This recipe starts by making a batch of crème fraîche, which takes about 24 hours. Of course, you can always skip that step and start with storebought crème fraîche and whip this up a few hours before dinner to give it time to set.
To make the crème fraîche, pour two cups of cream and ¼ cup of buttermilk into a non-reactive bowl, give it a good stir, cover with a kitchen towel and leave it for about 24 hours. That’s when the cream suddenly sets and becomes less liquid, more pudding-like. Check on it now and then. In my kitchen, it takes about 24 hours to become creamy and have just the right amount of tang. This process can take anywhere from 6-48 hours. Give it a stir every once in a while, and taste a nip. When ready, it will smell like fresh butter.
When the crème fraîche is done, whisk it for a minute until smooth and a little lighter. Set aside. I usually already have a batch of crème fraiche around. In that case, this recipe will work with a heaping 2 cups of its creamy goodness (or about 16 ounces).
Next, sprinkle the gelatin over 2 tablespoons of cold water. Let it stand for a few minutes until it softens and blooms. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the milk, sugar, and vanilla bean to a simmer. As soon as you see a consistent pattern of bubbles, turn the heat off and stir in the gelatin until it melts in. Pull out the vanilla bean pod and gradually whisk the milk mixture into the crème fraîche. Pour into six 6-ounce ramekins. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, or up to 1 day. Serve with a ripe red strawberry, or a few perfect raspberries and a sparkling clean spoon. That’s all it really needs.