Invented in the late 1940s, instant pudding was considered a miracle food, producing a luxurious, creamy dessert without the headache of pots, pans and thickeners. The seemingly magical ingredients that allow instant pudding to thicken with milk and without heat -- tetrasodium pyrophosphate and disodium phosphate – work together by gathering and binding the casein proteins in the milk. As a dairy product, heavy cream contains milk proteins that will thicken your instant pudding, but the higher amount of fat will also change your pudding's texture.
Figuring Out the Fat
Cream is the enriched layer of milk fat that rises to the top of whole milk when it is left alone. By definition, heavy cream must contain at least 36 percent milk fat. This amounts to 96 grams of fat per cup, as compared to whole milk, which contains 8 grams of milk fat per cup. In her book "Bakeless Sweets," Faith Durand explains that it is the fat that makes pudding so decadent, but you can have too much. She prescribes a balanced combination of whole milk and heavy cream when making pudding from scratch, because too much fat causes the globules to crowd and bead up on your tongue, changing the texture from creamy to grainy.
Blending With Other Ingredients
To make instant pudding using heavy cream, thin the cream first by adding another liquid. Try adding 1/4 cup of water to each cup of cream used. If the recipe on the box specifies cold milk, use cold water and blend it into the cream before pouring the mixture into the instant pudding mix. Other non-dairy ingredients, such as soy or almond milk, can be used instead of water in combination with the heavy cream. Using soy milk or almond milk alone will not thicken instant pudding, but when you combine them in equal amounts with dairy cream, the milk proteins will react with the chemical thickeners to bind your pudding.
Playing With Your Pudding
Besides traditional pudding, there are other desserts you can make using a package of instant pudding and heavy cream. Because of its high fat content, heavy cream can be whipped with the instant pudding to make a cake filling or frosting similar to bavarian cream or pastry cream. Combine one small package of instant pudding mix with 2 cups of heavy whipping cream and beat in a mixer on high for two to three minutes until stiff peaks form. You can use any flavor of instant pudding to create this cake filling or frosting. Refrigeration will further thicken the concoction.
Storing Your Cream
Heavy cream refrigerated between 38 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit will last one to two weeks before being opened. Once opened, heavy cream should be used within 10 days. Any unused cream poured out of the container should be stored separately and not poured back into the original container. While heavy cream can’t be frozen in its liquid state, it does freeze well once whipped. Store whipped cream alone by wrapping dollops in waxed paper, or freeze pudding and whipped cream concoctions in airtight containers.
For more than 10 years, Carol Butler has run a small, off-grid furniture business with her husband and is a regular contributor to the Edible community of magazines. As staff writer for RichLife Advisors, she covers financial planning and other industry-related topics. She holds a B.F.A. in theater arts.