Cream (including light whipping cream) is a dairy product that is composed of the higher-butterfat layer skimmed from the top of milk before homogenization. Cream can be dried to a powder for shipment to distant markets.
Cream is used as an ingredient in many foods, including ice cream, many sauces, soups, stews, puddings, and some custard bases, and is also used for cakes.
Half-and-Half : A mixture of milk and cream, contains 10 – 18 percent milk fat. Can be used for coffee, cereal, poured over fresh fruit and creamed soups. Half-and-half does not whip.
Light Cream : Pretty much the same as half and half, 15 – 20 percent milk fat.
Whipping Cream: As the name states, is marketed for making whipped cream, contains 30 –36 percent milk fat. Some whipping creams contain additives such as mono- and diglycerides and carrageenan to fluff the whipped cream and help it maintain its peaks. Manufacturers find it cheaper to blend additives than process a cream with higher fat for creating the stiff, fluffy peaks we like in our whipped cream.
Heavy Cream: Contains 36 – 40 percent milk fat. This cream whips denser than whipping cream, it is a must for making pan sauces as it reduces and thickens quicker and smoother than the others.