
   Spoon the cheese mixture into the cheese cloth prepared molds. Place the mold or molds on a indented plate - soup bowls or berry bowls work well to allow the excess moisture to drain. Place in the refrigerator for 12 hours or overnight.
  To serve: Invert the mold onto a plate or platter. Gently remove the cheesecloth and decorate. Nash used Maraschino cherries with crushed strawberries for the sauce, but you can use any crushed fruit, nuts, ice cream toppings, or melted jams & jellies. They can be held in the refrigerator until time to put on the table and the decorating will keep children busy while finishing in the kitchen.
   PS: I deliberately left out 1/8th teaspoon of salt as there is enough salt in the ingredients. It isn't needed.
   Have a wonderful holiday with your friends and family from out home to yours.

   Nash Black, author of Legacy of Death

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