Heavy cream thickening - there are at least 7 most common ways to thicken heavy cream. One way is by boiling it; others add gelatin, flour, cornstarch, cream cheese, etc.
Why would you want to thicken heavy cream? Let's say you live in the UK and travel to the United States.
When it comes time for cooking UK recipes, they may ask specifically for double cream with higher than average fat contents (around 48%).
Then you will get a problem because the thickest cream in North America has around 35% fat content.
So not all British recipes will work out properly without some extra help. First, you will need to find a way to thicken the heavy cream.
It makes sour cream, sauces, ice cream, frosting, pastries, homemade butter, and cheese.
So how to thicken cream?
The best way to thicken heavy cream depends on what ingredients you have, how much time is available in your schedule, and which solution seems easiest for the task at hand.
This allows you (and hopefully others) an opportunity to work with different methods while finding your favorite way of getting things done quickly without sacrificing quality results.
Get the Ultimate Guide to Baking Basics
Methods that work for you
If you look for a way to thicken your heavy cream without imparting its and other flavors, there are 7 main options, but each has pros and cons.
- Whicking cold cream;
- Boiling the cream until reduced to desired thickness;
- Adding gelatin;
- Adding flour;
- Adding cornstarch;
- Adding guar gum;
- Adding dairy products;
- Other methods.
One way is to boil the heavy cream until it becomes thicker, but this may change its flavor slightly or even make it taste burnt if not careful enough.
Gelatin takes some time and trouble to ensure that everything goes according to what you want.
Using corn starch or flour until the desired thickness will dictate how long you boil or how much you incorporate.
So, the best method is the one that works for you. Let's check out all the ways how to make thickened cream.
Whisking cold cream
One of the best ways to thicken heavy cream is to keep it in the refrigerator until you start whisking it.
Please don't pull it out to the counter until you are ready to work with it. Using room temperature cream will change its texture while whisking.
To ensure that you get the best consistency of the cream, chill the bowl of the stand mixer and whisk attachment before starting.
Follow both best tips by using cold cream and chilled utensils together for optimal results.
Boiling heavy cream
This method is a classic way to thicken heavy cream. However it takes some time and effort, but it's worth doing it.
This method evaporates some liquid out of the cream, becoming thicker.
The process involves constantly whisking to prevent burning while also ensuring minimal change in flavor - and no one can resist that.
So, you should start heating your cream slowly until it reaches boiling temperature.
Let it boil, but it is essential to keep the heat under control. The cream could start curdling if high heat is used, ruining the cream's consistency.
Whisking the cream constantly with a wooden spoon will start to thicken it. The more you cook your cream, the thicker your final product.
Remember that you should whisk it constantly, from beginning to end.
You can adjust the heat to let the cream simmer gently. Once you are delighted with its thickness, turn down the heat to stop cooking.
Check the consistency of the sauce every 5 to 10 minutes to see if it has reached the desired thickness. Don't cook the cream longer than necessary at high temperatures.
What happens when the cream changes flavor? It means you may have burned it.
However, this slightly occurs because of thickening due to boiling. So be aware that your recipe might require some adjustments. So you might need to cook the cream less or more.
Adding gelatin to thicken the heavy cream is one of those easy things that you can do without even thinking about it.
All you will need for this process are appropriate ingredients (powdered gelatin or gelatin sheets), time, plus an understanding of how much gelatin should be used to make your desired effect happen properly.
It is essential that you use unflavored gelatin, so the thickness does not impact your dish's flavor profile.
Using gelatin powder, you will need to use little water (it should be cold) to soak it. Please, read the instructions on the package.
It can be tricky figuring out just how much gelatine you will need for your desired result.
But the general rule of thumb when using powdered or sheets (¼ packet or one gelatine sheet) per 2 cups or 16 oz. of heavy cream will give appropriate levels of thickness.
In both cases, you should warm up the cream then add the gelatine. Make sure to beat the cream while adding gelatine for the cream to thicken correctly.
Adding flour to your heavy cream is pretty easy. The only tricky thing is that you will have to decide on adding the type of flour.
Whether you choose all-purpose flour or other flour variations (for example, wheat, rice tapioca flour), they will not affect the flavor and taste of the cream.
