Condensed milk or cream?

Chicago TribuneJanuary 29, 2013 

Wondering what the advantages or disadvantages are of condensed milk over cream?

The biggest difference between cream and condensed milk can be found in the latter’s alternative name: “Sweetened condensed milk.”

It is a mixture of whole milk and sugar “heated until about 60 percent of the water evaporates,” according to “The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion,” and “the resulting condensed mixture is extremely sticky and sweet.”

Evaporated milk is unsweetened condensed milk. You’ll find both side by side in the supermarket bakery aisle; check labels closely to make sure you’re buying the right one.

Both condensed milk and evaporated milk have a thick, creamy texture. I’ve substituted both for cream (and vice versa) in pie recipes. Just remember, condensed milk is already sweetened, so cut back on any added sugar.

These condensed milks also have a somewhat cooked flavor as opposed to the taste of fresh cream or milk.

Condensed and evaporated milks have the advantage over fresh cream in that they can be safely stored for months without needing refrigeration.

This was particularly useful in the days before electricity or modern refrigerators, when dairy products would spoil rather rapidly, especially in hot climes or seasons.

You can, of course, use condensed milk year-round in baked goods, desserts, coffee and drinks.

Ponche Crema

Blend 12 eggs, 3 cans (12 ounces each) evaporated milk, 2 cans (14 ounces each) condensed milk, 1 cup rum, 1 teaspoon vanilla. Pour over cracked ice. Add a dash of Angostura bitters. Grate fresh nutmeg over the top.

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