Get Real About Whipped Cream
Summer is all about simplicity and what could be easier or more delicious than fresh fruit topped with sweet, luscious whipped cream?
I’m not talking about whipped cream out of a pressurized can or from a tub of frozen dessert topping. Both of those products are useful, but sweet summer fruits and decadent treats demand the real thing. Homemade whipped cream is light, creamy, soft, rich and scrumptious. Best of all, it’s truly simple to make and can even be made ahead of time if you use my tips below.
Whisking or beating cream, either by hand or with an electric mixer, adds air to the liquid. The air forms bubbles that are coated with a watery film and fat droplets. As more air is beat in, the fat droplets begin to stick together, making the cream thicker. When enough fat droplets stick together, the cream forms soft peaks and is ready to be enjoyed.
Since fat droplets are vital for whipped cream’s structure, use higher fat dairy products–whipping cream (30 to 36% fat) or heavy cream (greater than 36% fat). The higher the fat content, the firmer the resulting whipped cream. It is possible to whip lower-fat dairy products, but they deflate quickly.
COLD keeps the structure-forming fat droplets from melting. Place the mixing bowl (metal works best) along with the beaters or whisk in the refrigerator or freezer for 5 to 10 minutes prior to whipping. And leave the cream in the refrigerator until the last second.
Also, try some of the many variations:
• Chocolate Whipped Cream—perfect on top of berries, pound cake or coffee.
• Cinnamon Whipped Cream—use on sliced peaches, pumpkin pie or apple crisp.
• Yogurt Whipped Cream—use anytime you want a less sweet topping, such as on summer fruits or coffee cake.
• Espresso Whipped Cream—good on chocolate cake, pumpkin pie or coffee cake.
• Mocha Whipped Cream—try on coffee, flan, vanilla ice cream or berries.
• Strawberry Whipped Cream—use on pound cake, brownies, hot chocolate or summer fruits.
• Bourbon Whipped Cream—perfect atop pumpkin pie or pecan pie.
• Liqueur Whipped Cream—delicious on summer fruits or coffee.
The best whipped cream is served right away because it can easily deflate. In the past, I’ve desperately whipped cream between the main course and dessert. Now, I almost make whipped cream using one of the methods below. They all work with any of the flavor variations from the Basic Whipped Cream recipe.
The easiest method uses a commercial product, such as “Whip-It” from Dr. Oetker. Just follow the package directions and the cream will stay soft and fluffy in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. Usually whipped cream stabilizers are in the baking aisle of your grocery store.
Don’t despair if you can’t find a product on the shelf.
Our recipe for Easy Make-ahead Whipped Cream whips a nearly melted marshmallow into the cream, keeping the refrigerated whipped cream soft and billowy for 2 to 3 hours. Shirley O. Corriher, one of my favorite food scientists, suggested this technique in her book, CookWise, and I think it’s brilliant.
But if you need whipped cream to stay firm even longer, try our recipe for Classic Make Ahead Whipped Cream. It uses unflavored gelatin, resulting in a very firm topping. It’s perfect for frosting cakes or topping torts. Refrigerated, it stays firm for 3 to 4 days.