I often use crÃ¨me fraiche and fromage frais both as dessert or fruit toppings, and in cooking. CrÃ¨me fraiche is basically cream that’s been soured a little, French style, with a bacterium. It gives it a tang that makes it taste less rich than fresh or double cream, and therefore less likely to overpower what it’s added to. It’s also much less prone to curdle in cooking, and it seems to keep longer.
Fromage frais is altogether lighter, being a cheese curd, rather like cottage cheese, but processed to remove the lumpy texture. Again, it has a distinctive tang, and has less dense taste and texture than cream. I was quite surprised to discover how different some of the food values of the two can be. Quoted for 100gm servings, crÃ¨me fraiche has about 380 kcal, compared with 449 kcal for double cream. There are reduced fat supermarket versions of it which offer about 180 kcal. Fromage frais, on the other hand, come in at only 49 kcal per 100gm.
It’s a similar story with fat content. Again, per 100gm, ordinary crÃ¨me fraiche can clock up 40gm, with the reduced fat versions on about 15gm. Fromage frais, on the other hand, lists a fat content of 0.1gm, and therefore qualifies for the ‘fat-free’ label. I like both of them, but the moral seems to be that people on a reduced calorie or low-fat diet might do well to go for the fromage frais.