“How-To” Cooking – Different Types of Cream

berries-840832_1920.jpg

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.

 

“How-To” Baking – Folding

A common technique in baking is called “folding“. It is a mixing technique that’s used to combine two ingredients or mixtures with different densities, such as a thick batter and fluffy egg whites. If delicate, airy ingredients aren’t incorporated properly they will lose their loft and baked goods will not rise properly.

When folding, add about one fourth of the lighter ingredients to the top of the batter. Using a rubber spatula, slice down the middle of the mixture to the bottom of the bowl and sweep the bottom, gently lifting and bringing the heavier mixture to the top. The goal is to “fold” the heavy batter up and over the lighter mixture without deflating it.

Rotate the bowl 1/4 turn and repeat. Continue this motion until everything is lightly incorporated. Folding in just one fourth to start allows the rest to be folded in more easily. Add the remaining lighter mixture and continue to fold it in quickly but gently just until everything is evenly incorporated. Over mixing will deflate the lighter mixture.

“How-To” Baking – Pastry Bags

A pastry bag is used to pipe frosting, whipped cream, or similar mixtures on to cakes and cupcakes. They can also be used to insert fillings into cakes (jelly, pudding, cream, etc) or to pipe soft mashed potatoes.

There is an almost endless selection of different pastry tips available to purchase, everything from lines to swirls to flowers. Pastry tips also come in a multitude of sizes, some big enough to pipe frosting to cover a whole cake easily and quickly. A basic beginner set is all that is needed to start creating beautifully decorated baked goods.

Wilton Master Decorating Tip Set, 55-Piece decorating tips, 2104-0240

To use a pastry bag just follow these easy steps:

  • Fold the top edge of the pastry bag down to form a “cuff”.
  • Fill the pastry bag about halfway with frosting, cream, etc. Do NOT overfill.
  • Unfold the cuff and press the frosting down towards the tip, twist the top several times to seal.
  • With your dominant hand, grip the bag at the twisted part. Lightly support the bottom of the bag behind the tip with your other hand.
  • Keep the pastry bag at a 45 degree angle holding the tip close to, but not touching, the cake and gently squeeze.
  • Squeeze with steady pressure for an even line. More force will result in larger shapes, less force will result in smaller shapes.
  • Twist the bag regularly to keep it smooth and taught.

“Fooled You” Strawberry Shortcake

19024937_10211736322796909_5968303582361983060_o

Not even going to lie. Sometimes, I don’t make everything homemade. Sometimes I just get a quick craving or family is stopping over unexpectedly and I need a dessert ASAP so I do the next best thing to homemade, I improvise and take a shortcut! And you know what??? I am totally okay with doing that! You should be too! Sure homemade is better but putting together a few store bought ingredients and plating them nicely goes a long way too!

I was craving some strawberry shortcake on this very warm (almost) summer day but I really didn’t have time to bake an angel food cake and whip up some homemade whipped cream. So it was Stop and Shop to the rescue!! I grabbed a bakery made angel food cake, a can of extra creamy Reddi-Whip, some fresh strawberries and I made this little jar of yumminess in no time. The only “work” that was needed was to wash, hull, slice, and macerate the strawberries which is just “fancy speak” for letting them soak in sugar (granulated or powdered) until their juices release. After about 20-30 minutes of soaking they will be nice and syrupy, perfect to pour over strawberry shortcake or even an ice cream sundae!

The key with using store bought items is to make them look a little cuter then they do sitting in their plastic containers or bags. If you plate them well before serving everyone will think you’re an awesome little chef and none will be the wiser. I have an insane collection of bowls, platters, plates, and Mason Jars because, well, Mason Jars are AMAZING! I’ve touted their awesomeness before but it bears repeating, Mason Jars are the BEST! Buy them. Buy A LOT of the. Use them for literally everything! For this quick dessert, they were the perfect vessel to layer my shortcake and it looked so much cuter then just dumping everything into a plain bowl.

I roughly tore up some angel food cake, placed it into the Mason Jar, and then smooshed it down with a spoon. Next I put a nice scoop of strawberries in, then whipped cream, and I repeated the layers (smooshing them down in between each addition) until I was at the top of the jar. The only thing left to do after that was to eat! It was really delicious, super easy to make, and satisfied my craving in no time.

So, the moral of the story is this: Don’t be afraid to take shortcuts. It’s okay. We’re all human, we’re all busy, and sometimes we just need fast and easy. Want to make homemade pizza but don’t have time to make the dough? Buy pre-made. Half homemade is better than nothing! Use the carton of store bought stock. Substitute in jar sauce if you really have to, your baked ziti will still be good. Go ahead and buy those store made brownies!………..a little frosting and sprinkles will go a long way to jazzing it up! In the end, it’s about getting good food on the table without a ton of hassle. While we all would love homemade eats all of the time, being creative and using a few shortcuts here and there will still result in a delicious meal or dessert! Trust me, I know this for sure because my shortcut strawberry shortcake was the bomb! LOL