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Milk Tips for Goof-Proof Baking

By , SparkPeople Blogger

You can tell it is time for holiday baking when you see the shelves at the local grocery store. With several varieties of canned milk products and creams, it can become confusing. Here are some brief descriptions and alternatives to help make your holiday baking goof-proof.

Evaporated milk is homogenized, vitamin D fortified milk that has had 60% of the water removed. It has not been sweetened and can be found with varying amounts of butterfat ranging from eight percent in whole evaporated milk to .5 percent in the skim variety. Evaporated milk is typically used in cream soups, custards, and dishes where a creamy texture is desired. You can reconstitute evaporated milk by combining with equal amounts of water. If you need a dairy free alternative in a recipe, you can use one cup of water mixed with six tablespoons of soy milk powder to get one cup of evaporated milk alternative.

Condensed milk is pasteurized, homogenized milk that has had sixty percent of the water removed just like with evaporated milk. Sugar is added as a shelf-stabilizer to fight bacteria, which makes it possible for this canned milk to stay unopened on a shelf for up to two years. Many times the label and recipes will state "sweetened" condensed milk to help reduce the risk of confusion with evaporated milk. Condensed milk adds thickness and texture as well as a sweet milk flavor. If you need a dairy free alternative to sweetened condensed milk for a recipe, there are a variety of recipes you can use. There are also sugar-free sweetened condensed milk recipes too.

Cream is created by skimming the fat portion of milk. Grades of cream are based on the percentages of fat. Heavy cream contains around thirty-five percent milk fat, resists curdling and can be whipped. Light cream is around twenty-five percent milk fat, is frequently used as table cream and cannot be whipped. Unfortunately there isn't a good non-dairy cream substitute that can be whipped (though you can buy non-dairy whipped cream), but you can use the evaporated milk substitute if you are not intending to whip in place of heavy cream.

Half-and-half is simply a mixture of one part milk to one part cream. It typically contains around fifteen percent milk fat. Unlike cream, half-and-half cannot be whipped. Some people use this refrigerated milk as creamer for coffee but it is often used for homemade ice cream and in baking as well. If you need a dairy free alternative, try one cup less two tablespoons (seven eighths of a cup) of unsweetened soymilk plus one and one-half tablespoons melted non-dairy margarine.

Do you get confused between the different types of canned milk? What are some of your favorite recipes using canned milk or cream?

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