Sarsheer is a Persian version of thick, fresh cream that's often compared to kaymak, clotted cream, crème fraîche, or mascarpone. It has a creamy, silky consistency and is wonderful on fresh bread like barbari or sangak.
If you've yet to enjoy a large dollop of sarsheer on fresh bread with a drizzle of honey, you're missing out big time! Follow my recipe to whip up a fresh batch of sarsheer for your next Persian breakfast.
Why this Recipe Works
The key ingredient in this recipe is time. When you heat heavy cream for a long period of time (3 ½ hours) a thicker substance separates and rises to the top, forming a creamy layer than can be removed and eaten.
So what's happening in this process? The heating is doing the job of removing the moisture from the cream. This happens because the fat particles in the cream have a lower density than the water content, so they rise to the top while the watery liquid stays at the bottom.
We are using cream that is not highly or ultra-pasteurized. Highly pasteurized products will not separate properly.
Many types of cream like clotted cream, mascarpone, kaymak, and creme fraiche are made using a similar method to this sarsheer recipe, so let's look at the differences:
- Clotted Cream - This is a classic British thick cream made by heating unpasteurized full-fat milk or heavy cream. No other ingredients are added.
- Kaymak - This is made with fresh, unpasteurized milk. Its silky smooth and usually has a distinct rolled form.
- Creme Fraiche - Tart in flavor, this is a cream made from cows milk or heavy cream that has been cultured with bacteria. You can do this by adding cultured buttermilk.
- Mascarpone - This is a curd cheese, unlike the other creams listed here. It's made by adding an acid like lemon juice to heated cream to help it thicken.
What you need for this recipe
All you need to make this is 1 liter or quart of heavy cream. You have to make sure not to use a cream that's highly pasteurized. Regular pasteurized cream will work well. This recipe work with all types of unpasteurized dairy, too, including buffalo, goat, and sheep's milk.
Note: It's important to use a shallow pot that's non-reactive, i.e. stainless steel or enameled cast iron. Aluminum, cast iron, and copper are all reactive and will not work in this recipe.
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How to Make this Recipe
Start by warming the heavy cream over medium heat and whisking it by hand in a back and forth motion for about 5 minutes. Don't let it come to a boil!
Next, put the cream in your stainless steel pan or another non-reactive pan on the lowest heat possible for 3 ½ hours, covered.
Once the 3 ½ hours have passed, turn off the burner and cool the mixture to room temperature, then place the pot, still covered, in the refrigerator overnight.
When you take the pot out the next day, remove the bottom liquid by cutting an opening in the edge of the top layer and pouring the bottom liquid into a container.
Note: You can use the bottom liquid in recipes that call for buttermilk, and even in your coffee or tea. It has a caramelized flavor that is fantastic.
The top is the thick sarsheer. You can cut it into 3-4 rectangles with a spatula and roll them up to serve and store them. This is perfect for spreading on some Noon Barbari with honey or even on some scones.
You can use all types of heavy cream that are organic or raw. The key is to avoid any heavy cream that's ultra-pasteurized, or your sarsheer will not process properly. Try to use the best quality cream you can find.
Sarsheer will keep for up to 2 weeks.
I love to use every part of the heavy cream, and you can use the leftover liquid just like you would buttermilk. Think scones, pancakes, baked goods, all sorts! It has a caramelized flavor that is delicious in coffee or tea, too.
You can indeed freeze sarsheer without the texture changing after thawing. This is a great way to store it for using at a later time.
Complement this sarsheer with more fantastic Persian recipes you can enjoy at breakfast time:
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- 1 liter heavy cream Works with pasteurized, not ultra-pasteurized*
- Warm cream over medium heat and whisk by hand in back and forth motion for about 5 minutes. Do not let it come to a boil.
- Put on lowest heat for 3 ½ hours, covered.
- Cool to room temperature, then put it in the refrigerator overnight, covered.
- Release or strain the bottom liquid.
- Keep your sarsheer in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 2 weeks.