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Edith Bourgault’s coeur à la crème dishes are hand-cast from fine porcelain and are pretty enough to put on display.Signe Langford/The Globe and Mail

Never be afraid to offer your heart up on a platter, especially on Valentine's Day, and especially when it's rich and delicious and slathered in sweet raspberry sauce. The origins of coeur à la crème, made in perforated, heart-shaped moulds, is fuzzy, but the Anjou region of France claims it as their own. Quebec ceramic artist Edith Bourgault's coeur à la crème dishes – hand-cast from fine porcelain – are not only made for this dessert but are pretty enough to spend the rest of the year on display. And while we encourage using the right tool for the job, a cheesecloth-lined colander will also do the trick. $48/set of two moulds.

Vanilla Bean Coeur à la Crème

In France, this dish is traditionally made with fromage blanc, which is hard to find outside of Europe. We use easy-to-find – and decadent – mascarpone. In a pinch, quark or cream cheese will do.

Makes 4 individual moulds or 1 family-size heart and about 2 cups compote


1 vanilla bean

3/4 cup 35 per cent or whipping cream

1 tbsp icing sugar

5 oz room-temperature chèvre or soft goat cheese

5 oz mascarpone

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup runny honey

Raspberry Ruby Port Compote

2 cups raspberries (frozen wild berries have the best flavour)

1/4 cup runny honey

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup ruby port

Cut as many pieces of cheesecloth as you'll need to line the moulds in a double layer, with extra draping over the sides to cover the filling. Rinse cheesecloth in cold water and wring dry. Line the moulds with the cheesecloth, place onto a platter and set aside.

With a sharp paring knife, split one fresh vanilla pod lengthways down the centre. Scrape out the inner paste and add to a large bowl. Add the whipping cream and icing sugar and, with an electric beater, whip the cream to soft peaks; set aside. Save the scraped bean pod for the compote.

In a large bowl, with an electric beater, blend the chèvre, mascarpone, lemon juice and honey until very smooth. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the cheese mixture until well combined.

Add the cheese-and-cream mixture to the prepared moulds and cover with the overhanging cheesecloth. Set aside in the fridge to drain and firm up for at least 4 hours, though overnight is better.

While the moulds are setting up, make the compote. Into a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the raspberries, honey, lemon juice, port and leftover scraped vanilla bean halves. Bring to a simmer, stirring often; you may need to decrease the heat to medium-low.

Simmer for about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool, then cover and refrigerate. Remove the vanilla bean before serving.

To serve, peel the excess cheesecloth off the top of the heart, set a plate on top of the mould and invert.

Carefully lift off the mould and gently peel away the rest of the cheesecloth; inspect for stray cotton threads. Spoon compote onto the plate and offer more in a small pitcher or gravy boat.