What is Heavy Cream

The Editors at Food Fanatic | Food Fanatic
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Find out what makes heavy cream different to whipping cream, plus some great alternatives to use in a pinch!

Heavy cream? Whipping cream? Heavy whipping cream? OK, it's confusing! So what exactly IS the difference between them - and can you swap one for another?

Essentially, heavy cream and heavy whipping cream are the same thing. Whipping cream, however, is the odd one out!

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The Food and Drug Administration's labeling requirements state that a product must contain at least 36% milk fat to be called 'heavy cream' or 'heavy whipping cream'.

With its milk fat content of only 30 to 35%, regular whipping cream doesn't qualify for the use of 'heavy' in its name. 

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So 'whipping cream' should be the best choice for whipping! Right?

Wrong!

The lower fat content means that it doesn't actually whip quite as well as its heavier counterpart. Heavy cream will hold its shape much better when whipped, making it ideal for use as a filling in baked goods, or a decorative topping. 

Its higher fat content also makes it a better choice for creamy sauces and soups, as it produces richer, thicker results.

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Whipped Cream Recipe

Making your own whipped cream is very quick and easy. You need:

1 cup heavy whipping cream (or heavy cream)

2 tablespoons sugar

Just whisk the 2 ingredients together until the mixture begins to form stiff peaks.

Or how about trying chocolate whipped cream? Yum!

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Tips for perfect whipped cream

The key is to keep your equipment nice and cold!

That includes the beaters or metal whisk and the mixing bowl itself. A metal bowl is best, as it will get colder than a plastic one.

Just place all the equipment into the freezer 15 minutes before you're ready to start whipping.

Can you keep leftover whipped cream?

Yes, but not for long. Spoon the cream into an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to 10 hours. For best results, whisk it again for 30 seconds once you're ready to use it.

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What are good substitutes for heavy cream?

Perhaps you have a recipe calling for heavy cream - but none in the house! Or perhaps you're looking for something equally creamy - but not quite so rich in calories!

Here are 3 great alternatives:

Butter/milk mixture. Although you can't whip it, this mixture works well in soups and sauces, or baked goods. Just mix 1/4 cup of butter with 3/4 cup of milk. You can also try using half and half instead of the milk!

Evaporated milk. Again, it can't be whipped - but evaporated milk has less calories than heavy cream and still brings a richness to soups and sauces. It can also be used in baked goods.

Cream cheese. This can be very useful for frosting as it holds its shape well, and is also a good thickener for soups and sauces. Remember, though, that it has a fairly distinctive flavor which will affect the rest of the dish - so make sure it will work well with the other ingredients you're using.

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