What's the real difference between Heavy cream, whipping cream and fresh cream?


I was recently buying some stuff from my bakery supplier when I overheard two girls discussing which cream can they buy for the ganache. I could sense that they did not understand the different jargon generally thrown around. They were also confused about whether they could heat up the heavy cream being sold there.
And these are valid doubts. I mean if you would have asked me the same thing a couple of years ago I would have had no idea. Plus there are so many terms around creams that it is very easy to get lost in all of that.
Indian supermarkets, on the other hand, do not stock all kinds of cream, making the right cream even difficult to find. The one cream which we find readily is Amul fresh cream which doesn't serve most of the purposes.
So here I am cutting all the clutter around various kinds of creams we can use in cooking, how, and why.

Heavy cream Vs whipping cream Vs fresh cream? Are they same?

Most commonly, there are three different types of creams used in cooking and baking. The three kinds of creams differ in their milk fat percentages and therefore their texture & consistencies. The fat percentage is also what makes them differ in behavior on being whipped.
  • Heavy Cream - Heavy cream aka Heavy Whipping Cream is a high-fat content cream with >36% fat content in it. It's a smooth dense cream that can be whipped and used for decoration on cakes and beverages(e.g. your coffee in Starbucks). Heavy cream whips very nicely and holds its shape consistently for a long period of time. So this is the one you should use when making ice creams and cakes and even ganache. It is also used in gravies like Tikka masalas to give them thick and creamy feel.
  • Whipping Cream - It is almost the same as Heavy Cream however has a lower fat percentage (between 30-35%). The usage and application are exactly the same as the heavy cream and can be used in place of it as well. It will also hold its shape but is more likely to lose its loft and become liquid earlier than the heavy cream. It can be used on tarts, waffles, and more where you are looking for a lighter, softer, and airy cream and not particular about cream holding its shape too long.
  • Fresh Cream - This is the most commonly found cream in our supermarkets. Fresh cream contains 25% fat content and can be used for thickening coffee and savory dishes like soups and gravies. However, because the fresh cream has a lower than 30% fat content, it cannot be whipped and shaped for decorative purposes. If you want to whip your cream for cakes and coffees, do not go for this.
So the tip is to check the fat percentage when you are buying the cream. The more the fat percentage, more versatile it is for most of the tasks.
Buy Heavy Cream or Whipping Cream when you're gonna whip the cream.

In the video, Mousse is being decorated with a dollop of whipped cream and grated chocolate.

Which cream to use for making Ganache?

Chocolate Ganache (or just ganache) is a mixture of chocolate and cream used as topping & filling for various desserts like Donuts, Croissants, and Cakes.
For making ganache, heavy cream(>35% fat) is heated to just near boiling temperature and poured into chopped pieces of chocolate.
The idea is that the heat from the cream is enough to melt the chocolate and form a silky chocolatey mixture. Ideally, both chocolate and heavy cream are taken in a 1:1 ratio for making the ganache.
However, you can also use whipping cream or fresh cream to make your ganache, but the ratio will have to be adjusted accordingly. Usually with fresh creams, a ratio of 2:1 (2 parts chocolate and 1 part fresh cream) works best for a chocolate ganache.

Which cream is used to make frosting for cake?

As described above, both heavy cream and whipping cream can be used to make frosting for decorating and filling the cakes. In India, we usually use heavy cream having 35% and above fat content.

What is a non-dairy whip topping?

Apart from milk cream, a non-dairy Whipping Cream(also called Whip Topping) is also available in the market which gives the same look and feels like a whipping cream (both before and after whipping). Though this is not a milk-based product, this is used quite often in the replacement of whipping cream. It is made up of vegetable oil, is cheaper than the milk-based creams, and is used more often in commercial bakeries.

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7 comments


  • Ruchita Gupta

    I want to make cheesecake..can I use non dairy whipping cream instead of heavy cream along with cream cheese?


  • Dimple

    In India, which brand of cream has more than 35% fat? I haven’t found any except Amul whipping cream.


  • Subapriya Rajan

    Can you explain about the chocolates used for making cake decoration?I used amul dark chocolate and Morde dark chocolate compound for make decoration but both holds its shape when in freezer but becomes soft when I take it out frm freezer.


  • Sangi Thungon

    Hi , for thick chocolate ganache I use amul cream available in the market ?


  • Jay

    I want to make a no-bake chocolate tart and the recipe requires me to use heavy cream. Can I replace it with Amul’s fresh cream? Will it still cool down well and hold its shape?


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