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Evaporated milk vs. heavy cream

In my search for the perfect pumpkin pie recipe, I've noticed that some recipes call for evaporated milk and some call for a combination of heavy cream and milk. Does one make a better pie than the other? Can one substitute evaporated milk for heavy cream? I usually just make the recipe on the back of the Libby's pumpkin can, but if anyone has one they think is better, do share!


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 23rd, 2005 05:45 pm (UTC)
I don't know but the recipe I use calls for sweetened condensed milk.
Nov. 23rd, 2005 05:49 pm (UTC)
well, I'm sorry I don't have an answer for you about the milk, but about the pumpkin...I say bag the pumpkin pie altogether. Make sweet potato pie instead. I think it's soooo much better, and this recipe from Cook's Illustrated is, in my humble opinion, the BEST. I'm including instructions for the crust, however, I use a frozen deep dish crust because I have way too many other things to do. At first it looks long and complicated, but 1-5 are about the crust. If you use frozen, only look at 6-8, and it's very easy! I have to post this as two comments...hold on...

The Best Sweet Potato Pie

For prebaking the pie shell, we prefer metal or ceramic pie weights because of their heft and ability to conduct heat. Remove the foil lining and weights only after the dough has lost its wet look and has turned straw-colored from its original yellow hue. This will prevent the sides of the pie shell from slipping down and losing their shape. The sweet potatoes cook quickly in the microwave but can also be pricked with a fork and baked uncovered in a 400-degree oven until tender, 40 to 50 minutes. Some tasters preferred a stronger bourbon flavor in the filling, so we give a range below. If you like molasses, use the optional tablespoon; a few tasters felt it deepened the sweet potato flavor. Serve the pie with whipped cream.

Nov. 23rd, 2005 05:49 pm (UTC)
Makes one 9-inch pie, serving 8 to 10
Pie Dough

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter , chilled, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening , chilled
4 - 5 tablespoons ice water

Sweet Potato Filling

2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 5 small to medium)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter , softened
3 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 - 3 tablespoons bourbon
1 tablespoon molasses (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1. In food processor bowl fitted with steel blade, pulse flour, salt, and sugar to combine. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture; cut butter into flour with five 1-second pulses. Add shortening and continue cutting in until flour is pale yellow and resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter bits no larger than small peas, about four more 1-second pulses. Turn mixture into medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons ice water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to evenly distribute water into flour mixture until small portion of dough holds together when squeezed in palm of hand; add up to 1 tablespoon more ice water if necessary. Turn dough onto clean, dry work surface; gather and gently press together into cohesive ball, then flatten into rough 4-inch disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 days, before rolling.

3. Remove dough from refrigerator (if refrigerated longer than 30 minutes, let stand at room temperature until malleable). Roll dough on lightly floured work surface or between two large sheets of plastic wrap to 12-inch disk about 1/8 inch thick. Fold dough in quarters, then place dough point in center of 9-inch pie plate; unfold dough.

4. Working around circumference of pan, ease dough carefully into pan corners by gently lifting dough edges with one hand while pressing around pan bottom with other hand. Trim edge to 1/2 inch beyond pan lip. Tuck rim of dough underneath itself so that folded edges are about 1/4 inch beyond pan lip; flute dough. Refrigerate pie shell for 40 minutes, then freeze for 20 minutes. (This two-step process helps to reduce shrinkage of the crust during baking.)

5. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Press doubled 18-inch square of heavy-duty foil inside shell and fold back edges of foil to shield fluted edge; evenly distribute about 2 cups metal or ceramic pie weights over foil. Bake, leaving foil and weights in place until dough dries and lightens in color, 17 to 20 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights by gathering sides of foil and pulling up and out. Bake until light golden brown, about 9 minutes longer. Remove from oven; reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

6. Prick sweet potatoes several times with fork and place on double layer of paper towels in microwave (see illustrations below). Cook at full power for 5 minutes; turn each potato over and continue to cook at full power until tender, but not mushy, about 5 minutes longer. Cool 10 minutes. Halve each potato crosswise; insert small spoon between skin and flesh, and scoop flesh into medium bowl; discard skin. (If potatoes are too hot to handle comfortably, fold double layer of paper towels into quarters and use to hold potato half). Repeat with remaining sweet potatoes; you should have about 2 cups. While potatoes are still hot, add butter and mash with fork or wooden spoon; small lumps of potato should remain.

7. Whisk together eggs, yolks, sugar, nutmeg, and salt in medium bowl; stir in bourbon, molasses (if using), and vanilla, then whisk in milk. Gradually add egg mixture to sweet potatoes, whisking gently to combine.

8. Heat partially baked pie shell in oven until warm, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle bottom of pie shell evenly with brown sugar. Pour sweet potato mixture into pie shell over brown sugar layer. Bake until filling is set around edges but center jiggles slightly when shaken, about 45 minutes. Transfer pie to wire rack; cool to room temperature, about 2 hours, and serve.

Nov. 23rd, 2005 06:48 pm (UTC)
Re: continued
wow, I guess I should have asked before I posted that long thing!
Nov. 23rd, 2005 07:20 pm (UTC)
Re: continued
No prob, thanks for sharing.
Nov. 23rd, 2005 06:04 pm (UTC)
I use whipping cream instead of evaporated milk, and I don't like using condensed milk period because I can't control the sweetness.
Nov. 23rd, 2005 06:27 pm (UTC)
I love the recipe on the back of the Libby's can. I just add an extra dash of ground cloves and substitute a tablespoon of scotch for a tablespoon of the evaporated milk.
Nov. 23rd, 2005 06:35 pm (UTC)
Ooh, good suggestion, thanks.
Nov. 23rd, 2005 06:27 pm (UTC)
Ok a bit of food history here.

When that recipe came out (the libbys and versions of it) cream was not ultra pasturised as it is now so it was more of a seasonal thing, as well as pricy. (allso folks often shopped daily in big citys but in the burbs or rural areas it was more like once a week or less so things that were shelf stable were bought)

So the recipe evolved and the libby people used a version that had things the average person would have on hand in mid november.

So bottem line use what you like. if you use cream you may have to up the sugar a bit but the taste of the pumkin and the spices will for the most part overwhelm any slight difference in cream vs canned milk.

ash (who knows this is prob more than you wanted to know)
Nov. 23rd, 2005 06:35 pm (UTC)
Thanks, that was very interesting!
Nov. 23rd, 2005 06:36 pm (UTC)
The Libby's recipe is solid, but I double the spices.
Nov. 23rd, 2005 07:15 pm (UTC)
I see people discussing swettened condesed milk and Evaporated milk as if they are interchangeable. They are not. Read your recipe carefully or you might get a nasty suprise.

Check it out here:,,284587_291544,00.html
Nov. 23rd, 2005 07:19 pm (UTC)
Re: Careful!
Thanks, but I know the Libby's recipe calls for evaporated milk. Condensed milk is different, sweeter, and in smaller cans. :)
Nov. 23rd, 2005 08:01 pm (UTC)
I use evaporated milk (partly because cream would be too rich and not sit well with me) but I scald it first; makes it a little creamier in the end.
Nov. 24th, 2005 12:02 am (UTC)
I often sub evaporated skimmed milk for cream in recpes, and it has tended to work out fine.
Nov. 19th, 2014 02:17 am (UTC)
Thanks for the tips.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )


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