When you are baking or cooking, you probably use cream or whipping cream. You would be surprised to know these two are not always the same. Using the wrong one can make all the difference in your dish.
Stay tuned to see how heavy cream and whipping cream are similar and different. You will never make the mistake of confusing these two ever again.
What Is Heavy Cream?
Heavy cream is the thickest part of the milk that collects at the top because it has more fat. As the name suggests, this dairy product is 35 to 40% fat, making it one of the highest in fat. It is also called heavy whipping cream, but it is the same product.
If you like cooking or baking, then you know how important heavy cream is for many purposes. It is used to add density, creaminess, and sweetness to desserts, ganache, and fudge. Since it has more fat, it holds shape longer than other dairy products.
Heavy cream also lasts longer after opening and can be frozen without any problem. Many foods contain this type of cream, including creamy soups, sauces, bisque, potatoes, and salad dressings. In some cases, the cream is also added to eggs to keep them fluffy and airy.
While commercial heavy cream has to be at least 35 to 30% fat, many restaurants and foodservice facilities use a heavier cream with over 40% fat. Heavy cream can become whipping cream. The main idea is that it will result in firmer peaks and hold the shape you desire in any dessert.
Because of its fat content, when you add heavy cream to a soup, sauce, or hot dish, it will not curdle. The lower the fat content in your dairy product, the more prone it is to curdling. You can also use heavy cream as an emulsion because of its stability.
Due to its higher fat content, heavy cream is rich in flavor and slightly sweet. For baking purposes, you will likely have to add sugar to it. However, in savory dishes, it can go by itself and add enough flavor to your meal.
One cup of heavy cream (240 g) has the following nutritional content (*):
- 816 calories
- 138 g water
- 6.82 g protein
- 86.6 g fat
- 6.82 g carbohydrate
- 0 g fiber
- 7.01 g sugar
- 158 mg calcium
- 0.24 mg iron
- 16.8 mg magnesium
- 139 mg phosphorus
- 228 mg potassium
- 64.8 mg sodium
- 1.44 mg vitamin C
- 40.3 mg choline
- 986 µg vitamin A
- 3.84 µg vitamin D
- 3.77 g polyunsaturated fatty acids
- 271 mg cholesterol
Is Heavy Cream Healthy?
The short answer is no. Heavy cream is not a healthy choice, but it can be useful and sometimes essential. It is high in fat, as its name suggests, and contains a lot of calories.
Since it is dairy, heavy cream does have some health benefits. It is high in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, choline, vitamin A, and vitamin D. These are all essential micronutrients that are sometimes lacking in the regular American diet.
Although not the best source of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, heavy cream does contain some of these from milk. These fatty acids must be obtained through diet, as the body cannot produce them. Omega 3 is particularly beneficial, as it is anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, which prevents chronic illnesses and inflammation.
As you can see from its nutrient profile, heavy cream is over 35% fat, which results in high caloric content and some cholesterol. When cooking, you should be mindful of this because it will raise the fat and calorie content of your meal. It is important to know that you should not use heavy cream every day and in every dish.
Unlike other dairy products, this one is mostly fat and has a low sugar and carbohydrate content. It is safe to use for individuals that follow a high fat, low carb diet, but not for everyone. If you suffer from heart disease or high cholesterol, you should avoid heavy cream.
Finally, it is also important to know that the properties of heavy cream all derive from its fat content. This is why you will need to use it when preparing certain dishes, such as desserts, pies, merengue, and creamy sauces. Still, be mindful of portion sizes because the calories and fat add up quickly.
What Is Whipping Cream?
Whipping cream is cream that has been whipped with a whisk or mixer until it is fluffy. It is lighter in fat content with about 30 to 35%. Whipped cream holds its shape due to the formation of a colloid through the expansion of gas.
In most cases, whipping cream contains sugar and vanilla. Sometimes whipped cream is called Chantilly cream. When you overwhip this cream, it loses its shape and becomes buttery once you destroy the colloid.
Because of its popularity, you can also see commercial prepared whipped cream. This type of whipping cream comes in an aerosol can. The gas dissolves the gas under pressure, which is then released to form air bubbles, resulting in the familiar fluffy shape.
You will likely see whipping cream in many recipes, but most of them are sweet. Common ones include ice cream topping, milkshakes, hot chocolate, cheesecake, pie, and pudding. It might also come on top of the coffee.
Since it has a lower fat content, whipping cream is not the best choice when making sauces or creams. It is sold unsweetened and can be used similarly to heavy cream, but the texture and flavor are different.
