Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Vanilla bean crème fraiche

Recently I had my birthday (celebrated all week) - totaling in 5 birthday cakes.  I love cake.  I wanted to top my birthday cake with some whipped crème fraiche as they do at the restaurant so I took two days to go through the process.  Even though it takes a couple days to make, it's really effortless and can be a good sweet or savory accompaniment to your meal.  However don't be fooled by the name, translating to "fresh cream," it's really more like "freshly soured cream," and it's incredibly versatile.

How to use it:
  • It's better than sour cream - though you can use it anywhere in place of sour cream
    • You can whip it (you can't do that with sour cream)
    • You can cook with it/boil it and it won't separate like sour cream
  • It can be sweet or savory
    • Sweet: whip it with sugar/vanilla to top desserts, use it instead of sour cream in baking (i.e. muffins)
    • Savory: use it to thicken soups and sauces, mix it with herbs or horseradish and top off soups, use it as a component in creamy salad dressings

Crème fraiche:
1 cup heavy cream (pasteurized ok but not ultra pasteurized) to 1 TB of buttermilk.
Keep in mind the higher quality cream the higher quality the end product.  Put the cream and buttermilk in a sauce pan and warm briefly just to take the chill off; it should be lukewarm at best.  Put in a clean glass jar or tupperware, cover, and let it sit out for up to 24 hours.  Then put it in the fridge for 24 hours.  It should thicken up and smell a little sour.  Done!  Use it for about a week.

Whipped crème fraiche topping on the cake:
Whip the creme fraiche with a little bit of cream until it holds it's own without being over-whipped.  Take a vanilla bean, slice open and scrape the insides, mix with creme fraiche.  Stir in powdered sugar to desired sweetness.

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