— Marjorie Ciszewski, Clinton Township, Mich.
A: Heavy cream is commonly found at grocery stores labeled “heavy whipping cream.” You might find some products labeled “heavy cream.” They are the same. Heavy whipping cream is cream that has a milk fat content of 36-40 percent.
Heavy whipping cream is used in many dishes that call for a cream sauce, in soups and in baking. Because of its milk fat content, heavy whipping cream can be whipped up to soft peaks and used as a dessert topping. It’s sold pasteurized and ultra-pasteurized. While the latter has a longer shelf life, the pasteurized cream whips up better.
Heavy whipping cream, once whipped, should double in volume. It’s important to make sure everything — the cream, mixing bowl and the beaters — is well-chilled. For best results, put the beaters and the bowl in the freezer for at least 30 minutes before you start whipping.
Because of the high milk-fat content, the cream is high in fat and calories. For that reason, you might want to substitute other cream products in soups and some sauces. There’s light cream, coffee cream or half-and-half. You can also use regular or reduced-fat milk. Their fat contents vary.
Here’s how some creams measure up:
Product Milk fat
Heavy cream 38 percent or higher
Heavy whipping cream 36 percent
Half-and-half 12 to 18 percent
Coffee cream 12 percent
Be sure to read labels as some of these products contain corn syrup or added sugars. Though the amount of corn syrup is trivial, it’s added to give a bit of sweetness and in place of cream. Some products also list carrageenan — a natural thickener made from red seaweed.
Products with milk fat percentages lower than 36 percent will not whip up into soft peaks, but can be used as a cream thickener for sauces. You might need to help it along with a small amount of cornstarch to reach the desired thickness.
To thicken a sauce, whisk about 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch into the cream substitute before adding it to sauces or soups. If you do it after, the corn starch can clump. Heat the mixture just below boiling, doing so gently. If you bring it to a full boil, you risk the mixture curdling or separating. You can thin the sauce or soup with more liquid if needed.
Those who follow ketogenic diet often refer to heavy whipping cream as HWC. It’s used in many keto recipes, including soups and sauces, because it’s ultra-low in carbohydrates. They also HWC in coffees and lattes in place of milk.
Many products will list the carbs as 0 g for 1 tablespoon on the label, but it could have trace amounts that will add up. That one tablespoon of heavy whipping cream also has 50 calories, 5 g of fat (with 3.5 g of the fat being saturated fat).
SPICY HUBBARD SQUASH SOUP WITH CRISPY FRIED SAGE LEAVES
Serves: 8 (about 1 1/4 cups per serving) / Preparation time: 20 minutes / Total time: 1 hour
You can use any squash in this recipe. If you use uncooked chunks of peeled squash, cook it longer until the squash is tender.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large cloves garlic, peeled, sliced
1 medium onion, peeled, thinly sliced
1 large apple, peeled, diced
2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage
6 to 8 cups leftover cooked Hubbard squash (or your favorite), cut into pieces
6 to 8 cups vegetable or chicken stock, divided
1 to 2 cups water
Canola oil for frying
Couple bunches sage leaves
1/2 to 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream or half-and-half
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Crème fraîche or sour cream for garnish
In a large, heavy pot, melt the butter over moderate heat. Add the garlic and sauté just until fragrant, about 1 minute; do not allow the garlic to brown. Add the onion and sauté until the onion is softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add apple and sauté about 2 minutes. Sprinkle in the rubbed sage and add the squash pieces, 4 cups vegetable stock and 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Cover partially and simmer over low heat until the apples are soft and the mixture can be mashed, about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
Meanwhile, make the fried sage leaves. In a small skillet, heat about 1 inch of canola oil over medium high heat. Working in batches, slip a few sage leaves, soft side down, into the hot oil. They will sizzle for about 15 seconds, once the sizzling stops remove them to a paper towel-lined platter. Repeat with as many sage leaves as you’d like.
Working in batches, transfer the mixture to a blender and purée, adding some of the remaining vegetable stock and water to reach the desired consistency — the soup should thickly cover a spoon. (When using a blender with warm or hot mixtures, do not put the middle cap on the lid of the blender, instead loosely drape a kitchen towel over it so the hot mixture doesn’t explode).
Return the soup to the pot and stir in the heavy whipping cream and season with crushed red pepper, salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Reheat the soup; ladle it into bowls. Garnish with a drizzle or dollop of crème fraîche or sour cream and crispy sage leaves.
From and tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.
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