Mexican crema. Mmmmmmmm, a little taste of Heaven. (Apologies to any Vegans who are concerned about any Dairy Cows who may be hurt as a result of my new crema addiction.)
According to “Cooking at Home”, Mexican crema is “a rich, thick, lightly soured cream similar in flavor and consistency to crème fraiche and thinner than sour cream.” Since I’ve had a container of crema in my refrigerator over the last week or so, I’ve topped off every single bite Mexican-related food with a good-sized thinnish dollop (or two or three) of my new favorite dairy product. (I haven’t yet resorted to licking it off of my plate, but it might very well come to that some day.)
Different people (and by people I mean the foodies whose palates are a bit more discerning than mine) see less differences between crème fraiche, sour cream, and Mexican crema than I do; this foodie-inspired site has a discussion thread asking about the relative differences between the three creams. The consensus seems to be that the three are basically the same, but that Mexican crema is much thinner, which makes it better for runny-sauced chipotle mixes or for drizzling over your fave foods.
This site offers a how-to for making your own Mexican crema (sour cream). Basically, you only need two ingredients: 1 pint of half and half, and a ¼ cup of cultured sour cream or buttermilk.
First of all, it’s important to note that the buttermilk or sour cream has to have living bacteria in it. Unfortunately, it’s more than likely that you won’t be able to find mass-produced sour cream with living bacteria in it—the label should say whether or not it has a starter—but it should be easier to find buttermilk with living bacteria. (I know, it sounds weird and slightly gross, but it’s important.)
Mix the two together at room temperature, cover the mixture, and leave it outside of the refrigerator for 12-20 hours after which, presto, you magically have Mexican crema to use and eat as you wish. From what I’ve read, fresh Mexican crema usually keeps about a week in the fridge. (I’ve tempted the fates and kept it for longer with no ill effects, but I wouldn’t necessarily advise doing the same.)