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What is the difference between light and heavy whipping cream, and for what purposes would one want to use one over the other? What effects does the difference have on flavor, texture, etc.?

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They differ in fat content. Wikipedia has a table: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cream –  derobert Oct 25 '11 at 21:15
    
Also see: What is Light Cream –  Aaronut Oct 25 '11 at 22:55
    
I made a recipe for alfredo sauce that called for whipping cream. It was much TOO sweet. Making the same recipe with half-and-half cream (less fat content than whipping cream) and more salt makes a wonderful sauce. –  Kyra Oct 27 '11 at 17:45

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Heavy Whipping Cream (at least in the States I believe) has a fat content of 36% or greater. Light Cream generally sits between 30% and 36%. Heavier cream generally will have a "richer" taste. Light Cream will also not whip quite as thick and not hold it's form as well. That said, for most cases, I've successfully managed to use them interchangeably. I guess it might make a difference if you were doing something where holding a rigid structure for extended periods of time was important.

Note: What various grades of cream/dairy are called varies by region... Here in Canada we have Whipping Cream 35% and Heavy Cream ~40%. If I were somewhere where "Light Whipping Cream" sat closer to 30%, I might grab something a little higher.

More info.

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30% is the highest fat content you'll see for light cream. It's normally 18% ("single cream") compared to 36% ("double cream"). They're definitely not interchangeable; light cream generally does not whip. –  Aaronut Oct 25 '11 at 22:54
    
Apparently in some places there is such things as Light Whipping Cream which is 30-35%. It seems to vary by locale. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cream –  talon8 Nov 9 '11 at 5:35

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