The perfect dessert on a hot summer day, Coeur à la Crème (also called crémets) is made of whipped crème fraîche lightened with meringue, then left to drain in cheesecloth. Often the mixture is molded in a heart shape (coeur). In the Loire Valley, where this dessert is most popular, you will find porcelain molds, pierced with holes for drainage, in several sizes. An inexpensive alternative is to poke holes in a metal cake pan, heart shaped or a simple round. To provide a sweet, even fluffier contrast, the mold is traditionally served with crème Chantilly and, most important of all, fresh berries arranged in a necklace around the heart.
Line the mold(s) with cheesecloth. Whisk the chilled crème fraîche in a large bowl by hand or using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until the cream holds soft peaks. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff. Stir about one-fourth of the egg whites into the crème fraîche to lighten it, then fold the crème fraîche into the remaining whites. Spoon the mixture into the mold(s), filling well into the corners, and cover with plastic wrap. Set the mold(s) on a tray to catch the drips and place in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. The fresh cheese keeps well for up to 36 hours, setting more firmly and acquiring more taste.
An hour or two before serving, make the crème Chantilly. Turn the large mold out onto a flat serving dish or the individual molds onto dessert plates and peel off the cheesecloth. Arrange the berries around the edge like a necklace. Serve with separate bowls of sugar and the crème Chantilly.
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