February 14th—Valentine’s Day—is also National Creme Filled Chocolates Day.
But what’s with creme vs. cream?
“Creme,” pronounced cream, is a mis-spelled, mis-pronounced Americanization of the French word for cream, crème (pronounced KREHM). It is used in the U.S. to make chocolates and desserts seem more special; i.e., French, without the correct French pronunciation and accent mark.
So if it isn’t a French dessert or confection—crème brûlée pr crème caramel, for example—why not just use the English-language word cream?
Some users are pretentious, some merely unaware.
More than a few people—both professionals and home cooks—use “creme” in recipes that don’t even contain real cream
Instead, the recipes have creamy fillings made with coconut cream, cream cheese, tofu, various starches and other ingredients (we’ve seen more than a few “creme pie” recipes made with Cool Whip).
For these creamy recipes, why simply use the English-language word creamy?
Some chocolates with creamy centers contain no cream; other chocolates are truly cream-filled with whipped cream, although few American chocolatiers make them because of their shorter shelf life. (You can get them from Leonidas Belgian Chocolates).
And some do actually have cream in their centers. ganache is a prime example, as is caramel).
Fruit fruit creams—lemon, orange and raspberry, for example—are appear more in Belgium than France, as are cream liqueur centers. You won’t find a lot of them at French chocolatiers.
WHAT THE DICTIONARY SAYS
In our opinion, spelling chocolates or whatever “creme” but pronouncing them “cream” is just wrong, when cream is a perfectly accurate words.
Our advice: If it’s made with cream, use the word cream. No one will be confused. If it isn’t made with cream but it’s creamy, use the word creamy.
And save crème or creme, both pronounced KREHM, for French foods: coeur à la crème, crème anglaise, crème brûlée, etc. Not everyone is good with French accent marks, but creme/KREHM is an honest attempt.