Valentine's Day is coming up fast.
The history of Valentine's Day is obscure and clouded by various fanciful legends. "The holiday's roots are in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, a fertility celebration commemorated annually on February 15. Pope Gelasius I recast this pagan festival as a Christian feast day circa 496, declaring February 14 to be St. Valentine's Day.
Which St. Valentine this early pope intended to honor remains a mystery. There were at least three early Christian saints by that name. One was a priest in Rome, another a bishop in Terni, and of a third St. Valentine almost nothing is known except that he met his end in Africa. Rather astonishingly, all three Valentines were said to have been martyred on Feb. 14.
Most scholars believe that the St. Valentine of the holiday was a priest who attracted the disfavor of Roman emperor Claudius II around 270. At this stage, the factual ends and the mythic begins. According to one legend, Claudius II had prohibited marriage for young men, claiming that bachelors made better soldiers. Valentine continued to secretly perform marriage ceremonies but was eventually apprehended by the Romans and put to death. Another legend has it that Valentine, imprisoned by Claudius, fell in love with the daughter of his jailer. Before he was executed, he allegedly sent her a letter signed "from your Valentine." Probably the most plausible story surrounding St. Valentine is one not focused on Eros (passionate love) but on agape (Christian love)... he was martyred for refusing to renounce his religion."
Gradually, February 14 has become the date for exchanging love messages and St. Valentine, whomever he is, became the patron saint of lovers. February 14th is marked by sending poems and simple gifts such as flowers to the one you love....hint...hint.....
What a better way to show them your love than to make up something sweet and sinful. This is a rich and creamy dessert that seems to be delegated to Valentine's Day in our household. This particular recipe is a combination of Ina Garten's, the Barefoot Contessa herself, with , as they say, a little tweaking of my own. I have the cutest little coeur a la creme molds for making this dessert. I simply cut the recipe in half to accommodate my number of guests if I have to. I love to make this dessert even in the summer because it requires no stove time at all!!!!! Perfect and so sinfully good. Perfect for a sultry summer day as well...even the sauce is uncooked!!!!
I am entering this into the event "A Heart for Your Valentine" by its founder Kochtopf. Look for the round up and delicious Valentine entries here . Valentines Day is not just for chocolates...but I can have those too!!
**Coeur a la Creme with Raspberry and Grand Marnier Sauce**
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 -1/4 cups icing sugar
2 -1/2 cups cold heavy cream
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
Line 6 (1/2 cup) coeur a la creme molds with double thickness of dampened cheesecloth, extending beyond edges to enclose filling completely. A coeur a la creme mold has holes in the bottom to allow liquid to drain.
Place the cream cheese and icing sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the beater and bowl with a rubber spatula and change the beater for the whisk attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add the heavy cream, vanilla, lemon zest, and vanilla bean seeds and beat on high speed until the mixture is very thick, like whipped cream.
(The Barefoot Contessa lines a 7-inch sieve with cheesecloth or paper towels so the ends drape over the sides and suspend it over a bowl, making sure that there is space between the bottom of the sieve and the bottom of the bowl for the liquid to drain. Pour the cream mixture into the cheesecloth, fold the ends over the top, and refrigerate overnight). What I do for this recipe is spoon 1/2 cup of cheese mixture into each prepared mold. Fold cheesecloth over tops. Place molds on a rack set over a pan and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
To serve, discard the liquid, unmold the cream onto a plate, and drizzle Raspberry and Grand Marnier Sauce around the base. Serve with raspberries and extra sauce.
**Raspberry and Grand Marnier Sauce**
1 (12-oz) bag frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed, reserve juice
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier)
Drain raspberries, reserving juice. Puree berries with 1/3 cup sugar in processor. Press through a fine sieve into a medium bowl to remove seeds. Add just enough reserved juice and Grand Marnier to thin puree to sauce consistency. Cover and refrigerate. Chill.
Yields 2 cups
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