Heavy cream is a dairy ingredient that is widely used in recipes and dishes by tons of people. It comes with so many appealing properties that make it a favorite option for preparing tasty meals and treats. And when used, these qualities are notable in both the texture and taste of the recipe prepared.
Heavy Cream: What Is It?
But what exactly is heavy cream? Well, as the name implies, heavy cream is cream with the highest amount of butterfat, compared to the other types. It’s usually derived from high-fat fresh milk during processing. When the milk is left to stand, the thick, fat-rich part rises to the top in form of a cream, which is then scraped off. Sometimes also called heavy whipping cream, the fat content is around 36 to 40 percent, and since this is by U.S. standards, it may even be higher in other regions, sometimes reaching 48!
While its fat content may seem alarming, it does have its advantages regarding how it complements a recipe. Heavy cream offers more body than its counterparts to recipes that require such, as it doesn’t curdle as quickly as they do. This means a creamier base, with a fuller appearance, like what is mostly needed in ice cream and many cream-based desserts. It also allows the volume to double when whipped, which adds more quantity and fullness to any recipe.
Heavy cream is also richer and creamier in taste and is a popular addition to many dishes such as casseroles, soups, and sauces. Its rich flavor and full bodywork well in these savory dishes, making it one of the most common staple ingredients in cooking and baking. Its application is so wide; it’s a regular addition in many popular recipes such as;
- Pasta Sauce
- Ice Cream
- Coffee creamer
- Poultry and beef casseroles
- No-bake pie
- Salad dressings
- Mushroom soup
- Ricotta cheese
- Custard desserts
- Potato soup
- Scrambled eggs
- Creamed biscuits
Heavy Cream Substitutes: Who Needs It?
While heavy cream gives any recipe a delicious flavor with a rich, full texture and body, not everyone can handle its high-fat content. Lactose-intolerant people can’t enjoy its advantages, and as such, won’t use them in their dishes. Also, many people who wish to watch their weight gain will frown at recipes that require the use of heavy cream. This also goes for those on a vegan, or strict zero-dairy diet.
Heavy Cream Non-Dairy Substitutes
Many people who worry about the high dairy content of heavy cream feel they’ll miss out on its many perks. Luckily, tons of non-dairy substitutes can be found which will replicate heavy cream in richness, flavor, and fullness. Some of these options are also highly nutritious and can be made easily in your kitchen. A few of the best ones available are listed below;
This is probably the best non-dairy alternative for heavy cream. Coconut cream is not only tasty but also rich in minerals. And, it’s closest in consistency to heavy cream and whips almost the same. As an added advantage, it’s also pretty easy to make. All you need is a can of full-fat coconut milk, which you can substitute at a 1:1 ratio as what the recipe requires of heavy cream!
When getting a can of coconut milk, be sure to check if it’s non-dairy, as some products tend to be. Regardless, coconut cream is a perfect alternative for baked goods and dessert toppings and also works well for pasta and many other savory dishes. You must note, however, the coconut taste, so only use it for savory dishes that are strong enough to overpower this.
Soy Milk and Olive Oil
Soy milk has been known to be one of the best non-dairy milk available, so it’s no surprise that it found its way into our list of heavy cream substitutes. And it does this well when mixed with olive oil.
Mix 2/3 cups of soy milk with 1/3 cup of extra light olive oil, and you’ll get 1 cup of a proper non-dairy heavy cream substitute. And though this tasty alternative may not blend well in desserts, it’s great for adding richness and fullness to soups, baked goods, and sauces.
Pureed Silken Tofu and Soy Milk
To make this, add some soy milk to 1 cup of pureed silken tofu and blend. Keep adding the soy milk to thin the mixture, until the texture is smooth. Tofu is extremely high in protein and calories, and when combined with soy milk, you get a nutritious, non-dairy, heavy cream substitute. However, this blend doesn’t whip, but you still get a thick consistency, depending on how much silken tofu you use. And it works great for savory dishes and can sit as a topping for desserts if you add a dash of vanilla extract to the mix.
Cashew nuts are rich in protein and minerals and are a great, low-fat, non-dairy option for making a heavy cream substitute. You’ll need to soak 1 cup of cashew nuts for about 2-3 hours. Then, drain, and blend in ¾ cup of water with a pinch of salt until smooth. The thickness and flavor work great for cream-based soups and tomato sauces. And if you want it as a topping for desserts, simply chill for a bit, then lightly whisk with a handheld blender.
White Bean Cream
White beans are rich in fiber and protein and make a great substitute for heavy cream in savory dishes. To make 1 cup of this, blend 1 cup of cooked white beans with little water in a blender. Keep adding water till the consistency is smooth and thick. You can also use low-sodium canned beans if cooking it yourself seems like too much work. Whichever you choose, this highly nutritious alternative is great for thickening soups and sauces.
Things to Consider Before Choosing Non-Dairy Heavy Cream Substitutes
It’s important to note that while these recipes are great non-dairy options for replacing heavy cream, they may not all work the same way. While some may be perfect in both taste and consistency for sweet dishes like desserts, they may fail in savory ones like sauces and casseroles, and vice versa. Also, you must consider allergies when choosing substitutes that contain nuts or vegetable oils.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is heavy cream and whipping cream the same thing?
Though both are considered the same in general terms, there’s a significant difference in their fat content. Heavy cream fat percentage is at least 36% while whipping creams is at 30%. This difference gives heavy cream higher superiority regarding holding shape longer. It also gives it a thicker, heavier texture than whipping cream.
Can you use almond milk in place of heavy cream?
While it can’t be used alone as a substitute for heavy cream, almond milk can be combined with other ingredients like soy, canola, or rice oil, to prepare a non-dairy alternative.
Is heavy cream Keto approved?
Yes. When on a keto diet, your body burns fat as a primary source of body fuel. And because heavy cream has high fat and low-carb, it may further encourage the body system on its route to a state of consistent ketosis.
Being unable to consume dairy doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the benefits of heavy cream. With any of these substitutes above, the same taste and effects can be achieved in your dishes and recipes. Remember to keep an open mind when trying these ideas, so you can master the best ways to apply them to your dishes every time.