In most baking recipes, two important ingredients that can be mandatory are condensed milk and heavy cream. Although they are used differently, there is still a misconception that they are the same. This article will discuss everything you need about condensed milk v/s heavy cream!
For people who are used to baking, condensed milk and heavy cream may seem like two completely different entities. Of course, since they are indeed used in very different ways. However, whipped cream is also a dairy product; it can get confusing. But these two dairy products are very different from each other!
There are many differences between condensed milk and heavy cream. However, one of the main differences is that condensed milk has much less water and a lot more sugar than heavy cream. For this reason, they also have very different functions in various recipes.
At a glance, especially for someone who isn’t used to either of these ingredients, it might be difficult to tell them apart. They are both dairy products and are mostly used in baking, which may make it even more confusing.
But there are indeed so many differences between these two dairy products! It is what to them having different functions. Further in this article, we will discuss all the differences between condensed milk and heavy cream. So, let’s start right away!
Condensed Milk Vs. Heavy Cream | The Difference Table
We will be discussing each of these differences, a lot more in detail, later in this article. However, before we do that, let us glance at the basic differences you can expect between condensed milk and heavy cream.
|Basis Of Difference||Condensed Milk||Heavy Cream|
|Consistency||Thick and sticky, like a syrup||Thicker than milk but still has a thin consistency|
|Water Content||40 %||67 %|
|Sugar Content||45 % added sugar||No added sugar|
|Flavor||Very sweet and rich||Rich milk-like flavor|
|Packaging||Canned||Bottled or in a carton|
|Shelf Life||1 Month||1 Week|
|How They Are Made||Water is evaporated from milk, then sugar is added||Fat is separated from the milk, and the rest is packaged|
|Nutrition||High in calories and sugar, with no essential nutrients||Lower in calories with no sugar and some essential nutrients|
|Uses||Used to add sweetness and moisture to various recipes||Used to add richness, moisture, and also creaminess.|
What Is Condensed Milk?
Condensed milk is one of those ingredients you have seen quite often displayed at supermarkets. However, it isn’t used daily when it comes to cooking. Condensed milk, due to its properties, is most suitable for baking.
Moreover, because it is usually highly sweet, baking is one of the only places condensed milk can be used. So, if you aren’t a regular at making sweet treats, it may be a little confusing to differentiate between condensed milk and other dairy products.
As the name suggests, condensed milk is a dairy product made with milk. It has a thick and sticky texture and is made by reducing the water content in milk. Usually, about 60 % of the water content is removed from milk to create a thick and dense dairy product.
Condensed milk, moreover, is also sweetened and sold as sweetened condensed milk. That is how most places sell it. It has about 45 % added sugar, which helps add flavor and texture, mainly to baked goods and several other sweet treats.
What Is Heavy Cream?
Heavy cream is yet another common dairy product sold across the world. Moreover, the thing with heavy cream is the fact that it is used not only to make desserts but for savory food as well. Heavy cream is also a very common ingredient in various beverages.
More people might be familiar with this dairy product compared to condensed milk. There are different types of creams available in the market. The only thing that differentiates them from each other is the fat content. By definition, this is what heavy cream is.
Heavy cream, just like condensed milk, is a dairy product made with milk. The cream is the layer of fat that forms on top of milk before it undergoes homogenization. It has a thicker consistency than milk; however, not thick like condensed milk.
Another thing about heavy cream is that it is very neutral in flavor. It tastes like a fattier version of milk, with just a slight amount of natural sweetness. It is one of the reasons why this dairy product is versatile and used for savory recipes, along with various beverages.
Condensed Milk Vs. Heavy Cream | Differences Between The Two
Earlier in the table, we saw some basic differences between condensed milk and heavy cream. In this section, let’s discuss each of these differences in detail.
Consistency is one of the main and most noticeable differences between condensed milk and heavy cream. While they are kept next to each other, it is easy to tell them apart just by how different they look.
Condensed milk tends to have a thick and sticky consistency. It happens because of two reasons. Firstly, quite a lot of water from condensed milk evaporates. So, with just a small amount of water left, condensed milk gets thick.
Moreover, the added sugar also adds to the thick consistency of this dairy product. Heavy cream, on the other hand, is less thick. It is only slightly thicker than regular milk, as it has a much higher amount of fat.
2. Water Content
As you know, condensed milk and heavy cream have very different uses. So, to make them appropriate for the purpose that they are meant for, some processing is carried out with milk.
Technically, condensed milk goes through much more processing compared to heavy cream. The first process that milk goes through to produce condensed milk is to get rid of all the extra water content to give it a thick texture.
In this process, the water content of the condensed milk is brought down to 40% from its original form. It is much less than heavy cream’s water content, about 65-70%.