You should mix equal parts of flour with cold water in a small bowl. Stir the mixture with a hand whisk until homogeneous.
Heat the cream, and while whisking, add the flour mixture to the cream, a teaspoon at a time.
For great results, let the cream simmer for about 2 minutes so that you can avoid raw flour taste in the cream, but keep checking the desired thickness.
How much flour should you use? In general, it is required about 1 ⅓ tablespoon or 20 ml of the mixture made of water and flour to thicken one liter of cream.
BUT you can play with the amounts of flour to thicken your cream depending on the thickness you want to obtain.
Heavy cream can be thickened by adding gluten-free alternatives - starches - in much the same manner as flour.
To get started, make sure you have cold water mixed with equal parts cornstarch for the paste-like substance that forms from cornstarch.
Blend the mixture with a hand whisk to avoid clumping up while mixing thoroughly.
Then heat your cream, add the cornstarch mixture, constantly whisking. Let it simmer for a few minutes until the desired thickness of the cream.
In general, you will need about 2 tablespoons or 30 ml of the water and cornstarch mixture for about 1 cup or 230 to 250 ml of cream to be thickened.
Potato starch, another kind of starch, is an excellent thickener and can replace cornstarch to thicken the cream.
There is no significant difference when using flour or starch: just experiment until satisfied.
Adding guar gum
You can also use guar gum as an alternative thickening agent for those who don't want cornstarch or any other starch added to the cream.
It is about eight times stronger than its cornstarch alternative, so you need to add a bit.
Adding dairy products
There also are a few other methods you will be willing to try. One of them suggests using cream cheese.
Simply beat heavy cream until soft and fluffy peaks, then add a tightly packed teaspoon of this dairy product (cream cheese) to one cup of cream and beat until the desired consistency.
For something different in flavor, you might want to try Italian Mascarpone, French Faisselle, creme fraiche, or commercial sour cream - they work similarly to cream cheese.
One more tip for thickening heavy cream using powdered milk: it is enough to add 1 or 2 tablespoons of powdered milk to the cream to see it thicken.
Another easiest way to make your cream thicker is by adding instant pudding, which will give you the perfect consistency in just one package per pint or 473 ml of heavy cream.
The egg yolk is a great way to add thickness and rich flavors to your cream.
Mix cold heavy cream with an extra fresh, raw egg yolk, then cook over low heat until it reaches whatever consistency you want.
Alton Brown offers a coffee filter to remove some of the water from the heavy cream in his recipe.
It seems that his method would preserve the flavor of the cream better than other recipes that involved cooking.
The more traditional approach is to bake heavy cream until it thickens. However, the process can take up to 1 day, and you will end up with Devonshire (or Devon) cream, which contains 55-60% fat content in your finished product.
Heavy cream is a staple in many recipes. You can find it used as an ingredient for ice cream, sour milk, cream sauce, soup, to name just a few.
The choice of which method you use will depend on what kind of recipe requires thickening.
So take care when choosing because there is no going back once it's been added altogether with other ingredients.
Heavy cream known as heavy whipping cream is the thick, rich part of milk that rises to the top. It has one of the highest fat contents compared to other dairy products. Heavy cream contains about 36-40% milk fat and is typically used in baking or cooking for its rich flavor.
No, they are not the same. While heavy cream has 36 to 40% fat content, whipping cream only has about 30% fat content. It means that heavy cream is thicker and better at holding shape.
There are several ways to thicken heavy cream, such as whisking it, reducing it, adding gelatin, flour, cornstarch, guar gum, mixing with cream cheese, etc.
Reducing heavy cream on the stove is one of the ways to thicken the cream. While constantly whisking, you should carefully bring it to a boil, then adjust the heat so that you can maintain an active simmer for a few minutes.
Yes, heavy cream can be reduced on the stovetop, creating a vibrant and creamy base.
The heavy cream will thicken as you heat it, which is called boiling or reducing. The longer you heat the cream, the more excess liquid evaporates, the thicker the final product will eventually become.
Among common mistakes, the most common reason for not thickening your heavy cream is not chilling your cream and whisking utensils. Using them cold ensures the best texture.
Whisking the cold heavy cream until firm peaks takes about 8 minutes.