Creme Fraiche is a fermented cream, kind of a rich but subtle sour cream that is used in many European recipes and has gained popularity in the USA in the past decade. It can be purchased in the "good cheese section" of many supermarkets, usually sold near marscapone. It is sold in tubs, like cottage cheese or whipped cream cheese, but has a looser consistency than any of them.
Many recipes call for it to be used as a stir-in for sauces as a way to finish them. It is also used to top fresh berries or as a dollop on sweet pie or oatmeal. Creme Fraiche is tangy and freshly made creme fraiche is buttery and decadent.
I recently made some at home and it is one of the easiest things to make. It uses heavy cream, buttermilk and TIME. LOTS of time... and a warm kitchen (75 degrees or so is ideal).
Some recipes call for heating the cream till barely warm and then adding the buttermilk. This steps hurries it along, but it's possible to make it by just combining cream (not ultra pasteurized) and buttermilk in a sterilized container, covering it and then waiting.... and waiting... and waiting. Somewhere between 36 and 48 hours later, the liquid mixture will ferment and become thick and "sour cream like". At this point, refrigerate it and use it in a few days.
Creme Fraiche - prepare 3 days in advance, makes 1 cup
8 oz heavy cream (not ultra pasteurized)
1/4 cup buttermilk (with live cultures)
sterilized container that can be covered tightly (a mason jar works well)
Combine cream and buttermilk in the sterilized jar. Cover tightly and let sit in a warm (75 degree) environment. Check on it in 24- 30 hours to see if it has thickened up. If not, just wait and let it set for another 12 hours. Check on it again to see how it's progressing and either let it set out another 6-12 hours or if it is thickened, place it in the refrigerator. Use within a couple of days.