And what about half and half?
Cream is a staple in so many delicious desserts, whether you are adding it to the mix or topping your dessert with a dollop of whipped cream. But the shopping side of the equation can get complicated - is there actually a difference between heavy cream and whipping cream?
The fundamental difference between half and half, whipping cream, and heavy cream, is the amount of butterfat per serving. Half and half is only 10.5 to 18 percent butterfat. Whipping cream is 30 percent butterfat. And heavy cream is the richest by far, at 38 percent butterfat.
(For comparison, butter itself has a butterfat content of 80 percent.)
Incidentally, "heavy cream" and "heavy whipping cream" are the same thing.
The fat content matters, because it's the fat that helps the cream hold its shape when you whip it up. Whipping up heavy cream will result in a thicker, denser whipped cream. And the butterfat also changes the composition of the dessert. Heavy cream will give you a richer dessert.
In a pinch, you can probably substitute one for the other without most people being the wiser. But it's always best to buy the kind of cream your recipe calls for. And leave the half and half for your coffee!