01/06/2015 07:00 am ET Updated Jan 10, 2015

What Exactly Is Half And Half?


You use it in your coffee every morning, or at least you know someone who does. It's a fixture in your daily routine and at diners across the country. We're talking, of course, about half and half. You may see it everywhere, but do you know exactly what half and half is? Allow us to take the embarrassing fall and ask the question so you don't have to: What the f*ck is half and half? We know it's half of something and half of something else, but what are these two, mysterious halves?

Of course, the two halves in half and half aren't mysterious at all. Half and half is simply half whole milk and half cream. In the UK, they call it half cream. According The Kitchn, half and half typically has a 10 to 12 percent fat content, which, it stands to reason, means it's less fatty than cream and fattier than milk. You don't need to wait for your morning coffee for this all to make sense.

Half and half isn't just for coffee, either. It's great for cooking, whether you want something creamy but not too heavy, or when your recipes call for both milk and cream. The Kitchn suggests you use half and half for ice cream, chocolate ganache, scrambled eggs, or cream sauce. If you add half and half to a deglazed pan, you'll end up with a rich and flavorful sauce for everything from pasta to chicken. Finally, The Kitchen suggests using half and half for White Russians, if drinking a glass full of cream with your vodka doesn't really appeal. You can add it to oatmeal, whip it into mashed potatoes, and even make a crème brûlée with half and half. The one thing you can't use it for is whipped cream, because the fat content isn't high enough.

Outside the U.S., half and half might also refer to something that doesn't have anything to do with milk or cream. In Ireland it might refer to a drink made of Guinness and Harp Lager, and in Brussels it might mean a mixture of Champagne and white wine. Don't worry: the little containers you see everywhere in America, on deli counters and in coffee shops across the nation, contain no alcohol. You'll have to add Bailey's to your coffee for that.

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