Why It Works
- Cooking the cream slow and low allows gentle browning to occur.
- Adding baking soda to cream encourages browning, even at low temperatures.
- A pressure cooker can utilize both high heat and baking soda for extra-dark browning and savory flavors.
Just like browning butter, browning cream transforms the dairy's fresh, grassy flavors into nutty butterscotch and toffee. Cooking cream low and slow gives it all the subtle flavors of browned butter, making it perfect for adding to delicate purées, soups, and ice cream. Add a pinch of baking soda to the cream before cooking sous vide to accelerate the browning, increasing its savory aromas; it'll be ideal for tempering sweetness in desserts or for reducing to create a stable beurre blanc. Or, cook the cream and baking soda in a pressure cooker, using both high heat and alkalinity to kick browning into overdrive—the result is a fully transformed cream that's just right for finishing meaty pan sauces or standing up to caramel or chocolate. Pick whatever method works best for your recipe's needs.
- 1 pint heavy cream (16 fluid ounces; 473ml)
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (optional)
If Cooking Sous Vide: Preheat a sous vide circulator to 180°F (82°C). In a medium bowl, whisk together cream and baking soda (if using). Place zipper-lock bags or vacuum bags in a tall pitcher or jar to stand them upright, then pour cream into bags. Remove air from zipper-lock bags using the water displacement method, or use a vacuum sealer to seal vacuum bags. Cook for 24 hours. Remove bags of cream and chill in the refrigerator before using.
If Cooking in a Pressure Cooker: In a medium bowl, whisk together cream and baking soda (if using). Divide cream between two 12-ounce Mason jars and screw on tops until just finger-tight. (If the tops are screwed on too tightly, they may break during cooking.) Insert steamer rack into pressure cooker and add 1 inch water. Place jars in pressure cooker, close, and bring to full pressure. Cook at full pressure for 2 hours. Remove cooker from heat and allow to depressurize naturally. Cool cream before using.