There are also imitations of whipping cream that you can find commercially. These are often called whip toppings and might not contain any dairy at all. Artificial whipping cream contains partially hydrogenated oil, sweetener, water, and a stabilizer.
One cup of whipping cream (40 g) has the following nutritional content (*):
- 137 calories
- 21.7 g water
- 1.07 g protein
- 13.6 g fat
- 3.44 g carbohydrate
- 0 g fiber
- 3.42 g sugar
- 24.8 mg calcium
- 0.04 mg iron
- 2.8 mg magnesium
- 22 mg phosphorus
- 35.6 mg potassium
- 10.4 mg sodium
- 0.24 mg vitamin C
- 6.32 mg choline
- 155 µg vitamin A
- 0.6 µg vitamin D
- 0.592 g polyunsaturated fatty acids
- 42.4 mg cholesterol
Is Whipping Cream Healthy?
Because it contains less fat, whipping cream can be a healthier alternative on certain occasions. However, most recipes require sugar to be added, which increases the caloric content. Since it is so light and fluffy, you will not need to use it as much.
Since it comes from dairy, whipping cream also has some nutrients in it. These include calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and choline. However, it is lower in these than heavy cream because it is lighter and contains more air.
While it is edible and quite flavorful, fondant is not healthy. You can use it and eat it sometimes, but it is not the best choice because it is high in sugar and calories. Most people find this icing to be excessively sugary and prefer not to eat it.
Like heavy cream, whipping cream also contains some polyunsaturated fatty acids. The amount is much lower and almost negligent. It is best not to count on whipping cream to be your main source of essential fatty acids.
Although lower in fat, 30 to 35% is still a large amount when it comes to food. You can see above that most of the calories come from the fat content of the whipping cream. This results in higher calories and cholesterol too.
When given the opportunity, whipping cream can be a lighter substitute to heavy cream. Still, it is not the same consistency, so it will not always be used in the same way. Using a better source of sugar when you bake or cook with whipping cream can also help make it more nutritious.
What Are The Key Differences Between Heavy Cream and Whipping Cream?
The first and main difference between heavy cream and whipping cream is their fat content. As the name states, heavy cream is high in fat with about 35 to 40% or more. Whipping cream is lower in fat by about 30 to 35%.
The next difference makes sense because one ingredient has more fat. Heavy cream is higher in calories than whipping cream. For about the same serving size of one tablespoon, the caloric content of heavy cream is around eight calories extra.
Although similar, the consistency and texture of these two foods are not the same. Heavy cream is often part of sauces, soups, casseroles, and desserts. While you can use whipping cream in this way, it might not have the cohesiveness you need, so it is almost always for desserts.
When it comes to whipping, the result is different too. Due to its higher fat content, heavy cream results in a firmer and denser peak when you whip it. Whipping cream instead turns fluffy and airy.
These two products come in the same presentation, but whipping cream might come prepared. Heavy cream is often sold in a carton container by the dairy section. Whipping cream can come in the same container or might be commercially prepared in an aerosol can ready for use.
Finally, these two dairy foods do not cost the same. Heavy cream is more expensive because it is denser, and you will likely need less than whipping cream. Since you can find premade whipping cream, it can be much cheaper.
|Main Differences||Heavy Cream||Whipping Cream|
|Origin||United States||Italy and France|
|Fat Content||35 to 40%||30 to 35%|
|Consistency||Thick and creamy||Fluffy and airy|
|Uses||Soups, sauces, bisque, casseroles, and baking||Baking and as a topping for ice cream, milkshakes, other beverages, and desserts|
|Cost||$1.99 to 7.99 per pint||$1.99 to 3.99 per pint|
|Calories per 1 cup||816 calories||137 calories|
Is Heavy Cream or Whipping foream Healthier?
Between these two products, whipping cream is healthier. These two products are both high in fat, but whipping cream is lighter. Nonetheless, use both sparingly and know that they will increase the caloric content.
When it comes to cooking and baking, whipping cream is often the best choice. However, it might require more sugar to compensate for the light texture. If you can use it as is, this might be the healthier choice.
You can also try and use an alternative to lower the fat content of your meal, such as coconut or almond milk substitutes. When it is not possible, you can keep using heavy cream and whipping cream, but in moderation. Either way, these two serve somewhat different purposes in cooking and baking.
While they seem the same, heavy cream and whipping cream are not the same. Now you are aware of their differences and can choose the right one depending on what you are preparing. Keep in mind their nutrient profile before you make a decision.
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*Photo by sarahdoow/depositphotos
*Photo by wirestock_creators/depositphotos