But what exactly sets them apart?
What is Cream Cheese?
Cream cheese is a soft, fresh cheese made from cream or milk. It has a rich, creamy texture and a tangy, slightly sweet flavor.
Cream cheese is made by curdling pasteurized milk or cream with an acid like lemon juice or vinegar. The curds are drained, salted, and then pressed into blocks or molded. After pressing, a bacterial culture is often added to help develop more tangy flavors during aging.
The most common variety is regular Philadelphia-style cream cheese, which has a smooth and spreadable texture. Other varieties like whipped or low-fat cream cheese are also available.
Cream cheese is valued for its versatility. It can be used as a spread, dip, filling, frosting, or baking ingredient. Popular uses include spreading on bagels and toast or blending into dips and cheesecakes.
Key Takeaway: Cream cheese is a fresh, soft cheese with a creamy texture and tangy-sweet flavor. It's made by curdling milk or cream and can be used in both sweet and savory recipes.
What is Clotted Cream?
Clotted cream, sometimes called Devonshire or Cornish cream, is an extra thick cream made by heating milk or cream and allowing the high-fat layer to rise and solidify.
To make traditional clotted cream, fresh milk or cream is gently heated in shallow pans for several hours. A distinct layer of thick, clotted cream then forms on the surface. This top layer is skimmed off and chilled, while the remaining liquid whey is drained or processed into other dairy products.
True clotted cream must have a minimum butterfat content of 55% to achieve its characteristically thick, spreadable texture. Because the cream is slowly cooked, it develops a deeper, nuttier flavor compared to regular cream.
In the southwest of England where it originates, clotted cream remains a beloved accompaniment to scones, tea cakes, and fresh fruit. It can be used like butter or whipped cream as either a topping or filling.
Key Takeaway: Clotted cream is a very high-fat cream that is gently cooked to produce a thick, spreadable texture with a rich, nutty taste.
|Soft, fresh cheese
|Tangy, slightly sweet
|Rich, nutty flavor
|Versatile in cooking/baking
|Topping for scones and desserts
Comparing the Nutrition
Both cream cheese and clotted cream are high in calories and fat since they are concentrated dairy products. However, clotted cream contains even more fat and calories in a typical serving.
A 100-gram serving of cream cheese provides about 350 calories, while 100 grams of clotted cream has roughly 577 calories. The fat content is 34 grams per 100 grams of cream cheese and 63 grams per 100 grams of clotted cream.
So while both are certainly indulgent options, clotted cream is higher in calories and overall fat compared to cream cheese. Nonetheless, both can be enjoyed sparingly as part of an otherwise balanced diet.
Texture and Spreadability
The textures of cream cheese versus clotted cream also differ quite a bit. Cream cheese has a smooth, creamy texture that is easily spreadable straight from the fridge. It can be whipped for an even lighter texture to use in frostings or dips.
Clotted cream has a thicker, clotted consistency resembling softened butter. It is spreadable once warmed slightly but can become hard when chilled. The texture comes from the layer of slowly cooked cream that rises during traditional production.
So while both have a rich, creamy character, clotted cream is thicker and does not spread quite as easily as smooth cream cheese.
Both ingredients taste distinctly creamy, but they have some key flavor differences:
- Cream cheese has a fresh dairy flavor that ranges from sweet to tangy. Full-fat varieties tend to taste richer. The tang comes from added cultures and acidity.
- Clotted cream has a much deeper, nuttier taste since it is slow-cooked. It tastes richer and more buttery compared to regular cream. Any sweetness is mild.
So while both have a fatty, creamy taste, cream cheese is lighter and tangier versus the more robust, cooked flavor of clotted cream.
Uses in Cooking
Cream cheese and clotted cream can both be used to add richness and body to savory and sweet dishes:
- Cream cheese is popular in cheesecakes, dips, sauces, frostings, cookies, and spreads. It mixes smoothly for great texture and spreads easily when chilled. Tangy varieties pair especially well with fruit flavors.
- Clotted cream is traditionally topped on scones or desserts in Southwest England and Cornwall. Its high fat content makes it excellent for adding richness to items like tarts, trifles, or ice cream. It can also season savory dishes like quiche or soup.
So while both work nicely in baking and cooking, cream cheese is easier to incorporate smoothly thanks to its softer texture. Clotted cream is best lightly dolloped or swirled into dishes to showcase its distinctive thick texture.
Key Takeaway: Cream cheese and clotted cream differ quite a bit in their nutrition, texture, flavor, and ideal cooking/baking applications. But both can add delightful creaminess!
Can you make clotted cream from cream cheese?
No, cream cheese and clotted cream are made using very different processes. Clotted cream requires gently heating high-fat dairy to allow the creamy layer to separate and rise. Cream cheese is made by curdling cream or milk with acidity or enzymes.
Is clotted cream better than butter?
This is a matter of personal preference, but clotted cream does have a richer, more indulgent taste compared to butter thanks to its very high milkfat content. However, butter's firmness makes it better suited than clotted cream for tasks like baking.
Should cream cheese be unrefrigerated?
It's unsafe to leave cream cheese or any dairy products at room temperature for over 2 hours. Cream cheese must remain continuously refrigerated to prevent dangerous bacterial growth. Softening briefly on the counter is fine.
Can you freeze cream cheese or clotted cream?
Freezing is not recommended for either ingredient. The texture and flavor balance will degrade. Thawed cream cheese often becomes crumbly and grainy. Clotted cream separates and weeps liquid during freezing. Keep both refrigerated for best quality.
While cream cheese and clotted cream share a similar rich, creamy character, they have distinct textures, flavors, and ideal uses.
Cream cheese is a soft, spreadable cheese with a fresh tanginess.
Clotted cream is an extra thick, slow-cooked cream with a nutty depth.