A rich and tangy alternative to vanilla buttercream
Crème fraîche is one of my food obsessions. If you’ve never cooked with this decadent, slightly sour cream, you’ve been missing out. I thought I’d used it in every way possible…until someone asked if I’d ever tried crème fraîche frosting.
What?! Why didn’t I ever think of that, a woman as obsessed with cake as I’ve been most of my life. (I did write a book called Eat Cake Naked after all!) But perhaps I should back up here to elaborate. It might be hard to understand my excitement if you’ve never tried crème fraîche.
What is crème fraîche?
Crème fraîche, the base for this frosting recipe, is a dairy product similar to thickened cream but with a distinctly tart flavor. According to Larousse Gastronomique, crème fraîche is “cream to which a lactic bacteria starter has been added which thickens the cream and gives it a slightly sharp, but not sour flavor.” Originally, this process happened naturally when cream was left to sit at room temperature.
Today, crème fraîche is made under controlled conditions, typically from pasteurized dairy. The resulting product is similar to sour cream only with a more buttery color and distinct weight on the tongue. (Crème fraîche typically has about 10% higher butterfat content than you would find in sour cream.) In crème fraîche frosting, that richness is used to replace butter to make an opulent topping for cakes.
A three ingredient frosting recipe
As I experimented with crème fraîche, I used Chrysta Wilson’s Cream Cheese Frosting as my base recipe, only after a couple of tries I decided to omit the vanilla (too distracting). The final crème fraîche frosting recipe is one that offers the powerful tang of crème fraîche balanced by the unbridled sweetness of powdered sugar. Best of all, it takes just three ingredients. And I’ve found that this three ingredient frosting recipe makes a wonderful topping for all sorts of cakes from red velvet to this chocolate avocado cake.
Chef’s tip for the best crème fraîche frosting
I will say that the consistency of this crème fraîche frosting varies from batch to batch. It seems dependent both on the temperature of the kitchen and the brand of creme fraiche. You might be tempted to make a more stiff frosting by addition extra powdered sugar. Do not to this! You will wreck the balance of flavors. Instead, try refrigerating your frosting to see if you can get your desired consistency and if not, spoon it over your cake.
This 3-ingredient frosting recipe offers an undeniable tange and a smooth, silky consistency.
- 3/4 cup creme fraiche
- 4 oz unsalted butter softened
- 2-2 1/2 cup powdered sugar sifted
- Combine the creme fraiche and softened butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.
- Beat on medium speed until fully mixed and creamy.
- Add the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, with the mixture on low. Continue to add the powdered sugar until you’ve added 2 cups. If it is not at your desired thickness, continue to added powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time up to 2 1/2 cups. (The final frosting will be slightly softer than buttercream.)
- Mix on medium speed until the frosting is completely smooth.
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