A balm for Mom’s soul
The student begins his studies with the life cycle, as expressed in the tadpole. Using observational technique, field notebook and pencil, he draws a dot, and, in shorthand common to the kindergarten cohort, records: “It is vre tine.” It is very tiny. Subsequent entries document the development of nostrils, tail, eyes and legs — poised to leap.
The mom, passing the tadpole classroom 13 years on, recalls this notebook. She roams the school grounds: swing set, science lab, parking lot — its cars, spray-painted in shorthand common to the high school senior, announce: “Dun!”
She pauses at the grove of daffodils those graduates planted in their preschool days. She makes her own observations: “They grew swiftly. So strong. So brilliant. So brief.”
Coeur a la Creme
Made from heavy cream pressed into a heart-shaped mold, coeur a la creme offers balm to the heavy of heart.
Prep: 15 minutes
Rest: 12 to 24 hours
Makes: One (7-inch) heart-shaped cream dessert, serves 6
11/4 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
Strawberry sauce, recipe follows
1 pint fresh raspberries
Prep: If you have one of those lovely porcelain coeur a la creme molds, use that. If not, choose a fine-mesh strainer. Set mold on a rimmed baking sheet or suspend strainer over a bowl. Cut a 14-inch length of cheese cloth. Run cheese cloth under cold water and squeeze dry. Un-crumple cloth and line the mold (or strainer) with it, leaving overhang.
Whip: Pour heavy cream into a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Drop in sugar, vanilla and salt. Whip to soft peaks, about 2 minutes.
Fluff: Spoon in yogurt and honey. Whip, stopping and scraping down sides once, until smoothly blended and beautifully fluffy, about 1 minute.
Drain: Scrape cream mixture into the mold. Fold up cheese-cloth overhang to cover the cream. Slide mold (along with its drip-catching sheet or bowl) into the fridge. Let drain, pouring off accumulated liquid now and then, 12 to 24 hours. This wait both firms the texture and mellows the flavors.
Serve: Unfold cheese cloth. Set a serving platter over mold and invert mold onto the platter. Peel off cheese cloth. Scatter platter with a few raspberries, and serve sauce separately. Or spoon brilliant sauce around the pale cream heart. Scatter sauce with whole raspberries. Pretty, right? Enjoy.
Strawberry sauce: Heap 2 pints hulled strawberries, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice into a blender or food processor. Swirl to a pulp. Press through a fine mesh strainer. Discard solids. If working ahead, cover and chill.