Hmm...pink food that isn't covered in fuzz because it was forgotten in the hinterlands of the fridge (I know there's a passage to Narnia back there). The only (intentional) experience I've had with pink food so far was the homemade yogurt experiment.
As usual, my first plan of attack was built on lunacy. Some day I will actually embrace Sun Tzu's teachings. But in the kitchen, my approach is sometimes the culinary equivalent of engaging in a land war in Asia (apologies to Mr. Goldman). I had an elaborate plan involving Carl Fabergé, the Duchess of Marlborough and the 1902 Serpent Clock egg. Greg quickly restored me to reason after I described my vision:
Greg: "I'm sorry, you just sounded completely insane."
Me: "Which part? The pink food blog event? The Fabergé Egg part? The Consuleo Vanderbilt thing?"
Greg (nodding): "Yes."
The lack of an egg shaped mold and the realization that my paycheck doesn't come from playing for hours in my kitchen (yet) suggested something simpler. And, having spent entirely too much time in the last two weeks testing red velvet cake recipes, I am caked out. No more flour.
Searching the cabinets for some inspiration, I came across several heart shaped molds. I hadn't made coeur à la crème in a long time. Coeur à la crème means "heart of the cream," so called because the cheese and cream mixture is drained of its whey overnight, producing a firm cheese dessert. I had coeur à la crème for the first time in 1987, when I was living in Grenoble, in the south of France. Tata Michelle made it for dessert one night and I thought the texture was absolutely marvelous - light, smooth, creamy. It does require a special perforated mold (lined with cheesecloth), but is otherwise ridiculously easy to make. I would love to be educated on its origins -- so if anyone knows coeur à la crème's history, please do comment. In any case, making a heart shaped dessert is apropos to both the event, and the person(s) for whom it is dedicated.
It's for a little boy who padded into his chemo-stricken mother's room to pat her on the head, his childish attempt to soothe an imitation of her actions when he felt poorly; it's for the boy who ripped flowers from the hospital garden to bring them to his mother in her isolation room at the hospital, roots and all; it's for the same little boy who encouraged his mother to embrace a stranger suffering in the same manner, providing both women with a sweet moment of solidarity.
This dessert is dedicated to his mother, a breast cancer survivor, who has become an impossibly dear friend; and whose spirit and verve remind me that every moment is a gift and a joy.
Coeur à la Crème
special equipment: coeur à la crème molds, available at some Williams Sonoma or specialty kitchen/cooking stores
1 cup ricotta cheese or mascarpone cheese
1 1/4 cups whipping cream
1/3 cup confectioner's sugar
1 T vanilla extract
Line individual molds with fine cheesecloth.
Press the cheese (if using ricotta cheese; skip this part if using mascarpone) through a fine sieve into a large bowl.
Whip the cheese, 1/4 cup of cream and vanilla until well blended (if you wanna make it pink, now is the time to add 1-2 drops of pink food coloring). In a separate bowl, beat the remaining cup of cream with the confectioner's sugar until stiff peaks form. Lightly fold the whipped cream into the cheese mixture.
Spoon the mixture into the molds, tapping the molds gently to make sure there are no air bubbles. Place the molds on a tray and refrigerate overnight (or at least 4 hours) to allow the whey to drain.
To serve, turn out each mold onto a plate and serve with a chocolate or a fruit sauce.