Fromage frais is a French type of white cheese, usually made with skim milk, with a variety of textures depending upon how it has been produced, and is often used in combination with other ingredients such as savory spices or sweet berries. The cheese itself has little or no flavor, making it an ideal medium to showcase more flavorful ingredients. It can be used in a number of different recipes, often in a similar capacity to sour cream or cream, or served by itself. Fromage frais can be quite difficult to find in regions outside of France, though specialty food sellers will sometimes carry the product.
In French, fromage frais literally means “fresh cheese,” though fromage blanc is also sometimes used and simply means “white cheese.” Often made using skim milk, it can have very little fat, but also tends to have very little flavor. Some makers add a bit of cream to the cheese to make a richer and more substantial cheese. The cheese itself can be fairly delicate, and if added to a cooking dish, it should be added to the dish off of the heat, stirred to thoroughly combine, and then returned to the heat. Direct heat during addition of the fromage frais can cause the cheese to quickly curdle before properly incorporating into the dish.
Fromage frais can be used in ways similar to sour cream, cream, or even cream cheese depending on the consistency of the cheese and the application. Some types of fromage frais are creamy but fairly thin, with a loose consistency somewhere between heavy cream and sour cream. This type of cheese is often added to dishes to thicken sauces and make them richer and creamier. Other varieties can be made firmer and may more closely resemble cream cheese in consistency and texture, though not in flavor.
This type of fromage frais is often used as an appetizer or a dessert and combined with other ingredients for greater flavor. A savory appetizer can easily be made by combining the cheese with some herbs and spices, such as rosemary, thyme, oregano, and garlic. This can then be spread on crackers or any similar means of cheese service. It is also often served as a dessert, typically combined with fresh berries and a berry sauce to provide a rich, creamy medium for the sweetness of the berries. Fromage blanc au miel is a commonly served dessert in which fromage frais is drizzled with honey.