The main difference between the various creams that are available is the amount of fat content contained within them. The higher the fat content in cream the easier it will be to whip into stable peaks which are needed to achieve a nice, luscious whipped cream. Creams that are higher in fat are also less likely to curdle so they are the best choice for use in hot liquids such as soups or sauces.
- Half-and-Half – As the name would suggest, this cream is composed of half milk and half cream. It has a fat content of 12% which is less fat than light cream but more fat that milk. It is most commonly used in coffee as it adds a nice creaminess however, half-and-half is not suitable for whipping as it is too low in fat. It is also more likely to curdle when added to hot liquids.
- Light Cream – With a 20% fat content it is slightly creamier than half-and-half but still lighter than a whipping or heavy cream. It is suitable as an addition to coffee, scrambled eggs, or drizzled on a dessert. Due to the lower fat content it is not a good choice for whipping or to be added to hot liquids.
- Whipping Cream – As the name would suggest this is the perfect choice for making whipped cream. With a fat content of 35% it will be heavy enough to create stable peaks when whipped and it will not curdle when added to hot soups and sauces. Whipping cream has just slightly less fat than heavy cream however, it is a perfectly acceptable substitution if heavy cream is not available.
- Heavy Cream – At 38% fat this is the creamiest and most rich of the creams. It is nearly identical to whipping cream, less the slightly higher fat content, so they can be used interchangeably. It can be churned into ice cream, whipped beautifully and it will not curdle when added to hot liquids.