To celebrate Valentine’s Day, some cheese lovers make the traditional Coeur à la Crème—sweetened mascarpone cheese in a heart-shaped mold—for dessert.
It’s very rich, a kind of “French cheesecake.”
Others serve a cheese course with their favorite cheeses.
Still others assemble a plate of delicious heart-shaped cheeses. If you’d like to do the same, head to the best cheese stores in town. They’re certain to offer a few limited edition, heart-shaped delights for the big day.
You can find both domestic heart-shape cheeses like Amour from Coach Farm, a semisoft, bloomy-rinded goat cheese made in New York State; and imports like Godminster Cheddar from the U.K.
Others you may find include:
Capriole, a fresh goat cheese heart with pink peppercorns, made in Indiana.
Coeur de Bray, a heart-shaped Neufchâtel cheese from the Normandy region of France.
Coeur du Berry, a goat cheese from Fromagerie Jacquin in France, available in a plain heart or with an ash coating.
Petit Bonheur, studded with pink peppercorns (the name means “petite happiness”).
Heart’s Desire, coated with Spanish paprika for smoky flavor and reddish color.
Old Flame, a silky cheese without additional accents.
Plus these three bloomy-rinded goat cheeses from Oregon’s River Edge Chèvre:
THE HISTORY OF HEART-SHAPED CHEESE
Heart-shaped cheeses are not a recent invention for Valentine’s Day (the history of Valentine’s Day). They originated more than 500 years ago in the little town of Neufchâtel-en-Bray, in the Haute Normandy region of France.
Most of the maidens in town worked as milkmaids and cheese makers. When some fell in love with the occupying British soldiers during the Hundred Years War (1337-1453), they started to produce heart shapes from the local soft cheese (Neufchâtel), to give as gifts to their sweethearts.
Note that American Neufchatel is very different from its French namesake. In the U.S. it is a name given to a lower-fat type of cream cheese.
THE VALENTINE CHEESE PLATE
Decorate the plate with fresh raspberries and strawberries or a scattering of pomegranate arils.
Top: This gorgeous cheese and charcuterie plate from Flora Artisanal Cheese in Charlottseville, Virginia has pink, purple and red color accents that are spot-on for Valentine’s Day. Center: An aged Coeur De Bray Neufchâtel Cheese from Cheeses Of Europe. Bottom: Amour, a soft goat’s milk cheese from Coach Farm, available at Dean & DeLuca.
Or, take inspiration from the gorgeous cheese and charcuterie platter in the top photo, created by Flora Artisanal Cheese in Charlottesville, Virginia. There’s enough for a party, but you can scale it down to your needs.
Flora has created the Valentine’s Day platter with:
Pink ham, especially thin-sliced prosciutto or serrano
Red grapes, plus green grapes for a bit of contrast
Purple olives with green gherkins