Crème fraîche is available at most specialty food stores, or can be ordered online like this crème fraîche from California’s Kendall Farms, which is sold by Dean & DeLuca.
KAREN HOCHMAN is Editorial Director of THE NIBBLE.
Last Updated November 2014
Crème Fraîche Recipe
Delicious Anytime ~ And Easy To Make
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Crème fraîche (pronounced crem fresh, French for “fresh cream”) is a thickened cream—not as thick as sour cream, more of the consistency of yogurt, which is an appropriate analogy because it is slightly soured with bacterial culture. Originally from Normandy, the dairy heartland of France, today it is used throughout Continental and American cuisines. Sour cream, which is more accessible and less expensive, can be substituted in most recipes; but crème fraîche has advantages: it can be whipped, and it will not curdle when cooked over high heat. In addition, it is usually a bit lighter in body than commercial sour creams, more subtly sour, and overall more elegant.
Crème fraîche is made by inoculating unpasteurized heavy cream with Lactobacillus cultures, letting the bacteria grow until the cream is both soured and thick and then pasteurizing it to stop the process. Thus, authentic crème fraîche cannot be made at home because generally, only pasteurized cream is available to consumers. To add Lactobacillus to pasteurized cream will cause it to spoil instead of sour.
Crème fraîche is the ideal addition to sauces and soups because it can be boiled without curdling. Our favorite use is as a topping and garnish. Just a dab helps balance flavors and makes anything more delicious. A few ideas:
- Serve as a side with chocolate cake—the slight tartness is a wonderful counterpoint to the sweet and rich notes of any chocolate dessert .
- As a side or topping for any other cake, pie, cobbler, pudding.
- With berries, fresh fruit salad, poached fruits or compotes .
- With sundaes—more elegant than whipped cream is to top sundaes with a dab of crème fraîche.
- With caviar and roe on blini or toast points.
- On hors d’oeuvres in general.
- With smoked salmon and dill.
- With new potatoes.
- As a plate garnish, topped or circled with snipped chives or lemon zest .
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