Q: What is the difference between heavy cream and whipping cream? A: The distinction is the amount of fat in each. Whipping cream contains 30...

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Q: What is the difference between heavy cream and whipping cream?

A: The distinction is the amount of fat in each. Whipping cream contains 30 percent to 36 percent fat, while heavy cream, sometimes called heavy whipping cream, has 36 percent to 40 percent fat.

Heavy cream is often the richest cream commercially available — good for making desserts.

Whipping cream, which is lighter, is commonly incorporated into sauces and soups and used as a garnish for desserts.

It’s best to use whipping cream when you want a soft dollop — on top of a slice of pumpkin pie, for instance.

When whipped, heavy cream mounds into stiff peaks better than whipping cream does.

For the best results when whipping either type of cream, chill the bowl and beaters for 10 minutes in the freezer. Be sure that the cream is cold, too.

If you’re using a food processor, use the steel blade for just a few seconds. Stop beating when the cream stiffens; overbeating can cause butter to form.

If you’re concerned about fat content for health reasons, use evaporated milk in place of heavy cream, but only in recipes that ask for it to be stirred in, since it’s impossible to whip evaporated milk.

Questions may be sent to mslletters@marthastewart.com or Ask Martha, care of Letters Department, Martha Stewart Living, 11 W. 42nd St., New York, N.Y. 10036. Sorry, no personal replies.