How to Make Your Own Half-and-Half Substitute
At some point in your kitchen adventures, you may come upon a recipe that calls for a half-and-half. Examples of recipes that require such an ingredient include ice creams, cakes, soups, sauces, and quiches, among others. For absolute novice kitchen workers, this can mean anything. But for the advanced home cook, it is nothing more than a combination of milk and cream. Since you cannot whip milk like a cream, then you’ve got to strike a balance between these two fundamental ingredients. The thing about half-and-half is that it provides your recipe a different kind of richness. As such, it is ideal if you have a readily available half-and-half in your refrigerator. The good news is that you can make your half-and-half substitute right at home.
A Look at Commercially-Available Half-and-Half
Since we are going to make a substitute for what you can buy from your favorite grocery store, it would be wise to gain an understanding of the composition of commercially-available half-and-half.
This ingredient, as we already mentioned in the beginning, is a combination of two very common ingredients in the kitchen. You have milk and cream. In commercial half-and-half products, this combination always contains 10.5 to 18 percent milk fat. This will give you an idea of the different possible combinations that you can use in making a substitute.
For example, combining light cream with nonfat milk can produce a half-and-half that only contains about 10 percent milk fat. It’s half-a-percent short of the minimum milk fat content of a true half-and-half. As such, if you do decide to continue using this combination, you might end up with a different flavor on your dish. The richness to the cream may not be as intense as a real half-and-half.
Whole Milk and Light Cream
There are different ways you can create a half-and-half substitute. As mentioned, you only need two basic ingredients: milk and cream. Unfortunately, these two ingredients can also come in different types. So, the first one we’ll share with you involves equal parts of whole milk and light cream.
The usual combination involves half a cup of whole milk and half a cup of light cream. This is perfect as a topping for your coffee. It is great for cooking, too. One thing you need to understand about this particular combination is that it is the closest thing you can get to a commercially-available half-and-half.
Skim or Low-Fat Milk and Heavy Cream
One of the issues about the first half-and-half alternative is that light cream may not be easy to source for some home cooks. Or, it may not be available right away. As such, one of the best ways you can achieve a similar-tasting result is by replacing the light cream with heavy cream and the whole milk with low-fat or skim milk.
The proportion of the ingredients will be a bit different, though. For this, you will need about two-thirds cup of skim milk or low-fat milk. Now, add a third of a cup of heavy cream to get the right blend. This will give you a half-and-half that is almost similar to what you can buy from the store.
Whole Milk and Heavy Cream
If you want a richer and creamier taste in both your coffee and dishes, you may have to replace the light cream with heavy cream. There are two ways you can go about this mixture. The first one is to combine half a cup each of heavy cream and whole milk. This will result in a very “heavy” half-and-half, but not as much as a heavy cream. It’s perfect for making delicious sauces.
For those who don’t like a very thick half-and-half or prefer a creamier taste, then tweaking the proportion of cream to milk can help. The second approach is to combine a quarter of a cup of heavy cream with three-quarter cup of whole milk. Since there is more milk in relation to the cream, you can expect to gain more of the sweet taste of milk.
Whole Milk and Unsalted Butter
This is a very odd half-and-half substitute, perhaps because you will be using butter or margarine instead of cream. There are a few challenges here. You have to melt the butter (or margarine) for you to incorporate the milk. Unfortunately, this is not as easy to accomplish. If your milk happens to come straight from the fridge, its cold temperature can turn the melted butter into a gooey chunk. This can make mixing the two ingredients quite a feat. You can try to whisk the butter into the milk, of course but this is no guarantee that they will blend that well. At least try.
The usual method is to put a tablespoon or 4 teaspoons of melted unsalted butter into a measuring cup. To this, add enough whole milk so that you will end up with a cup of half and half substitute.
The taste might be awkward to use on coffee. For some recipes like cakes, this substitution might work. But this might not be a good idea if you’re looking to use this to make ice cream.
Some Tips to Maximize Your Half-and-Half Substitute
Many of the dishes that you will be cooking will not call for a half-and-half. That is why many home cooks and chefs alike consider this as a convenience item. Since there are only two basic ingredients in the making of a half-and-half substitute, here are a couple of tips you can follow to economize.
- Choose which ingredient you will be having for “all” of your half-and-half needs. Since the most common ingredients here are heavy cream and whole milk, it’s a good idea to stock up on these ingredients.
- Consider storing your heavy cream in ice tray cubes. Do the same with the whole milk. When it’s time to cook a delicious meal that calls for a half-and-half, you can drop equal numbers of heavy cream and whole milk ice cubes into the dish.
Making half-and-half substitute is easy. One only needs two basic ingredients – milk and cream – and that’s it.