Hello bakers! If you love American recipes like I do (but don’t live in America), then chances are you’ve been confused once or twice by their ingredients. Have you ever wondered what a graham cracker tastes like? Or what in the world cool whip is? Or where to find marshmallow fluff? Well, you have come to the right place. I’m going to unpack the mystery of common American baking ingredients and hopefully offer a few suggestions of what you can use instead. If you are a fellow Australian like me or from somewhere else in the world where heavy cream, nutter butters and corn syrup cannot be found, you can still create your own American baking masterpieces.
Please note I’m not a professional chef and this information is simply what I have discovered through my own research and plenty of trial and error.
What is Cool Whip? Cool Whip is fake or imitation cream. You may recognise it by it’s stark white colour or lack of flavour when compared to real cream. It is commonly used in American desserts as a topping for pies or in no bake cheesecakes.
Answer: You can substitute Cool Whip for whipped cream in most recipes.
Graham crackers are whole-wheat biscuits that have a lovely honey flavour. They are often used for smores or as a biscuit crust for cheesecakes and pies in America. Unfortunately we don’t have them in Australia, but from my research, Digestive biscuits come the closest to replicating the same flavour and texture.
Answer: Substitute graham crackers for digestive biscuits or any plain sweet biscuit. Or you can make your own if you’re feeling adventurous, there any plenty of recipes floating around online.
Half and Half Milk
Half and half milk is actually equal parts cream and milk, with a high fat content at around 10-12%. It is rich, creamy and extra delicious. Our full fat milk in Australia only has a fat content around 3%.
Answer: Most of the time I substitute half and half milk with full fat or full cream milk. When using small amounts, such as a tablespoon or two in a frosting, you could just replace it solely with cream.
Heavy cream refers to cream that has a fat percentage of approximately 36%, roughly the same as thickened cream here in Australia. I used to think it was the same as our double cream, which has almost 50% fat content, because of the word ‘heavy’ but thickened cream is fine.
Answer: Substitute heavy cream with thickened cream or a cream that has around a 36% fat content.
Marshmallow Fluff or Marshmallow Creme is essentially a light and fluffy frosting that tastes like marshmallows. Made with egg whites, it has the creamy and airy texture of whipped unbaked meringues. It has great volume and body and can be used in frostings, fillings, rice bubble slices or s’mores.
Answer: Find a recipe online and make your own. Or visit a speciality candy store that stocks a good selection of American ingredients, you can usually find a jar there.
All Purpose Flour and Cake Flour
In America, all purpose flour typically has a protein content around 10-12%, while cake flour only has around 7-8%. All purpose flour is the most commonly used flour in American baking, while cake flour is often found in cake recipes as it is said to produce a more soft and tender crumb.
Answer: Replace all purpose flour with plain flour. If you can’t get your hands on cake flour, you can create your own if a recipe calls for it by using the method outlined here.
Don’t let the name fool you, Nila Wafers are not like wafer biscuits in Australia. They are round and thin vanilla biscuits that actually taste like honey tiny teddies! They are commonly used to make banana pudding flavoured desserts in America or as the base for pies or tarts.
Answer: Replace Nila Wafers with any vanilla shortbread biscuits or you could make your own.
Nutter butters are peanut butter biscuits that have a peanut butter filling in the middle. They are commonly used in ice box pies, no bake cheesecake, cookies and cupcakes. Unfortunately we don’t have anything quite like nutter butters in Australia.
Answer: Stash some in your suitcase next time you visit the States. Otherwise, find any peanut butter filled biscuit, make your own or even use Oreos – although this may change the flavour combination.
Corn syrup is a sticky sugar substance made from the starch of maize and is commonly used in candy making, caramels or even cookies. Corn syrup contains roughly about 20% water, while glucose syrup only has 15%.
Answer: In Australian supermarkets we only have glucose syrup. Many recommend substituting 1:1 when it comes to glucose syrup and corn syrup but this may not always be the case, so test your recipe before serving. Some suggest adding a little bit more water when using glucose syrup due to the lower water content but there is no formal method, just trial and error.
I had heard alot about Thin Mints before I ever tasted one. They are a chocolate mint biscuit covered in chocolate and are often used in American cupcakes, cakes, slices and bars. Much like our Arnotts Mint Slices in Australia just without the mint filling.
Answer: Replace thin mints with any chocolate mint biscuit, such as Arnotts Mint Slice or alternatively, you could make your own.
Please leave a comment below with any baking alternatives you commonly use!
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