Inevitably, when you need light cream, you have heavy cream, and vice versa. Although there's no way to transform light cream into heavy cream, you can dilute heavy cream to make it lighter. This works especially well when you need the cream for coffee or pouring over fruit or a dessert, such as apple crisp.
You can lighten heavy cream to make light cream, although you may not want to, depending on the circumstances. Light cream can stand in for heavy cream in soups, coffee and some cooked sauces. It should not be used to replace heavy cream in desserts that call for whipped cream.
To dilute heavy cream to make light cream, combine 1 part milk with 2 parts cream. Don't use water, which will dilute the flavor as well as the texture. Store the diluted cream in the refrigerator and use it within one week, or within two days past the expiration date of the cream.
The main differences between heavy cream and light cream lie in their fat content. Heavy cream contains at least 35 percent fat, while light cream contains only 20 percent fat. These differences do more than merely alter your waistline. Heavy cream is more stable than light cream. It can be whipped for a dessert topping or cooked with eggs to make a creamy homemade ice cream base. Heavy whipping cream is also less likely to curdle when boiled than light cream. Light cream is best reserved to flavor coffee or pour over sliced fruit.
One cup of heavy whipping cream has 821 calories, while 1 cup of light cream has 468 calories. If you're trying to reduce your calorie intake, consider evaporated milk, which has the creaminess of light cream without the fat. One cup of evaporated milk has 340 calories. Evaporated milk is simply milk that's been heated to remove 60 percent of the moisture and then canned. This product is shelf-stable and can be safely stored in your pantry until the best-by date on the can -- typically up to one year.
Julie Christensen is a food writer, caterer, and mom-chef. She's the creator of MarmaladeMom.org, dedicated to family fun and delicious food, and released a book titled "More Than Pot Roast: Fast, Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes."