Fromage frais, which mean "fresh cheese" in French, is a type of soft white cheese, typically made from cow's milk. The fresh curd cheese originated in Belgium and northern France and is difficult to find in the U.S. except in specialty shops. It is similar to cream cheese, but has a tangier taste, a richer texture and lower fat content. Don't confuse fromage frais with fromage blanc -- which means "white cheese" -- or creme fraiche, which is a thickened cream.
Fromage frais comes in several forms. It comes in primarily three fat-content variations, fat-free, which has 0.01 percent fat, 4 percent and 8 percent. The fat-free version can be used in dips and puddings, and the 4 percent fromage frais is usually eaten alone or as a topping. The higher-fat version is primarily used for cooking and as an ingredient in savory sauces.
European vendors sell a selection of fromage frais, flavored with strawberries, raspberries, apricot and other fruit. The cheese may also be flavored with herbs, garlic and spices, or vanilla.
How to Use
Serve the tangy curd cheese by itself or as a spread for sandwiches, or use as a topping for fresh strawberries or other fruit dishes where you'd typically use cream. Serve the cheese with baked potatoes in place of sour cream or cottage cheese. You can use it to thicken sauces as it's unlikely to curdle.
Fromage Frais Substitutes
Woman's Day suggests substituting either a blend of cottage cheese and yogurt, or quark cheese when fromage frais is not available. Quark is another curd cheese, made from goat milk or cow's milk, made in Germany and other European countries. Other substitutes include ricotta cheese, cottage cheese and cream cheese.