A few years ago at the San Francisco Fancy Food Show, I met Sadie Kendall of Kendall Farms. We had a delightful conversation. Sadie pioneered Crème Fraîche in the U.S., and I've been using it for years in baked goods, cream sauces, and lots of other ways.
"Sadie Kendall is one of the leaders of the revolution that continues to energize the American food industry. Before most of us had even heard of the delicious and versatile French preparation called crème fraîche, she was carefully adapting its production methods to the American dairy. Kendall Farms Crème Fraîche has become a classic. It is one of the few American versions that remains faithful to the French original, made from cultured cream without added enzymes or thickeners that compromise flavor and functionality. Kendall Farms Crème Fraîche is the benchmark for genuine American Crème Fraîche." - Harold McGee, author of On Food and Cooking and The Curious Cook.
THE HISTORY of Crème Fraîche from the Kendall Farms Website:
The Larousse Gastronomique defines crème fraîche as "cream to which a lactic bacteria starter has been added which thickens the cream and gives it a slightly sharp, but not sour flavor."
Crème Fraîche originated in the dairy-producing regions of France such as Normandy, Alsace, Franche-Comté and the northern Loire. Fresh milk was left to settle overnight at cool ambient temperature to allow the cream to rise to the top and then be collected for making butter. The naturally occurring lactose-fermenting bacteria worked overnight to thicken and acidify the cream.
In France today, crème fraîche exists in varying consistency from liquid to thick; the liquid version is barely fermented while the thicker product undergoes up to twenty hours of fermentation. The fat content may vary from product to product. All of the cream sold as crème fraîche is traditionally pasteurized as opposed to ultra high -temperature pasteurized.
Commercially produced crème fraîche in the US is far from consistent from brand to brand. Some manufacturers use cream from Jersey or Guernsey cows which lends a buttery, cheesey flavor to the créme fraîche due to the high content of diacetyl in the milk of those breeds. Many producers use a shorter, hotter fermentation period or bacterial starters that result in a one-dimensional flavor profile. Some manufacturers may even use thickeners. Not Kendall Farms... it's a wonderful consistent product that I always have in the refrigerator. Always there for culinary emergencies, as well as perfect for sauces and baking--and this fabulous Chocolate Mousse.
SALLY KENDALL'S CRÈME FRAÎCHE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
2 cups creme fraiche
4 Tbsp confectioner's sugar
2 Tbsp instant coffee
1 Tbsp hot water
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
Dissolve instant coffee in hot water.
Place chocolate and coffee solution in saucepan and melt chocolate on low heat (stir frequently).
Whip cold crème fraîche, adding sugar, 1 tablespoon at time, to taste. Whip until stiff. Taste for sweetness.
Add a few tablespoons of crème fraîche to chocolate to equalize their temperatures.
Add chocolate to crème fraîche.
Whip to blend in chocolate.
Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.
For more of Sally Kendall's Creme Fraiche recipes, go HERE.
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