Do you love whipped cream? No, not the stuff you get from a can! I’m talking about real old-fashioned whipped cream– fluffy and cloud-like in appearance while full of rich, creamy flavor. It’s the kind of stuff that can take an ordinary bowl of fruit or a slice of pie and make extraordinary! With only 3 ingredients and 10 minutes to spare, you can whip up this decadent treat whenever the mood strikes. I promise it will change the way you look at desserts!
The secret to making whipped cream lies in the cream’s milkfat. As you begin to whisk, air is deposited into the liquid and turns the cream frothy. While some volume is created, if you stopped at this point the air would eventually dissipate and your bowl would return back to its original liquid state. However if you continue to fold air into the cream, something amazing happens! The fat molecules, being jumbled around by the whisk, will actually join together, suspending the air. The air, now stabilized in the pockets of fat, causes the cream to double in size and creates that soft, fluffy effect we all know and love!
Not just any milk will do. In order for all this to happen, you need to make sure that you use a cream with a minimum milkfat content of 30%. Heavy Cream, with a milkfat content of 36%, and Whipping Cream, with a milkfat content between 30-35%, can both be found at your local supermarket. Don’t bother with any other types of milk! Fat-free and low-fat whipped creams do not exist naturally.
What else do you need? Sugar and vanilla extract are added to the heavy cream to give it a full-bodied and sweet flavor. You will also need a metal whisk and a stainless-steel bowl to prepare. It doesn’t matter if you use a metal whisk, electric hand-beater or a stand mixer, the results remains the same.
The colder the cream, the lighter and fluffier your topping will be. Always keep your cream in the refrigerator until you are ready to start making. The process of whisking the cream can generate a bit of internal heat, so in order to counteract this effect, place your metal bowl and beaters in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before using. The extra chill from the bowl and whisks will help to stabilize the cream while whipping for a light and airy result.
Whipped cream takes shape in stages and it is important that you do not over-whip your cream. Below is a visual guide to help you identify the stages for a perfect bowl of whipped cream. Start by adding the heavy cream and vanilla extract to your chilled bowl. Begin beating on low. You will notice small trails starting to form in the cream that slowly disappear. This is the Soft Peak stage.
At this point, add the sugar. You may notice some of the milkfat separating and starting to float on the surface of the cream. This is normal as the pockets of air begin to get trapped. If using an electric mixer, you can now turn the speed up to medium.
Next up is the Medium Peak stage. Here you will notice clear trails forming where the whisk has been. While the cream is starting to take on volume it is not yet completely stable. Peaks will begin to stand up but you will notice the tips slowly softening back into themselves.
You must pay extra attention to the cream once you reach the Medium Peak stage. The cream will quickly turn into the Stiff Peak stage, where the trails run deep through the cream and the peaks of the cream hold their shape and do not fall down.
Once you see the first stiff peaks starting to form, stop! Over-beating whipped cream will cause the fat molecules to break apart and you will be on your way to making butter (the first sign of this is when the cream starts to look grainy). Butter is made then fat molecules break apart again and separate from the liquid, so always err on the side of caution when you first start making whipped cream. Less is usually more!
Homemade whipped cream tastes best right after it is made. You can make up a batch a couple of hours ahead of time, but since it takes less than 10 minutes to make, I recommend whipping it up right before serving. Make sure to keep any unused whipped cream refrigerated and if you notice the peaks starting to fall, use a hand whisk to add some air and refresh.