Art of evaporating cream for a sauce

Burning Questions

September 28, 2005|By ERICA MARCUS

I have a recipe for garlic-horseradish cream sauce that calls for reducing 2 cups of heavy cream to 3/4 cup. How do I do this? Also, how do I avoid getting a skin on top? Reducing is the term chefs use for cooking a liquid over a high enough heat to evaporate some amount of water, thereby reducing the volume of the liquid. Two things happen when water is evaporated from a liquid: The flavor becomes more concentrated and the texture gets thicker.

To the question at hand, how to reduce 2 cups of cream to 3/4 cup: First, cream and milk have a tendency to burn when heated, so you should use a heavy, even-heating saucepan. Cook over a fairly low heat -- you want a very slow simmer -- and stir the cream frequently, using a rubber spatula to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom or "corners" of the pan.

To gauge how much you have reduced, you can periodically pour the reducing cream into a glass measuring cup.

As for the skin on top, there's no way to avoid it. Just drag it off periodically.

Erica Marcus writes for Newsday. E-mail your queries to burningquestions@newsday.com, or send them to Erica Marcus, Food /Part 2, Newsday, 235 Pinelawn Road, Melville, NY 11747-4250.

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