Toasted Cream Recipe (2024)

  • Gluten-free
  • Pressure Cooker
  • Sous Vide
  • Heavy Cream

Transform dairy's fresh, grassy flavors into nutty butterscotch and toffee.

By

Sohla El-Waylly

Toasted Cream Recipe (1)

Sohla El-Waylly

Sohla El-Waylly is a culinary creator, video host, and CIA graduate whose work can be found on Serious Eats, Bon Appetit, The New York Times, Food52, YouTube, and more.

Learn about Serious Eats'Editorial Process

Updated May 16, 2023

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Toasted Cream Recipe (2)

Why It Works

  • Cooking the cream slow and low allows gentle browning to occur.
  • Adding baking soda to cream encourages browning, even at low temperatures.
  • A pressure cooker can utilize both high heat and baking soda for extra-dark browning and savory flavors.

Browned butter is pretty impressive stuff. A little heat transforms butter’s coy and fresh flavor into something that’s dominating and nutty, perfect for adding depth tobutternut squash risottoand complementing the natural sweetness inroasted Brussels sprouts. And luckily, this delicious metamorphosis isn’t limited to butter. Any dairy can be browned just like butter to add notes of toffee and vanilla to milk, cream, and yogurt.

There are already recipes that capitalize on the deep flavors of cooked dairy, such as lamb marinated with yogurt or goat cooked in its own milk, where the long cooking time reduces the dairy into golden, toasted curds. Separately browning dairy lets you add those deep, nutty flavors, once reserved for long-cooked dishes, to fresh, new applications.

Due to its unlimited versatility, cream is a great place to start playing with browned dairy. It can be whipped into a topping for juicy summer fruits or splashed into a White Russian fora co*cktail we can all abide by, boldly going where no browned butter has gone before.

Toasted Cream Recipe (3)

Some of the flavors in browned butter are due to caramelization, but the majority develop through theMaillard reaction, in which proteins and sugars are broken down and built back up into hundreds of new, complex flavors and aromas. It happens quickly above 300°F (149°C), making the process of browning butter simple. Once the butter has heated enough to drive off the small amount of moisture it contains (whole butter is composed of 18 to 20% water), the temperature quickly rises, allowing the butter solids to brown and infuse the butterfat with nutty flavors and aromas.

With cream, things get more complicated. Even though cream contains more protein than butter—and therefore more browning potential—it also contains more moisture, which prevents that protein from getting it on with some milk sugars so they can create beautiful brown flavors together.

Thankfully, there’s more than one way to trigger the Maillard reaction. Although browning is fastest at 300°F, it starts at temperatures as low as 100°F (38°C), but the reaction can take hours or even days. This is why canned evaporated milk has a tan color and toasty aroma, even though it's heated to only 140°F (60°C) during processing. Cooking cream at 180°F (82°C) for 24 hours doesn’t result in much visible browning, but the development in flavor is striking. The cream takes on all the nutty aromas of browned butter, and becomes perfect for churning into the most intensebutter pecan ice creamor stirring into delicatecauliflower purée.

Toasted Cream Recipe (4)

Another option is to borrow the baking soda trickKenjiuses to quicklycaramelize onionsand achieveextra-brown skin on roast chicken. In both these instances, the baking soda creates an alkaline environment, which speeds up the Maillard reaction—and it works for cream and other dairy, too. Baking soda is traditionally added tocajetaanddulce de lecheto intensify the browning that’s already occurring through the reduction of dairy and sugar. Adding 0.25% baking soda to cream before cooking sous vide increases its browning and enhances its savory flavors, which is ideal for keeping the sweetness of atres lechescakeor flan in check.

Toasted Cream Recipe (5)

To kick browning into overdrive,Alex and Aki at Ideas in Foodcook cream with baking soda in a pressure cooker, using both alkalinity and high heat to achieve maximum browning. Just like the Maillard reaction, caramelization is a function of both time and temperature. When the Maillard reaction is sped up by the baking soda and heat, it quickly outpaces caramelization, resulting in more savory aromas—less butterscotch and oak, more pretzel and coffee. A cream this dark has moved far from its sweet brown-butter roots, which makes it ideal for finishing meatypan saucesand playing with chocolate.

Toasted Cream Recipe (6)

Whether you decide to go low and slow, use a little science to speed things up, or fully transform your cream in a pressure cooker, one method isn’t better than the other. Rather, each produces a different result, suitable for different uses. With these three methods for browning cream added to your repertoire, you can easily upgrade simple recipes with added depth and nuttiness.

January 2018

Recipe Details

Toasted Cream

Active10 mins

Total2 hrs 10 mins

Serves16 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pint heavy cream(16 fluid ounces; 473ml)

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda(optional)

Directions

  1. If Cooking Sous Vide: Preheat a sous vide circulator to 180°F (82°C). In a medium bowl, whisk together cream and baking soda (if using). Place zipper-lock bags or vacuum bags in a tall pitcher or jar to stand them upright, then pour cream into bags. Remove air from zipper-lock bags using the water displacement method, or use a vacuum sealer to seal vacuum bags. Cook for 24 hours. Remove bags of cream and chill in the refrigerator before using.

  2. If Cooking in a Pressure Cooker: In a medium bowl, whisk together cream and baking soda (if using). Divide cream between two 12-ounce Mason jars and screw on tops until just finger-tight. (If the tops are screwed on too tightly, they may break during cooking.) Insert steamer rack into pressure cooker and add 1 inch water. Place jars in pressure cooker, close, and bring to full pressure. Cook at full pressure for 2 hours. Remove cooker from heat and allow to depressurize naturally. Cool cream before using.

Special Equipment

Sous vide circulator or pressure cooker (get our full review), vacuum sealer (for sous vide method; optional)

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
101Calories
11g Fat
1g Carbs
1g Protein

×

Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories101
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g14%
Saturated Fat 7g34%
Cholesterol 34mg11%
Sodium 8mg0%
Total Carbohydrate 1g0%
Dietary Fiber 0g0%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 0mg1%
Calcium 20mg2%
Iron 0mg0%
Potassium 28mg1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Toasted Cream Recipe (2024)
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