3. Sugar Content
Most dairy products tend to have a specific purpose. Condensed milk, technically, is made for sweet treats more than anything else. It gives them the glistening texture that they need.
Moreover, condensed milk is a great substitute for eggs in many cases! So, the thick and glossy texture we are used to seeing with condensed milk is something other than what can be obtained just by reducing the water content.
To make it thick and glossy and of the right consistency, it has about 45% of extra added sugar. Heavy cream, on the other hand, considering its versatility, does not have any amount of added sugar to it.
For those who aren’t as well-versed in cooking, it may seem odd to know that certain dairy products have different colors. Of course, if you take into account the direct derivatives of milk, like heavy cream, there isn’t much of a difference between that and the color of milk.
However, condensed milk has a very different color than heavy cream. It is glossy and yellowish compared to the standard off-white color of heavy cream.
There are indeed two reasons behind this. The first reason is that condensed milk has reduced water content, which means it has a thick consistency. Moreover, the added sugar also changes the overall color of this dairy product.
You can expect that eventual milky aftertaste with dairy products, regardless of the product. It is a characteristic you will find in all products made with milk, regardless of their consistency.
However, besides the base flavor, there are many differences between the authentic flavors of condensed milk and heavy cream. If you try heavy cream as it is, it will taste just like milk.
The only difference is that heavy cream will give you a much fattier mouthfeel than regular milk. Condensed milk, on the other hand, is exceptionally sweet, thanks to the 45% of added sugar.
With condensed milk and heavy cream, there also lie some obvious differences in how each is packed. Usually, most dairy products are either bottled or sold in cartons.
This is also the case with heavy cream. But you may have seen condensed milk being sold in cans. The reason behind this is that condensed milk was originally made to export to people who don’t have access to fresh milk.
So, condensed milk would help them get the nutrients they need from dairy. While importing and exporting, cans turned out to be an easier way to pack condensed milk as that way, it stayed fresh for much longer and was also easier to transport.
7. Shelf Life
The difference between the shelf lives of condensed milk and heavy cream is poles apart! With heavy cream, unopened cartons or bottles usually have a “Use By” date printed on them.
In most cases, an unopened carton of heavy cream should be okay for a week. Once opened, it should be used within a maximum of two days. However, the situation is completely different with condensed milk.
It is because of the reduced water content and added sugar that both do wonders for its shelf life. An unopened can of condensed milk will last for a long time at room temperature and should be used within a week.
8. How They Are Made
Although condensed milk and heavy cream are derived from milk, you already know many differences. The whole reason behind these differences is considering how each is made.
There isn’t much that goes about in the production of heavy cream. The fat in the milk is separated with various methods and then packaged for further use. The fat content can vary highly, depending on the type of cream.
In the case of condensed milk, no separation of fat happens. Instead, milk is reduced until the desired amount of water has evaporated; then, a sufficient amount of sugar is added before packaging.
Dairy products, in general, are rich in various nutrients. They are good sources of a lot of macro and micronutrients and hence, something that people prefer having. Heavy cream has almost all the nutrients you expect in regular milk.
The only difference is that heavy cream has a higher fat content. Otherwise, the base nutritional values stay very similar to that of milk. Condensed milk, on the other hand, has barely any nutritional value.
While the water is evaporated, some of the nutrients also tend to disperse. Moreover, the high-added sugar adds some calories to condensed milk. However, they are just empty calories.
Lastly, one of the major differences between condensed milk and heavy cream is how each of them is used. They are both products derived from milk, with really different uses from each other.
Heavy cream, and heavier milk, are added to sweet and savory recipes. You can do this to add as a rich flavor as possible and, in most cases, also make the base thicker.
Condensed milk comparatively has very limited uses. Considering its highly sweet flavor, condensed milk is used mainly only to make desserts and, sometimes, added to beverages. Condensed milk gives desserts a glossy texture and helps bind the ingredients together.
Condensed Milk Vs. Heavy Cream | Similarities Between The Two
In the previous section, we discussed several differences between condensed milk and heavy cream. This proves that there are indeed a lot of differences between the two. However, keeping those aside, there are also a few similarities between the two! Let’s take a look at some of them here.
1. What They Are Made From
Although condensed milk and heavy cream have a lot of differences, the main fact remains that they are both dairy products. Both condensed milk and heavy cream are originally derived from milk.
The processing that they both go through is very different from each other, which gives them different properties. But, if you don’t consider plant-based products, then both these forms of milk are derived from regular milk.
Again, condensed milk has a lot of sugar added to it. The nutritional values go a little here and there; most calories are from sugar. Heavy cream is very dense nutritionally in comparison to condensed milk.
