We based this classic French heart-shaped dessert on a recipe from our friend Wes Martin. A perforated coeur a la creme mold is traditionally used to form the heart shape, though a mesh sieve makes a fine substitute for the mold.
FOR THE COEUR À LA CRÈME
- 6 oz. fresh goat cheese
- 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 1⁄3 cup honey
- 3⁄4 cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp. confectioners' sugar
FOR THE STRAWBERRIES
- 1⁄2 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp. light corn syrup
- 1⁄2 cup red wine, preferably pinot noir or zinfandel
- 3 whole cloves
- 2 whole black peppercorns
- 1 (2") cinnamon stick
- 1⁄2 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise and scraped, seeds reserved
- 3 cups strawberries (about 1 1/2 pints), hulled and halved lengthwise
Make the coeur a la creme: Soak two 12" x 12" pieces of cheesecloth in cold water and squeeze dry. Put a 7" heart-shaped coeur a la creme mold into a baking dish or set a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl; line mold or sieve with the cheesecloth, allowing the corners to drape over the side. Set aside.
With a whisk or hand-held mixer, whisk together the goat cheese, cream cheese, and honey until very smooth. In another bowl, whisk together the cream and confectioners' sugar until soft peaks form. Gently fold the cream into the cheese mixture until evenly combined. Spoon the mixture into the prepared mold or sieve and fold the corners of cheesecloth over the top. Allow the mixture to drain for at least 2 hours, or overnight in the refrigerator.
Make the strawberries: In a 12" skillet, stir together the sugar, corn syrup, and 1⁄4 cup water over medium-high heat. Cook, swirling pan occasionally, until syrup is light golden, about 4 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and add wine, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon, and vanilla bean with seeds. Return pan to heat and cook, stirring constantly, until sugar is completely dissolved, about 3 minutes. Add strawberries, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, occasionally stirring gently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
To serve, fold back the cheesecloth corners and invert the coeur a la creme onto a serving platter; remove mold and cheesecloth. Arrange the strawberries and sauce around the rim of the plate.