HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Replacing heavy cream with skim milk??

I have a brownie recipe that calls for heavy cream (forget exactly how much at the moment). Will substituting skim milk for the heavy cream affect the taste/consistency much? My goal is to lower the fat content. Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I'd try using condensed skim milk, Michael. Regular skim may make the brownies somewhat watery, but condensed skim has about the same consistency as cream. I use it all the time for sausage gravy ;-)


    1 Reply
    1. re: Niki in Dayton

      If I were going to try to cut back on the fat in a brownie by replacing cream with something, I would probably do what Niki in Dayton suggests above. Or, I would consider using whole milk for part of the sub and applesauce for another part.

      I think you probably are going to drastically change the consistency of the brownie. If I were you, I would consider going with a brownie recipe that has already been tweaked to be low fat, isntead of trying to tweak it myself.

    2. I've never tried this with desserts, but I typically sub fat-free half and half for heavy cream in some recipes (such as soups and pastas) with great success.

      1. Why are you adverse to using heavy cream? Tastewise, there is no good substitute. I mean you're making brownies which are hardly a low calorie dessert.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Scagnetti

          It's not like fattening is a pass/fail class. Brownies with a lot of fat will not make your butt as big as brownies with a HUGE amount of fat...and so forth.

          I sub skim milk for cream in soups and quiches and biscuits and hot chocolate and pudding....the list is long. Sometimes the results are better than others, but they are usually acceptable.

          BTW, I have not had good luck w/ skim condensed milk.

        2. You can also use half skim milk, half fat free plain yogurt. The yogurt gives you the thicker mouth feel.

          1. How about buttermilk? Low fat and I think a bit creamier.

            For each cup of buttermilk used instead of milk you will want to use 2 teaspoons less baking powder and add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

            1. With all due respect to Niki in Dayton, I think she means evaporated skim milk and not condensed. The condensed is heavily sweetened and won't give you the results you're looking for. I've subbed evaporated skim milk for cream in soups, but never in baked goods. I'm not sure it would work. However, here is a WONDERFUL recipe for low fat brownies. I just made these on sunday and they were awesome. You won't miss the fat, I promise.

              Brownies ("The Best Light Recipe," from the editors of Cook's Illustrated )

              1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
              1/2 teaspoon baking powder
              2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
              1 tablespoon warm water
              1 tablespoon vanilla extract
              1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder or instant coffee, if necessary
              2 tablespoons unsalted butter
              3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped fine
              1/2 cup sugar
              1/8 teaspoon salt
              1 large egg, lightly beaten

              Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square metal baking pan with parchment paper or foil (two sheets overlapping so all four sides of pan are covered) then lightly coat with vegetable oil spray. Whisk flour and baking powder together in a small bowl; set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk the cocoa, water, vanilla and espresso powder together; set aside. Microwave the butter and chocolate together in a medium microwave-safe bowl on 50 percent power until melted, about 1 minute; whisk until the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the sugar and salt until completely incorporated. Whisk in the cocoa mixture, then whisk in the egg. Stir in the flour mixture until just incorporated (do not overmix). Pour batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking (do not overbake). Cool completely on wire rack, about 1 hour, lift brownies out of pan by grasping onto the parchment paper, and cut into 12 brownies. Makes 12 brownies.

              2 Replies
              1. re: AmyH

                Amy--what was the texture like on these (e.g. chewy, cakey, fudgey)? I'm intrigued...

                1. re: AmyH

                  Yes, I do mean evaporated skim milk and not condensed; thanks for catching my error!


                2. Trader Joe's No Pudge Fudge brownie mix uses a container of nonfat vanilla yogurt.
                  I have used plain yogurt in place of cream for scones and in place of buttermilk in pancakes. I think plain or vanilla yogurt would be a much better alternative to skim milk. Of course, if you want fat free brownies, you can always make them from the TJ's mix - it's pretty darn good and easy!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: foodiegrl

                    I went through a long period of experimenting with low-fat brownies. I always thought the ones w/ yogurt were unpleasantly rubbery. However, I gave up on that long before I discovered Fage yogurt, I wonder if that would be better...it is miraculously good in it's 2% form.

