Evaporated Vs. Sweetened Condensed Milk. What’s the Difference?
Come the holidays, we often come upon recipes that ask for both. The question of whether or not we can swap them out, is one I get asked a lot so I did a little research and the verdict is in. Today, we often find them used in cookies, bars, pies, and even in drinks, like Vietnamese coffee. Regardless of which the recipe is asking for, knowing the difference can greatly empower you as a home-cook.
First and foremost, condensed milk and evaporated milk are both milk based products. Here is what makes them different:
Evaporated Milk: Evaporated milk starts as whole milk and then goes through a process in which 60% of its water content is extracted. This makes it creamier than regular whole milk and gives it a slightly sweet and caramel taste without the added sugar. It comes in low fat, nonfat and whole milk varieties and is often used as a great – and lighter – alternative to cream in soups. But, before you start altering all of your recipes, I would recommend testing it in a few dishes and seeing where you land.
Sweetened Condensed Milk: Sweetened Condensed Milk, like Evaporated Milk, starts as whole milk where 60% of its water content is extracted. Then, up to 45% sugar is added making it thick and almost syrupy in consistency. Often it is used to sweeten Vietnamese coffee, tres leches, or in cookies like my favorite coconut macaroons. This also comes in a fat-free variety, which I usually use in my kitchen.
If you are wondering whether you can sub one for the other, just remember the above information and the basic properties of each. Using sweetened condensed milk may over-sweeten a recipe where evaporated milk may result in an overly bland outcome. Regardless of what you decide on, remember cooking is all about experimenting, having fun and enjoying the journey. Some of my favorite recipes have come from trial and error so if you have time, give it a shot. You never know, maybe you will walk away with a winner!
For more information: Chicago Tribune: Condensed vs. evaporated milk
Cheers to starting a new tradition around the table together!
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