Heavy cream is widely used in a variety of recipes like, soups, sauces, curries, and desserts. It is a favorite topping in cakes and pastries, and is used in many popular beverages, like Irish coffee, eggnog, Mekong, and Godiva cream. Whipped heavy cream can often be seen as a garnish in coffee drinks. However, health-conscious people search for substitutes for this dairy product, which is very high in fat content. It has the highest butterfat content, which is between 36% to 40% in products available in the United States and around 48% to 50% in other places. While for some people, high fat content is the reason for searching a heavy cream substitute, others need replacements, in case they run out of this ingredient.
Substitutes for Heavy Cream
Cream consists of the fatty components in milk, which is not homogenized. Usually, this yellowish milk fat accumulates at the surface. There are many types of cream like clotted cream, double cream, half-and-half cream, heavy cream, long-life cream, and reduced fat cream. Creams with high butterfat content have a rich texture and taste better than its counterparts, plus, such creams don't curdle easily, and can be used in cooking. Creams with high butterfat content whips well and will be more stable. Heavy cream is usually whipped before use, but, there are recipes, which require the cream as such, i.e., without whipping. Whipping makes it more denser, as it doubles in volume, which makes it holds its shape. All these features, along with its superb taste, makes it a favorite ingredient in recipes. However, the high fat content is a cause of worry, as it is unhealthy to consume foods with large amounts of fat. You may use store-bought heavy cream substitutes as a replacement for the original.
Milk and Butter
In case of recipes, which require heavy cream without whipping, you can use a homemade substitute. All you have to do is to mix ¾ cup milk and ⅓ cup of melted, unsalted butter. This can be used as a substitute for one cup of whipped cream. Low fat milk is not desirable, but, if you are using low-fat milk, add a tablespoon of flour to make the mixture thicker.
Skim Milk and Cornstarch
Another option is skim milk, which has to be mixed with flour or cornstarch. You can also use unflavored gelatin to thicken the milk. One method is to take a cup of milk and whisk it with a tablespoon of flour and two tablespoons of cornstarch. You may also use low-fat milk, but make sure to whisk the mixture for at least three to four minutes, so that it thickens.
Tofu and Soy Milk
If you are a vegetarian, who needs a low-fat heavy cream substitute, then this option will be perfect for you. Blend silk tofu with plain soy milk, till you make sure that no lumps are left in the mixture. You may also use soy toppings, which are available in the market. Some people try full-fat or low-fat yogurt (as a substitute for heavy cream), especially for cold dishes.
Cottage Cheese and Milk
Another substitute for heavy cream can be made at home by mixing cottage cheese with milk powder or skim milk. Blend equal amounts of low-fat cottage cheese and non-fat powdered milk. Make sure to blend the mixture well, so as to avoid lumps. You may also replace powdered milk with low-fat skim milk.
Some people use a substitute made of evaporated milk and vanilla extract. For this purpose, you have to chill evaporated milk, and then add vanilla (optional). Mix well, before adding to recipes. Evaporated milk is more suited (as a heavy cream alternative) for recipes that call for cream that is to be heated or cooked, as in case of soups.
However, substitutes can slightly alter the flavor and texture of the end product, so ensure that the heavy cream substitute you choose for a particular recipe is compatible with the flavor of the dish. You can select any of the substitutes, that gel well with the consistency and flavor of the dish.