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All About Cream

Ah, cream how wonderful. Luscious and smooth, there's nothing that spells dessert satisfaction, like cream. The other night, at a local restaurant, my husband and I ordered dessert. He ordered the Tiramisu and I, a Napoleon. We shared our desserts with our 5-year-old daughter. You would have thought it was a scene from When Harry Met Sally. She carried on by moaning and cooing, all while eating our creamy desserts. She just hasn't learned, as we adults have, to control herself in public. We all feel the same way about these creamy desserts, but we can only express it in our heads.

There are so many types of creams, it can be confusing. There's the cream that is simply made by separating fat from milk.

Then there are creams used in desserts that don't have any cream in them at all. Below are some definitions that should help end the confusion.

Chantilly Cream
Is another name for vanilla-flavored whipped cream. Note: In Italy, crema chantilly is made by folding whipped cream into crema pasticcera (pastry cream) to make a wonderfully decadent concoction.

Clotted Cream
Is cream that is scalded. This helps to prevent the development of bacteria. Clotted cream is basically consumed and produced commercially in England. It is usually served with pies and scones.

Creme Fraiche
Is cream that has a sharp flavor (but not sour flavor) that is achieved by an added bacteria. This cream is used often in French cooking.

Is a mixture of half cream and half milk. The milk fat content is about 10 percent. This cream cannot be whipped.

Heavy Cream
Has the highest amount of milk fat, which is usually between 36 and 40 percent in the United States and as high as 48 percent elsewhere. In the U.S., this cream is mostly found in gourmet food stores. If you can get this, it makes the richest whipped cream.

Light Cream
Is used more for a pouring cream, like into coffee and onto fruits. This cream has about 18 percent milk fat.

Pastry Cream
Is not a cream at all. It is a filling for desserts such as a Napoleon.

Sour Cream
Is the a cream that has about 18 percent milk fat. The cream is "soured" by the addition of bacteria.

Spray Can Whipped Cream
Some of these cans actually do have real cream in them and some are made from hydrogenated vegetable oils. Be sure to read the can before purchasing one.

Whipping Cream
Is the cream which is usually sold in the U.S. There is 35 percent milk fat in this cream. This is what is used to make whipped cream.

Whipped Topping
Is not cream at all. It's made with water, corn syrup, vegetable oil(s), xanthan and guar gums and more. The only ingredient that mentions milk is sodium caseinate, which comes from milk. Now, that being said, I don't know many people who don't use whipped topping from time to time. There are so many recipes that call specifically for it, because it's convenient and doesn't spoil easily.

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