Are you familiar with crème fraiche? If so, then I’m happy you are already enjoying the silky, decadent creaminess that makes crème fraiche…crème fraiche. If not, then jump on the crème fraiche bandwagon because I can promise you that you will not be disappointed (and it is so stinkin’ easy to make, you’ll wonder why you haven’t done so before)!
What is the stuff, anyway, you might be wondering? Well, crème fraiche (pronounced “krem fresh”) is simply a thick soured cream slightly lower in acidity than sour cream and with a rich consistency that is unparalleled. One of the main differences between crème fraiche and sour cream is that crème fraiche can be whipped into fluffy, decadent soft or stiff peaks which makes it ideal for desserts like this Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding Pie (seriously, the sweetened crème fraiche topping on this pie is unreal).
And the other wonderful difference is that crème fraiche doesn’t curdle, which it makes it great for finishing sauces and stroganoffs. When I have crème fraiche on hand, I use it in place of sour cream for this Ultimate Beef Stroganoff, Poor Man’s Stroganoff, the Parmesan sauce for these Chicken Pillows and many other recipes calling for sour cream. The creamy, smooth consistency cannot be beat. I’m sorry, sour cream, but I’d be willing to break a date with you any day if crème fraiche is in my fridge waiting to hang out.
Another simple way we enjoy crème fraiche is mixing it with a bit of pesto to make a caprese focaccia that is absolutely unbelievable in it’s fresh tastiness. Homemade focaccia, cut in half and spread with a pesto-crème fraiche mixture and topped with sweet tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Oh my. (Thanks to my friend, Angela, for sharing the idea behind this focaccia from her years living in Germany where they enjoyed it all the time!)
Since making your own crème fraiche is shockingly inexpensive compared to the cost of buying it at the store, it is worth the 24-hour wait as it thickens. What are you waiting for? Make some crème fraiche today! (And if you already use crème fraiche, let me know what you use it in!)
Note: The key to homemade crème fraiche is NOT using ultra-pasteurized whipping cream. If you have the Dean's brand of cream in your grocery stores, I've found it is one of the few that is just pasteurized, not ultra-pasteurized so it will thicken beautifully. I'm sure there are other pasteurized brands also...so look closely at the cartons to make sure you know what you are buying.
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons buttermilk
- In a jar or other glass container, combine the cream and buttermilk. Cover loosely and let stand at room temperature (about 70 degrees) for 12 to 24 hours until very thick and the mixture resembles the texture/thickness of thick yogurt. Stir well, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
- For the focaccia, I used this homemade focaccia recipe, split it in half to form two thinner pieces of focaccia, mixed about 1/2 cup creme fraiche with 2 tablespoons pesto and smeared that mixture on the cut sides of each piece of focaccia. Then I layered on cherry tomatoes, split in half, and fresh mozzarella cheese - broiled it for about 4-5 minutes (watching carefully!) and devoured nearly singlehandedly.