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Better to use cream cheese or half & half for a pink pasta sauce?

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ViolentScarlet Sep 13, 2010 12:15 PM

I want to do a pink tomato sauce for pasta tonight, but I don't have mascarpone or heavy cream and I likely won't make it to the store today...I do have plain cream cheese and half & half in the fridge. Which of these do people think would be better to add to a marinara-type sauce in order to get pink sauce? Thanks!!

  1. f
    foreverhungry Sep 13, 2010 12:24 PM

    I would go with the half and half. With pasta recipes that call for heavy cream, I often use half and half because I find the heavy cream thickens the sauce a little too quickly. That is, it's very easy to go from the right consistency to too thick a consistency, because there's less wiggle room in accounting for evaporation of water from heavy cream. I think it'll be even truer with cream cheese. I've used cream cheese in the past, for example to make a creamy pesto, but it just thickens really fast. Half and half gives you a little more time before it turns into a thick glop. The other factor is the flavor factor - cream cheese has more tang than cream or half and half. Of course, in your case, it will also depend on the consistency of the marinara sauce. If you have a thick marinara, cream cheese might turn it into a thick glop. If your marinara is very thin, adding half and half might need some reducing. I hope this helps!

    1. LindaWhit Sep 13, 2010 12:42 PM

      Do you have any evaporated milk? That's a reasonable substitute as well for heavy cream.

      If not - a combination of both - foreverhungry is right, the cream cheese by itself will be WAY too gloopy. But put in the half and half AND the cream cheese and you should get closer to heavy cream viscosity.

      1. greygarious Sep 13, 2010 12:49 PM

        Use some of each! Start with a nob of cream cheese, mix it in until it melts, then add half&half while checking taste and consistency.

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