Monday, August 15, 2011
Another challenge met!
By Suzanne McMinn at Chickens in the Road
This month, as part of my ever adventurous cheese challenge for New England Cheesemaking, I’m taking part in NEC’s month-long celebration of the Cheese Queen’s wedding with the sweet, the delicious, and the romantic Coeur a la Creme. (Note: Ricki and Jamie were married August 21, 2011.)
By the way, do you think the groom gets to be the Cheese King now? Or the Cheese Prince Consort? Will they cut the cheese instead of the cake? Will they drive away in a cheesemobile? Will they honeymoon on the Isle of Brie and be hand-fed crackers by Keebler elves? Do these and many other such questions explain why I have no wedding invitation? Were you invited? No? Ricki? Ricki! We love you! Oh never mind.
But, hark! Lo and although we have no ticket to the cheese castle, we can take part in the fun! It all starts with fromagina, Ricki Carroll’s own unique soft cheese concoction. Fromagina is a cross between fromage blanc and mascarpone. It delivers a rich, creamy cheese that is perfect for sweet and savory spreads as well as dessert recipes. It’s also sinfully simple to make. (Fromagina comes as a direct-set culture and is available from New England Cheesemaking.) It’s a perfect soft cheese to use for Coeur a la Creme in these adorable heart-shaped molds.
We’re headed here:
calcium chloride directly to the milk when you put it in the pot. Do NOT use ultra-pasteurized milk.
How to make Fromagina:
1 gallon whole milk
1 direct-set packet fromagina starter
Heat the milk to 86 degrees (F). Add the starter packet and stir to mix thoroughly. (The culture itself includes rennet, so no additional rennet is required.)
butter muslin and hang to drain for 6-12 hours, or until you achieve your desired consistency. (Less hanging time for a creamier cheese, longer for a more dry cheese.)
Now for the fun part–the Coeur a la Creme! Which means we get to play with heart-shaped molds! Heart-shaped anything is not just for Valentine’s Day. It’s for weddings (such as the Cheese Queen’s), engagement parties, birthdays, anniversaries, a romantic dinner, or just for kicks.
Note: Coeur a la Creme traditionally includes the use of raw egg whites, which is a concern for many people today. According to the American Egg Board, egg whites do not readily support bacterial growth (as yolks do). However, to be safe, you can cook the whites with sugar, beating over hot water or on low heat until soft peaks form. (Without sugar, the whites will coagulate too fast. The recommendation is two tablespoons sugar per egg white.) Check the temperature as you beat the whites–they must either slow-pasteurize at 145 degrees for 30 minutes (a bit long for beating, but humidity is not a meringue’s best friend, so the double-boiler method does take some time) or fast-pasteurize at 165 for 30 seconds. If you’re not comfortable with home pasteurization, you may also use either liquid or powdered pasteurized egg white products, or buy pasteurized eggs.
Always remember and never forget that egg safety is of particular importance for young children, pregnant women, and the elderly.
If you want to home pasteurize your whites, here is how I do it, based on the above guidelines.
You can use this technique for any recipe you may have that calls for raw beaten egg whites folded into a mixture that will not be further cooked (such as frostings). FYI, for recipes that include a liquid wherein the egg whites can be combined (such as a hollandaise sauce or homemade mayonnaise), you can pasteurize eggs with the liquid in the recipe. I have a tutorial for that here.
This recipe makes enough for two 4-inch wide heart-shaped molds. I doubled the recipe to fill four molds.
How to make Coeur a la Creme:
1 cup (8 ounces) fromagina
1 tablespoon granulated sugar*
1 tablespoon heavy cream
2 egg whites, beaten until stiff
*If you pasteurize your egg whites with sugar as outlined in the note above, you will be adding 4 tablespoons of sugar to the whites in the beating process instead of 1 tablespoon as per the recipe. (It’s okay. I did it this way. Tasted delicious and not too sweet at all.) If using liquid or powdered pasteurized egg white products or pasteurized eggs, simply follow the recipe as directed.
Combine the cheese, sugar (if not beating sugar with the whites), and cream. Fold in the egg whites.
It makes a very pretty presentation, and it’s scrumptious. You can also make a Coeur a la Creme savory by adding coarse ground black pepper or garlic to the mixture and topping with a pepper relish, some chutney, or finely chopped vegetables–and serve it with crackers.
Coeur a la Creme with blueberry sauce.