This light, elegant French summer dessert is from my latest book, The Cook's Garden. The classic accompaniments are strawberries (preferably wild) and raspberries, unhulled. Fruit sauces also go well with these little heart-shaped cheeses. The quantity specified here will fill four small coeur à la crème moulds: they have holes in the base to allow excess moisture to drip out while the crème is setting.
Beat together all the ingredients until smooth, about 1–2 minutes, being careful not to overbeat (mascarpone easily turns to butter, so be gentle). Line the moulds with muslin (to make unmoulding easier). Spoon the mixture into the prepared moulds and place on a tray. Leave to set in the refrigerator.
Before serving, set out four large white plates.
Onto each plate, spoon three fruit sauces in separate groupings, then swirl them together to form a ripple or marbled effect. Unmould the cream cheese hearts, taking great care as they are very soft, and place off centre on each plate.
Berries: place 250 g (8 oz) berries, washed and hulled, into the food processor, add 15–30 g (½–1 oz) icing sugar and process, turning on and off until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve and stir in a little lemon juice. If it seems too thick, you can add a little soda water or aerated mineral water. For a fine coulis (sauce), push through a sieve before serving. Makes about 250 ml (8 fl oz).
Other Fruits: process as for berries, using fruits in season, peeling first and removing stones or seeds if necessary (kiwifruit, peaches, apricots, guavas). Peaches and apricots need to be blanched in boiling water to remove skins beforehand. Adjust amount of sugar and lemon juice depending on the sweetness of the fruit (and on your tooth).