Half and half refers to a dairy product that is composed of 50% milk and 50% light cream. Both components are mixed in equal parts hence the term “half and half”. Many people use half and half because of its lower fat content compared to standard light cream. In the UK and other parts of the world, half and half is also referred to as half cream.
As with standard cream, half and half or half cream can also be used for various cooking needs. If no whipping is necessary, half and half is an excellent addition to many dishes to provide a milky and creamy flavor. Instead of having the full taste of light cream, half and half provides similar flavoring but of a more liquid texture because of the milk component. Half and half is basically more liquid in terms of texture and so it cannot be whipped even when using a machine. For whipping needs, half and half is not an option. It can only provide the taste of light cream but not the actual texture. For people who wish to have more liquid sauces, half and half is also a good choice. Many people also prefer it as dip for various food items.
Many desserts can also be made using half and half instead of standard light cream. Creating panna cotta for example can best be achieved using half cream and half milk because of its smoother consistency. There are also cases wherein the cream will be too heavy for a particular recipe and the addition of milk to the cream can provide the desired result and consistency. For the health conscious, half and half has less fat and calories compared to full cream recipes. For this group of people, lower calories are desired without sacrificing on the taste of food. Non-fat half and half is also available in some markets. But this variant actually does not contain actual cream. Instead, the milk is treated with corn syrup to imitate the taste of cream.