                  2. I love to use fat-free half-n-half. I get it at the local Safeway, of all places, and swear by it! Bon apetit!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: saucy_girl

                      How can half and half be fat-free? It must have loads of fillers in it. I'd rather have the real thing if that is the case.

                      1. re: pescatarian

                        "Fat Free" half and half is loaded with corn syrup and carrageenan and some brands add chemicals. It skeeves me.

                    2. Lots of good suggestions. Ones I have used to add (some repeats):

                      a skim milk/cream combination
                      a skim milk/ fat free half-and-half combo
                      fat free half-and-half
                      skim evaporated milk
                      fat free yogurt
                      fat free sour cream
                      reduced fat cream cheese

                      Or a combination of any of the above. :)

                      When I'm baking, since it's typically so fat anyhow, I often just go ahead and use the cream. But if I'm out of cream and in a rush or otherwise can't get to the store, I have used the above substitutions successfully.

                      1. I second/third/whatever the suggestion for condensed skim milk. I use it often in pasta sauces. I love that it's a relatively natural product and it gets the results I want, with a calcium kick.

                        I think in brownies you'd probably be fine with anything though. :)

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: mrbunsrocks

                          Do you remember what brand of condensed (evaporated?) milk you used? Is it fat free, or low fat?

                          I tried making something (I think a gratin) w/ evap fat free milk a while back and it was horrid. I mentioned it to my Mom who said she thought the fat free was "an inferior product", but that the low fat version was OK. I haven't tried it again, but I would like to give it another shot.

                        2. Going from cream to whole milk will drop the fat content without sacrificing too much quality in the finished brownies. The fat content between 2% and whole milk isn't enough to make me want to drop to 2% when baking.

                          Subbing applesauce for oil/butter in baked goods works pretty well, too.

                          1. Hello -- brownies are not healthy food; they are a treat. Therefore, you bake the tastiest ones you can, and eat a small one, once-in-a-while.

                            1. i am a professional baker, and while i would never do this at my place because customers would adversely react, at home i have subbed both yogurt (of differing fat contents) and at other times buttermilk for heavy cream or even just for plain old milk. they both tend to bring what i find to be a pleasant tang to the finished product. i dont know if you want any tang to your brownies but thats neither here nor there. the nice thing with buttermilk, even low fat or 'skim' buttermilk, is that it is thick like heavy cream and so doesnt tend to affect the finished product's texture too drastically. FRIENDSHIP FARMS seems to have the best all around buttermilk btw. for yogurt, well, there're just too many options to choose from arent there? i havent tried but manypeople swear by FAGE, even for baking purposes. try and let us know.
                              if you'd like, i have a wonderfully simple and yet delectable real, old school irish soda bread recipe that uses yogurt that i'd be more than likely to share.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: ben61820

                                Ooh yes, please do post that recipe for the soda bread!

                                1. re: kcchan

                                  6 cups Stone Ground Whole wheat flour (pastry flour works best if you can find it)
                                  1 1/2 tsp Baking soda
                                  1 1/2 tsp Salt
                                  2 cups Buttermilk (i use yogurt prob 75% of the time)

                                  you can half the recipe for a single loaf yield.
                                  Mix the whole wheat flour thoroughly with the salt and baking soda.
                                  Make a well in the center and gradually mix in the liquid. Stir with a spoon. You may need less or more liquid - it depends on the absorbent quality of the flour.

                                  The dough should be soft but manageable. Knead the dough into a ball in the mixing bowl with floured hands. Put on a lightly floured baking sheet and with the palm of your hand flatten out in a circle 1 1/2 inches thick.

                                  With a knife dipped in flour, make a cross through the center of the bread so that it will easily break into quarters when it is baked. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake a further 15 minutes. the times are averages.