What is Heavy Cream?
Heavy cream, or heavy whipping cream, is used for filling baked goods and pastries. Heavy cream is also used in recipes calling for whipped cream as a topping or an ingredient. To create whipped cream, use a whisk or a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Quickly incorporate air into the cream for three to four minutes for one cup of heavy cream. The heavy cream will double in volume when whipped.
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The thickness and high fat content of heavy cream is difficult to substitute or replace in baking recipes. If a substitute is required, 1 cup of heavy cream can be replaced with 2/3 cup of whole milk and 1/3 cup of melted unsalted butter. Crème fraîche is an adequate substitute for recipes that do not require whipping the cream.
One ounce of heavy cream contains 103 calories, 11 grams of fat and 7 grams of saturated fat. Sodium is low, at 11 mg, but the cholesterol is on the higher side at 41 mg. One ounce of heavy cream has 437 IU of vitamin A and 15.5 IU of vitamin D. The mineral content is low with 19.3 mg of calcium, 18.4 mg of phosphorus and 22.3 mg of potassium.
Other common cream products used in baking include butter, sour cream, crème fraîche and whipped cream. Butter is the result of churning cream and separating the butterfat and buttermilk. Whipped cream is produced by incorporating air by whisking cream into a whipped, fluffy texture. Introducing a bacterial culture into cream creates sour cream. This bacteria produces lactic acid and gives the cream a sour taste. Crème fraîche is a cream with 28 percent milk fat and a slightly soured flavor due to the presence of bacteria. Crème fraîche is thinner than sour cream and not as sour.
Light whipping cream can be used in recipes that call for heavy whipping cream. With lower fat, light whipping cream is healthier. However, heavy whipping cream whips best and substituting light whipping cream can affect the quality of your baked good. Understanding the proper whipping and baking uses of light whipped cream will guide you in deciding which ingredient to use.
Many recipes call for heavy whipping cream to be added. In general, 1 cup of heavy whipping cream whips into 2 cups of whipped cream, whereas 1 cup of light cream yields slightly less, about 1-1/2 cup light whipped cream. The largest difference between the creams is the butter fat content. Light cream contains 30 percent butter fat and heavy cream contains 36 percent to 40 percent. Because of this difference, heavy whipping cream is ideal for whipping and holds its form longer and fluffs to a greater volume.
Whipping cream is often used as a topping or additive to a whipped filling. Whip your light cream by placing it in the coldest part of your fridge and place a metal bowl and mixer beaters in the freezer 30 minutes prior to whipping. Pour your cream into the bowl and place the bowl in a larger bowl full of ice. Whip your cream in the coldest room in your house to ensure stiff peaks and cream stabilization.
Whip your light cream on low for 30 seconds until bubbles form. Increase your mixer speed to medium and whip until the beaters begin to leave a trail in the cream. Further increase your speed to high until soft peaks just begin to form. At this point, add any sugar or flavoring by pouring down the side of the metal bowl while the mixer is turned off. Resume beating the light cream on high until stiff peaks form. Combine the cream with any other ingredients such as berries or melted chocolate by folding the ingredients together gently to preserve the whipped texture of your whipped cream.
Substitution and Nutrition
Reduced fat light cream or half and half can be substituted for heavy cream in recipes such as sauces and gravies with cornstarch and for baked goods such as scones and sweet breads and for custards. However, the lower fat can affect the texture of your recipe. To make a substitution for 1 cup light cream combine 3/4 cup of whole milk with 1/4 cup melted unsalted butter. One serving of light cream, or 1 tbsp. unwhipped, yields 21 calories and 2.2 g of fat as compared with heavy cream with 50 calories and 5 g of fat.