However, the basic fact remains here: they are both made from milk. So, although in varying amounts, some of the nutrients remain the same in dairy products, like calcium, protein, and fat.
3. Used For Desserts And Beverages
The last similarity between condensed milk and heavy cream is that they are both used to make desserts and beverages. Yet again, their uses differ as they have varying properties.
However, they are both used quite often in desserts and beverages. Condensed milk is mainly added for flavor and binding, whereas heavy cream is used for the added creamy texture in desserts and beverages.
Top Condensed Milk Recipes To Try
Although the chances of condensed milk being the main ingredient in a recipe are minimal, it still is a very important ingredient in various recipes. Here are some top recipes that you could try out with condensed milk.
1. No-Bake Cheesecake
As condensed milk adds many flavors and helps with thickening, it is often used for no-bake cheesecake recipes. The baked counterpart also uses condensed milk in some cases. However, that is mostly limited to when the cheesecake has to be eggless.
But, since eggs cannot be added to something that isn’t cooked, condensed milk plays a vital role in these recipes. It does the same thing as eggs do, which is to help thicken the mixture and also help with holding its shape, along with a rich sweet flavor.
Another easy and very common recipe where condensed milk is used quite often is to make truffles. Truffles are one of the easiest chocolates to make and don’t need expertise or prior knowledge.
If we take chocolate truffles as an example, the main ingredients in this recipe are always some cocoa powder and condensed milk. Here, condensed milk gives the truffles a structure and adds the much-needed sweet flavor.
Fudge is another one of those exceptionally easy desserts to make. A fudge barely needs any time, ingredients, or expertise and can easily be brought together. Moreover, it is versatile when it comes to flavors!
With most fudge recipes, condensed milk is usually one of the main ingredients. Fudge is not baked; hence, condensed milk adds a glossy texture to it and helps the fudge thicken and retain its shape well.
4. Banana Bread
A great way to use condensed milk and bread and cake recipes is to use it in place of eggs. Their simplest recipe is banana bread, where condensed milk works well!
You must use the same amount of condensed milk by weight as the number of eggs you would use. Condensed milk will help bring all the ingredients together and give the bread a nice glossy finish.
5. Cold Brew
Another efficient way of using condensed milk is by adding it to several beverages. Although you can easily choose the beverage where you would like to use condensed milk, I have taken a cold brew as an example.
For some sweetness, cold brews tend to add flavored syrups to them. However, these syrups can easily be replaced with condensed milk of the same amount. The condensed milk will provide a sweet flavor and make the cold brew rich and creamy.
Top Heavy Cream Recipes To Try
1. Chocolate Ganache
One of the best and most common uses of heavy cream, at least when baking, is to make a chocolate ganache. A chocolate ganache is a simple chocolate frosting used to frost rich chocolate cakes.
Chocolate ganache is rich, thick, and creamy; one of the main reasons behind that is adding heavy cream. If you would try using other dairy products in its place, like milk or even cream with a lower fat content, it won’t make the ganache thick like it is supposed to be.
Want to make an exceptionally easy mousse at home? You can do that without worrying too much if you have some heavy cream! Yes, heavy cream can be whipped as well.
Heavy cream, once whipped, gets light and fluffy. While this is folded in with ingredients like chocolate, they create a light base, creating a creamy and delicious mousse. You can also garnish the mousse with some whipped heavy cream!
3. Alfredo Pasta
Alfredo pasta is just gooey, creamy, and oh-so-delicious! It is versatile as well and can be made by adding several ingredients, both vegetarian and nonvegetarian as well. One of the base ingredients in this pasta sauce is heavy cream.
Heavy cream helps give the pasta a rich and creamy texture. It isn’t something that can be obtained using thinner products, like milk or even cream with lower fat content. This pasta goes especially well with added toppings like chicken and bacon too!
4. Creme Brulee
A dessert where heavy cream is one of the main ingredients is creme brulee. Of course, the ‘creme’ in its name has to stand for something- in this case, some heavy cream! There are a lot of other added ingredients in a creme brulee.
But the creamy base that melts in your mouth is usually made with heavy cream. Again, this isn’t a texture that can be obtained just by using any other milk-based product. Heavy cream works best, so most chefs prefer using it for creme brulee recipes.
Coffee is a beverage where most people prefer adding some dairy products. In this case, heavy cream cannot be used like condensed milk, as it does not have similar properties and is not as thick.
However, if you want your coffee to be extra thick and creamy, try adding heavy cream instead of regular milk. This can be done not just for coffee but any beverage that you would like to have a creamy and thick texture.
Condensed Milk Vs. Heavy Cream | Which One Is Healthier?
Most dairy-based products, simply because they are derived from milk, do have certain health benefits attached to them. It is simply because milk is rich in various nutrients. However, heavy cream and condensed milk are processed in some way or another.
