A lot of people do not realize that there are actually quite a few different types of cream until they get into the world of cooking.
Out of all the different types of creams that people use to help add flavor, texture, and volume to their foods, there is one type of cream that is known for being particularly heavy and dense: heavy cream.
When people opt to use heavy cream in their recipes, they will usually find that it adds far more texture and volume to food than most other types of creams do. However, there is a chance that the heavy cream you have doesn’t suit your needs.
Whether you are looking for something thicker or you want to achieve a different texture than the one that heavy cream can add to your food, there are a few different ways that you can go about adding thickness to heavy cream.
The way that you go about thickening your heavy cream will depend entirely on what ingredients you have, how much time you want to spend working with the cream, and which solution seems to be the easiest one for your situation.
This allows you to work with all the different methods for thickening heavy cream and determine which one shall become your go-to method.
Finding Which Method Works for You
In essence, there are three different ways that you can add more thickness to heavy cream.
You can choose to heat it up, boil it, and whisk it until it reaches your desired thickness without altering the flavor or burning.
You can also add gelatin to your heavy cream as gelatin is a common ingredient that is used for thickening foods.
Similarly, you could also choose to add cornstarch or flour as these are both standard thickening agents.
Each one has its pros and cons to it.
Boiling the heavy cream absolutely has the chance of burning and even if it doesn’t burn, it may change the flavor slightly.
Adding gelatin can be time-consuming and troublesome, especially if you have never worked with gelatin before.
And deciding how much flour to add, mixing it up into a fine mixture, and seeing if the cream is thicker can also be troublesome.
It may take some trial and error to find out which method is going to be the best one for your needs.
1 – Boiling the Heavy Cream
This method can often be considered the most time-consuming and the most involved, as you will have to constantly whisk the heavy cream to ensure that the flavor change is minimal and that there is little chance of it burning. With that being said, the concept itself is one of the simplest ones.
You will want to carefully begin heating up the heavy cream until it reaches a boiling temperature.
The reason why you will want to take caution during this is that heating up the cream too fast and not properly whisking it enough will cause the heavy cream to curdle, which is the opposite of what you want.
After you hit a boiling temperature, you will want to continue whisking it so that it both doesn’t burn and it begins to thicken.
The amount that it will thicken while you do this will be dependent on how long you boil the cream for. The longer you keep everything heated up, the thicker it will eventually become.
Once you reach the desired thickness of your heavy cream, you can begin to turn the heat down.
Once it reaches a heat that your mouth can tolerate, you should taste the heavy cream to determine whether or not the change in taste (which comes naturally when you choose to heat milk products up) will affect the dish that you are trying to make.
Keep in mind that a change in taste is completely normal and needs to be accounted for if you are going to be using the heavy cream as a major component in a baking recipe.
The change in taste doesn’t necessarily mean that you have burned the cream, as burnt cream will generally taste burnt, but it is something that you need to keep in mind while you are doing this.
2 – Adding Gelatin to the Heavy Cream
This option is considered to be one of the easiest ways to thicken heavy cream without affecting the taste of it. All you will need for this is the appropriate amount of gelatin.
It can be hard to determine just how much gelatin you will need to get the job done but once you determine how much you need, adding it to the heavy cream will be one of the easiest things that you can do.
Once you have found how much gelatin you will need to thicken the heavy cream with, you will need to read the instructions that come with the gelatin on how to properly incorporate it into the heavy cream.
Incorporating it wrong can result in poor texture and only localized areas of increased thickness, which can completely change the cream from what you need it to be.
You will also often need a little bit of water to help with incorporating the gelatin and this should be something that you can obtain easily. Typically, you will need a little bit more water than gelatin as well.
While you are incorporating it, it is important to take things slowly and smoothly.
Pouring and mixing in too much of the gelatin at once can result in a texture that you don’t want and pouring it in too slowly can mean that it will take a lot longer to reach the desired texture.
While you are pouring the gelatin into the heavy cream, remember that you should be beating the cream to ensure that all aspects of it are exposed to the gelatin so that it can thicken properly.
3 – Adding Flour or Cornstarch to the Heavy Cream
Adding either flour or cornstarch to your heavy cream recipe is fairly easy. In fact, the most complicated thing that you will have to do is determine whether you prefer to use flour (or a variation of flour) or cornstarch (or even a variation of starch).
Most flours and starches will have the same effect on heavy cream so you won’t need to worry too much about choosing one that will affect the overall taste and flavor of the cream.
From here, you will want to mix the flour (or cornstarch) and cold water together, whisking it so that it becomes a mixture rather than two separate components of a recipe.
Doing this will also ensure that the flour doesn’t clump when you eventually get it into the heavy cream, allowing you to keep a smooth and even texture throughout the thickened heavy cream.
After that, you will want to add the water and flour (or cornstarch) mixture into your heavy cream about one teaspoon at a time, mixing it in thoroughly.
You will want to keep doing this until you achieve the thickness you are looking for. Once you are done with that, you may want to consider tasting the heavy cream to check and see if there is a raw flour taste to it as there can be with adding flour to anything.
If there is, all you have to do is simmer the heavy cream for a bit to get rid of that taste; before you know it, you will have the perfect heavy cream to use for your recipe.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.