If you make your own ricotta -- which you really should do -- you will doubtless have a lot of buttermilk hanging around your refrigerator. Might as well put it to good use.
Just two tablespoons of the misunderstood stuff, plus one cup of heavy cream, and you are well on your way to a dense bowl of crème fraîche that you have concocted, yourself. There is no reason to spend five or six bucks at Whole Foods, when a dish of it could be thickening on your counter, right now. It is amazingly simple to do, and you get the satisfaction of creating something wonderful.
We drizzled the tangy cream over our carrot soup for Thanksgiving dinner. It is equally delicious spooned on pumpkin pie for a less sweet twist on the classic whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. I like it as a base for a dressing for butter lettuce with some snipped chives. Smoked salmon, boiled new potatoes, caviar, and cucumbers are all enhanced with a dollop of crème fraîche.
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons buttermilk
Heat the cup of heavy cream up to body temperature in a heavy saucepan. Add 2 tablespoons of buttermilk and stir. Pour the mixture into a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave on your counter for 24 hours, until thick. The crème fraîche will keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator. You may repeat this process, substituting your homemade crème fraîche for the buttermilk the next time around.