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RECIPE: Trois Crèmes Cake

In Mexico’s popular Pastel de Tres Leches or Tres Leches Cake, three forms of milk—condensed, evaporated and whole milk—are poured over a baked vanilla sponge cake to create a very moist comfort food.

Here’s a Trois Crèmes Cake that uses crème fraîche three different ways for a much more sophisticated effect: a crème fraîche cake with hazelnut and crème fraîche filling, drizzled with salted vanilla crème fraîche caramel. The three different uses of creme fraiche make it very elegant.

The recipe and photo are via Vermont Creamery, courtesy of Paul Lowe Einlyng, a native of Oslo, Norway, whose online magazine and blog will make you want to make everything. Paul now lives in New York City, where he working as a stylist, editor, publisher, magazine developer and blogger.

RECIPE: TROIS CRÈMES CAKE

Ingredients For The Cake

  • 1½ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • ½ cup crème fraîche
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla or maple syrup
  • ½ cup chopped hazelnuts
  •    
    trois-cremes-caramel-cake_sweet_paul_vtcreamery-230

    Make your last cake of the year this beauty. Photo courtesy Sweet Paul | Vermont Creamery.

     

    Ingredients For The Caramel

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons lightly salted butter
  • 1/2 cup Vermont Creamery Madagascar Vanilla Crème Fraîche*
  • Pinch of flaky sea salt
  •  
    Ingredients For The Crème Fraîche Filling

  • 2 cups crème fraîche
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  •  
     
    *If you can’t find Vermont Creamery Madagascar Vanilla Crème Fraîche, add a half teaspoon of pure vanilla extract to regular crème fraîche. It won’t be as wonderful, but it works.

     

    creme-fraiche-in-pail-beauty-vtcreamery-230
    Crème fraîche. Photo courtesy Vermont Creamery.
      Preparation

    1. MAKE the caramel. Pour the sugar into a dry saucepan and melt it over medium-low heat. it will first begin to get clumpy and then after a few minutes it will melt completely. Once the sugar is completely melted, carefully…

    2. ADD the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Be careful as the sugar will boil up as you add the butter. Stir to combine the butter completely into the sugar. Finally, drop the crème fraîche into the caramel a spoonful at a time while you stir it. It will boil up and sputter yet again. Mix until fully incorporated. Stir the mixture for about 1–2 minutes more until it reaches your desired consistency. Be careful if you are tasting your caramel because it’s super-hot! Remove from heat and allow to cool. You can store it for up to 1 week in a sealed container in the fridge. If so, you may want to microwave it slightly before serving or using it as a topping.

    3. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl and set aside.

    4. CREAM the butter and sugar in a stand mixer until light fluffy. Add in the crème fraîche and mix until fully incorporated. Add in eggs one at a time and mix until fully incorporated. Add in the vanilla or maple syrup and chopped hazelnuts and mix until incorporated. Add in the dry flour mixture slowly and mix until all is incorporated.

     

    5. POUR the batter into a 9-inch round pan and bake for 45–60 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick starting at 35 minutes. The toothpick inserted in the center of the cake should come out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. When the cake is completely cool, slice it in half to create two equal layers of cake.

    6. PREPARE the crème fraîche filling by simply mixing the crème fraîche with the powdered sugar.

    7. PLACE the bottom layer on the cake plate and spread 2/3 of the crème fraîche mixture on the bottom layer. Drizzle a bit of the caramel on top of the filling and place the top layer on top. Spread the rest of the crème fraîche on top of the cake. Sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts and drizzle the caramel all over the top of the cake.

    8. SERVE immediately and store any leftover cake in the fridge, as the crème fraîche needs to be kept chilled.
     
    WHAT IS CRÈME FRAÎCHE

    Crème fraîche (pronounced crem fresh, French for “fresh cream”) is a thickened cream—not as thick as sour cream, more of the consistency of yogurt, which is an appropriate analogy because it is slightly soured with bacterial culture. Originally from Normandy, the dairy heartland of France, today it is used throughout Continental and American cuisines.

    Sour cream, which is more accessible and less expensive, can be substituted in most recipes; but crème fraîche has advantages: It can be whipped, and it will not curdle when cooked over high heat. In addition, it is usually a bit lighter in body than commercial sour creams, more subtly sour, and overall more elegant.

    Crème fraîche is made by inoculating unpasteurized heavy cream with Lactobacillus cultures, letting the bacteria grow until the cream is both soured and thick and then pasteurizing it to stop the process. Thus, authentic crème fraîche cannot be made at home because generally, only pasteurized cream is available to consumers. To add Lactobacillus to pasteurized cream will cause it to spoil instead of sour.

    Crème fraîche is the ideal addition to sauces and soups because it can be boiled without curdling. Our favorite use is as a topping and garnish. Just a dab helps balance flavors and makes anything more delicious. Here’s more about crème fraîche plus a recipe to make your own.
      




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