I remember the first time I heard creme fraiche I was a young know-it-all (or so I thought). I had no idea what it was, let alone what to make with creme fraiche. But over the years I’ve gotten a little wiser and been around the clock enough to know a few tricks of the trade when it comes to this amazing little ingredient. And I think it’s high time I pass on some of that knowledge to you.
Creme fraiche is a type of dairy product. Creme fraiche is not sour cream but it also has a creamy texture and flavor to it. It can be used in many different types of dishes, such as sauces or soups.
What is creme fraiche
Creme fraiche is a cultured cream that has a taste and consistency similar to sour cream. Cream is mixed with a bacterial starter culture, typically from the bacteria species “Lactococcus” or “Streptococcus.” The goal of the culture is to raise the acidity level of the cream to about 4.6% lactic acid. In this way, creme fraiche can be classified as a “fermented dairy product.”
The word “creme” in French means “cream” and “fraiche” means “fresh.” Creme fraiche was originally made with cream left over from Brittany butter production. Today, it is also made with fresh cream, which is not fermented.
How to make creme fraiche
Cream can be added to pasteurized milk or cream that contains the starter culture Lactococcus lactis subspecies lactis and Leuconostoc mesenteroides subspecies cremoris. This mixture is left at room temperature for about 24 hours. The high concentration of fermenting bacteria raise the acidity of the cream to about 4.6% lactic acid which is what gives creme fraiche its taste and texture.
Dishes using creme fraiche
Creme fraiche can be used in many dishes as a substitute for sour cream or heavy whipping cream. It can be used as a topping for baked potatoes and baked trout, or it can be mixed into batters and used in cooking to make souffles.
Creme fraiche pairs well with seafood like crab and lobster because of its richness and flavor. Creme fraiche is also recommended as an accompaniment to dishes containing tomatoes, eggs, and mild cheeses like mozzarella and ricotta.
Creme fraiche can even be added to fruit purees and jams to make sauces for desserts.
Recipes using creme fraiche
Here are a few recipes that use creme fraiche:
Crab and Lobster Souffle with Crema Mexicana
For the souffle:
- 1/2 cup of cooked crab meat, picked over and flaked into small pieces
- 1/2 cup of cooked lobster meat, picked over and cut into small pieces
- 3 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
- 1 tablespoon butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 egg whites, room temperature
For the crema Mexicana:
- 2 teaspoons of lime juice
- 1 cup of creme fraiche
For the souffle:
- Cream together the creme fraiche, butter, lemon juice and parsley in a medium sized bowl. Then mix in the seafood. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour while you make up the egg whites.
- Place the egg whites in a grease free bowl and beat with an electric beater until stiff peaks form.
- Fold the egg whites into the seafood mixture 1/3 at a time to incorporate fully. Spoon into 4 lightly greased 1 cup ramekins and chill for 1 hour longer while you make up the crema mexicana.
- Combine the crema mexicana ingredients and stir until smooth. Chill for 1 hour before serving over each souffle.
For the Crema Mexicana:
- In a bowl, mix together all ingredients except those listed under “preparation” above. Stir to blend well and chill for 1 hour before serving.
Creme fraiche is a thick cultured cream that can be used in many dishes as a substitute for sour cream or heavy whipping cream to give food richness and flavor. Creme fraiche pairs well with seafood, tomatoes, mild cheeses like mozzarella and ricotta, egg dishes, salads, and fruit purees and jams.
Chocolate and Raspberry Crepe Cake
- 1 teaspoon of unsalted butter and 1 tablespoon of dairy-free margarine
- 2 to 3 tablespoons of raw sugar for the crepes, plus 2 tablespoons for the batter
- 3 eggs, separated
- 1 cup of all purpose flour
- 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons of whole milk (or any other non dairy milk you prefer)
- 1/4 teaspoons salt (plus 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoons more salt for this recipe)
- 1 cup of raspberry puree (fresh or frozen)
- 1/4 cup black cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons dark chocolate chips
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon of vanilla paste (or seeds of one vanilla bean)
- 3/4 cup of creme fraiche or whipping cream
To make raspberry puree: blend raspberries in a food processor until smooth, and strain them through a fine mesh sieve. Or smash them with fork and mix with some water (not too much).
To make the crepes: Melt butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons of raw sugar, mix to combine and cook until the mixture is bubbling slightly. Reduce heat to low, add 1/3 cup of milk, whisk well then add more milk slowly while whisking constantly. Eventually you should have used about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups of milk (I think I used around 1 1/3 cup but you don’t have to be exact). Set the crepe batter aside to cool down.
When it’s cooled down, whisk in egg yolks one by one. Add vanilla extract and salt. Sift cocoa powder into the crepe batter and mix well.
In a separate bowl, whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold them into the crepe batter, one third at a time. Set aside After folding in the egg yolk mixture, you should have 2 cups of raspberry puree sitting in front of you with your crepe batter beside it. Mix one third of the raspberry puree into the crepe batter. Then add another third of the mixture but don’t mix it in completely, you want to keep that middle third separate! Fold in 1/3 cup of dark cocoa powder then fold in another third of raspberry puree. You should have your dark chocolate chip ready beside you, so fold them in carefully. Keep the rest of raspberry puree separate from this batter mixture and add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla paste to it, mix well.
In a non stick frying pan on medium heat, add 1/4 teaspoon of butter and 1/4 teaspoon oil (or you can use some dairy free margarine). Pour one crepe into the pan. Cook each side for about a minute or less, then put them onto a plate and cover with a clean kitchen towel to keep warm as you finish cooking all the crepes (you should get around 8 crepes, but it all depends on how big your pan is).
Spread 1/4 cup of raspberry puree over 4 chocolate crepes (spread it out to cover completely). Layer 1 crepe on top, then spread 1/4 cup of raspberry puree over that. Repeat the same for the next 3 layers. Now put one creme fraiche filled crepe on top of this raspberry-filled cake.
Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut your cake into 12 equal pieces. You can plate them however you like but I like to serve them on a long platter with raspberry puree drizzled over the top of each slice and some chopped dark chocolate for decoration.
Creme fraiche is a versatile dairy product that can be used in many different recipes. We recommend using creme fraiche with seafood, tomato dishes, mild cheeses like mozzarella and ricotta, egg dishes, salads, and fruit purees or jams. If you’re ever stuck asking what to make with creme fraiche, just think of substituting it for recipes that use sour cream and you should be alright!