Generally, the processing results in the loss of some nutrients. So, neither heavy cream nor condensed milk has as many nutrients as milk does. But again, the processing is very different for both. So, does that make one healthier than the other?
Heavy cream is much healthier than condensed milk. One of the reasons here is that while milk is reduced to prepare condensed milk, many nutrients are lost then and there.
Moreover, the high amount of added sugar makes it unhealthy. Heavy cream, however, is the layer of fat that collects on top of milk and is separated. This means that besides the added fat content, the basic nutritional composition remains the same as milk, making it the healthier option.
Condensed Milk Vs. Heavy Cream | Which One Is More Versatile?
Versatility is an important aspect of most types of food products. No one would like to buy something that can be used only once! Instead, most of us try to make the best out of every ingredient stored at home.
This can be done by following simple recipes or even with some experimenting. Here as well, it might not be easy in some ways to determine versatility, considering that they are both a type of dairy product. But one is more versatile than the other!
In the case of condensed milk and heavy cream, heavy cream always stays the more versatile one. Condensed milk can be used only for beverages and desserts due to its texture and added sugar.
However, heavy cream has no added sugar to it. Heavy cream has a neutral flavor, similar to milk flavor. So, it can be used in savory and dessert recipes and beverages, making it a more versatile option.
Condensed Milk Vs. Heavy Cream | Which One Is More Expensive?
Regardless of which part of the world you are in, dairy products are available almost everywhere. Every region has its specific dairy products, along with a lot of derivatives of those that follow.
So, in most cases, as dairy products are regional, they aren’t just as expensive as you would expect some other ingredients to be. However, with its derivatives like condensed milk and heavy cream, the prices can differ per production.
In most cases, condensed milk tends to be more expensive than heavy cream. Although there isn’t as much difference in their prices, there is still a noticeable difference. The reason behind this is their methods of production.
Heavy cream is much easier to prepare as only the top layer of fat from milk needs to be separated. However, condensed milk goes through much more processing, with reduction and added sugar, making it the more expensive option.
Condensed Milk Vs. Heavy Cream | Which One Is Better?
Usually, it is very difficult to say if one is better than the other when it comes to food. This is simply because I believe food can be very subjective. Since we have all grown up in different parts of the world, our flavor perceptions can be poles apart.
However, in the case of condensed milk and heavy cream, one of them is better than the other. This is because these are ingredients rather than actual recipes, so the comparison is much easier.
Heavy cream is the better option out of the two, and also many chefs. The reason comes down to the flavor and versatility of each ingredient.
Condensed milk is extremely sweet and hence, has very limited use. However, heavy cream, although not used in the same way, is versatile in comparison, making it the better option for the lot.
Can One Of These Be Used As A Substitute For The Other?
Substitution of ingredients here and there in recipes is a very common occurrence. Indeed this is one of the best things about food and ingredients. Whenever you are out of something, there are so many options that can be used instead!
Because both heavy cream and condensed milk are dairy products, many may wonder whether these two ingredients are interchangeable in recipes. The short answer here is no; they aren’t interchangeable.
Condensed milk and heavy cream are made differently and have different properties, textures, and flavors. So, using one instead of the other isn’t easy, as they won’t work as well in recipes.
As we have come to the absolute end of this article, it has helped you understand what you wanted and needed about condensed milk and heavy cream. Although both are dairy products, they do have very different properties.
So, that makes them quite different from each other. Although the two ingredients aren’t interchangeable, they play important roles in the respective recipes used, making them both an asset to the cooking world!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Are condensed milk and heavy cream the same?
No, condensed milk and heavy cream are two different dairy products.
Why is condensed milk sweet?
Condensed milk is usually really sweet as it has about 45% added sugar. It is also often sold as ‘sweetened condensed milk.’
Does condensed milk help thicken recipes?
Condensed milk can help thicken certain baked recipes and also add flavor. However, that isn’t the case with savory recipes.
Can heavy cream be whipped?
Yes, heavy cream can be whipped!
Can heavy cream be added to savory recipes?
Heavy cream has a neutral flavor and can easily be added to many savory recipes, especially sauces and curries.
Is either of these ingredients healthier than the other?
Yes, heavy cream is always a healthier option than condensed milk.
Can these ingredients be used as substitutes for each other?
No, that isn’t possible with these ingredients, as they have very different flavors, textures, and properties.
Why does condensed milk have a longer shelf life?
Condensed milk has a longer shelf life than heavy cream, as most water has been removed from it because of the added sugar, which acts as a natural preservative.
Can condensed milk be used as a substitute for eggs in cake recipes?
Yes, in cake recipes, you can use condensed milk as a substitute for eggs.