Clotted cream is a traditional British topping that originated in England. It is a smooth, yellow cream that is very thick and indulgent. It is believed that clotted cream originated in Devon as well as Cornwall in the southwestern corner of England, but it is also successfully made in Yorkshire (which does not sit very well with those from the Southwest). It is also called Devonshire, Devon clotted cream, or Cornish clotted cream, depending on where it was made.
The dish is traditionally made with full-fat unpasteurized cow's milk, although many recipes today feature heavy cream. In order for it to be considered authentic clotted cream, it needs to contain about 55 percent butterfat. The milk or cream is heated in a shallow pan for many hours until the cream rises to the surface and thickens or clots (hence the name). This thickened cream is skimmed off the top and is served with scones, at afternoon teas, and on summer berries. It has the consistency of softened cream cheese and tastes similar to a quality unsalted butter. It is sold in jars depending on the brand, and it is at least three times the price of whipped cream.
Place of Origin: England
Main Component: heavy cream
Most Common Use: on scones with jam
Clotted Cream Uses
Clotted cream is an essential component of either a Devon or Cornish cream tea (a light meal with afternoon tea). It would be unheard of to have a cream tea without clotted cream, which is served in place of butter. Depending on the county where one is enjoying the clotted cream, it is either spread on the scone first and then topped with jam, or the jam goes on first followed by the cream.
The cream is not restricted to afternoon teas, however. It is used in much the same way as heavy or whipping cream (called double or thick cream in the U.K.). In the summer months, it is common to serve a huge dollop of clotted cream on fresh strawberries, or any berry, for that matter. Clotted cream is too thick to use in or on a cake and cannot be whipped like heavy cream. Whereas heavy and light cream can be cooked, clotted cream cannot.
What Does It Taste Like?
Clotted cream has a mildly sweet flavor often described as having a nutty, cooked milk taste. It has been characterized as falling somewhere between whipped cream and butter in terms of its richness.
Clotted Cream Recipes
The ubiquitous accompaniment for clotted cream is a scone, along with some jam, but the British specialty is also delicious with muffins and quick bread. Contemporary cooks have also incorporated clotted cream into recipes like fudge, ice cream, and chocolate truffles.
- Easy British Scones (Serve with clotted cream and jam on top.)
- Chocolate Truffles (Replace the cream cheese with clotted cream.)
- Vanilla Fudge (Swap out the sour cream for clotted cream.)
Where to Buy Clotted Cream
Unlike other types of cream, the clotted variety travels very well, and because of this, the cream has been sent through the mail for decades to all corners of the world.
Clotted cream is sold in jars ranging in size from 1 to 8 ounces and can be found online and perhaps in very well-stocked supermarkets. To ensure it is authentic, it needs to come from Devon or Cornwall; Cornish clotted cream is a holder of the EU's Protection of Designated Origin. That means it can officially be labeled as highly coveted Cornish clotted cream if it is produced from milk from Cornwall and is 55 percent butterfat. The unique, slightly yellow, Cornish clotted cream color is due to the high carotene levels in the grass. Clotted cream from Stamfrey Farm in Yorkshire is also an acceptable variety.
It is also very easy to make your own clotted cream. All you need is heavy cream, an oven, and a lot of time.
Clotted cream—both homemade and store-bought—has a short shelf life. The clotted cream needs to be refrigerated, and once the jar is opened, it will last only three days. Homemade clotted cream will stay fresh for three to four days but can be frozen for longer storage.
Nutrition and Benefits
Clotted cream is high in calories, fat, and cholesterol, but is a good source of vitamin A. Since it has a minimum of 55 percent butterfat (regular cream has 18 percent), it should be eaten in moderation.
Baker CGJ, Ranken MD, Kill RC. Food Industries Manual (24th Edition). Springer. 2012.