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Jun 11, 2006 08:16 PM

Substitute for heavy cream in recipes?

  • m

I know most chowhounds would approach authentic ingredients in recipes with reverence........ advising never to stray too far. Not to say we aren't the experimental crowd but recipes do deserve their respect.

I do have a few however, that I would love to try but cannot bring myself to approach their high fat content. I would love to tone it down a bit.

Peggy Knickerbocker's Gnafron for example. I know I should approach it with reckless abandon but the richness of the ingredients have prevented me from trying to prepare this andouille sausage flan type dish that's served with garlic cream (containing butter, oil, eggs and lots of heavy cream).

Any suggestions on substitutions for heavy cream??

My only hope is to appeal to the purists in this group to suggest healthier but non comprimising alternatives.

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  1. When you are talking about puting heat to a sauce as that recipe appears to do, I don't think you can substitute the cream. Anything with a lower fat content will break. You might be able to sub butter, but I don't think you will lose much in the way of calories only flavor.

    Others may have a better answer, but none will be non comprimising. Sorry, you can't have that.

    To me there are plenty of great recipes in the culinary world that do not involve cream sauce or other super fattening items, that I would look for those and save the cream for a special occasion.

    1 Reply
    1. re: shameless

      I agree with the above. I generally eat a pretty low-fat diet. But to do so, I rarely try to lighten classically fattening dishes. Rather, I stick to dishes that are naturally healthy.

      I would make this once, for a group, and have a small portion.

    2. Maybe not exactly "purist" but I regularly substitute half-and-half for heavy cream in all recipes, with no bad results ever. Don't want ever-increasing dosage of Lipitor!

      1. It depends what for.
        In a sauce, you might be able to use fat-free evaporated milk - I've used it for alfredo sauce before, using the recipe on the can. Or you can thicken milk with corn starch, but it might have a weird texture.
        In baking and soups, you can easily use lower-fat dairy. Unless, of course, you need whipped cream.

        1. There are lots of wonderfully tasty healthy things to eat. If you are really fearful of the fat, just don't do this recipe. Some things just don't adapt well to a "healthier" rendition.

          Alternatively, do what I do with the truly decadent things that I love. I don't have it very often - maybe a special occasion - but I have the real item and aspire to eat it in moderation.


          1 Reply
          1. re: BeaN

            That's precisely what I was going to say! The rich flan you describe is not a candidate for substitution, and frankly with all the other fatty, high calorie ingredients substituting out the cream would make little sense. Make the dish for your spouse's birthday and have exclusively low fat, low cal dishes for a few days beforehand. Or perhaps save the recipe for a day when you're organizing a an active get together - a family hike, a leaf raking party, a scavenger hunt. Then you'll at least balance a high calorie dish with a social event that burns more calories than the typical house party.

            If I want to make a dish as part of our day to day menu and I can simply omit the cream (for instance soups finished with heavy cream) I'll go ahead and make the dish. Otherwise I search for great dishes that happen to have less fat and calories and cook them as specified.

            Epicurious has a great 'browse' feature that makes it really easy to find healthy recipes. Personally, I don't like the one's from SELF magazine, but the rest of the low fat/low cal recipes are usually very good.

          2. You can substitute sour cream (low fat if you prefer, ugh) or Greek style cheese yogurt (found at Trader Joe's). Frankly, there is just no substitute for heavy cream and butter in some things. Like schmaltz, there is no substitute.

            1 Reply