whipping by hand or with a mixer, whip the cream to
soft or firm peaks, but don't overwhip
last time we talked about whipped cream, George Bush was in
the White House. And if we didnít mention it then, weíre
mentioning it now: itís not enough simply to take cream
and whip it.
have to whip it good.
YOU NEED TO LEARN THIS
thinking of using whipped cream ó pssst: itís the
holiday season ó please, avoid that nasty canned stuff.
Whip your own cream and itíll be like youíre on the road
out of Gomorrah: youíll never look back.
STEPS YOU TAKE
you may be thinking, "Feh. Whipped cream. Whatís to
know? You whip some cream. Done."
I suppose thatís true enough, in a "Brain surgery.
Feh. Whatís to know?" kind of way.
maybe whipped creamís not brain surgery, but it is
surprising complex, chemically speaking:
cream is a foam, and foam is a category of what are called
"colloidal suspensions," something that occurs
when you take two things that donít normally combine ó
in this case liquid and gas ó and combine them.
best known colloid is the emulsion, wherein two
non-combining liquids like oil and vinegar form a
vinaigrette. There, we physically break up oil into
gajillions of teeny-tiny droplets, each of which is
surrounded by vinegar, forming a homogenous liquid.
whipped cream, weíre whipping air bubbles into cream. If
we were just to whip bubbles into cream, then stop whipping,
the bubbles would rise to the top and pop, allowing the air
to escape. By continuing to whip, though, weíre literally
breaking down the fat molecules, changing the way they
interact with one another and allowing them to clump
together, forming a protective coating around the air ó
foam. That protective coating makes it more difficult for
air to escape. The more we mix, the stronger the foam.
order for this to happen, though, there are a couple of
conditions that must be met:
there has to be enough fat. The more fat, the more the
products are defined by the amount of butterfat (also called
milk fat). In order to stabilize a foam, the fat content has
to be above 30 percent. Whole milk is about 3.5 percent fat.
Half and half, about 18 percent. Commercially available
whipping cream is generally 30 percent. Heavy cream is more
like 36 percent, which makes it even more stable.
second condition is, everything has to be cold. If the cream
is warm, the fat will be too soft, too limp to encapsulate
the air. Chilling the fat makes it stiffer. Think about
leaving butter on the counter versus keeping it in the
fridge, where itís nice and cold and firm. On the hot
counter, though, itís soft and melty. And just like itís
easier to spread toast with melty butter, itís easier for
bubbles to escape from warm cream. Dig?
to increase your chances of whipped cream success, keep your
cream in the fridge right up until the time you use it.
Then, shortly before you whip the cream, put the implements
youíll be using ó the bowl, the beaters ó into the
freezer to get freezing cold.
youíll have better luck in cooler kitchens. Generally,
room temperature (around 70 degrees) is fine.
thing: Depending on how youíre using the whipped cream,
you may want to add an additional stabilizer, like gelatin
or confectionerís sugar, which has a small amount of
cornstarch that helps hold the mixture together. Consult
your recipe to see if itís necessary. If youíre just
using it to top fresh berries or a cup of hot cocoa, I
wouldnít worry about it.
you should know that, as you whip the cream, itís going to
move through several stages:
peaks, where the cream is slightly thick and droops off the
whisk when you lift it from the bowl;
peaks, wherein the cream mostly holds its shape when you
pull the whisk from the bowl;
peaks, where, when you hold the beaters straight up in the
air, the peaks stand like creamy white witchesí hats.
continue whipping past the stiff peak stage, the fat
globules coalesce into larger bits, making your whipped
cream grainy. (If this happens, whisk in a little milk,
keep mixing past the grainy stage, the fat globules will
glom onto each other, separating from the liquid, turning
last thing: you can whip cream in a stand mixer or one of
those hand-held electric beaters that make you think itís
1969. Or, if youíre feeling particularly plucky you can
kick it old school, go off the grid and use a good quality
hereís what you do:
Fifteen minutes before you need the whipped cream, place
your mixing bowl and any whisks or beaters you may be using
in the freezer.
minutes before you need it, pour cream into your bowl along
with a teaspoon of powdered sugar if youíre using it. If
youíre using an electric mixer of any kind, start mixing
on slow. If youíre using a hand whisk, whisk at a pace of
about 4 downstrokes per second.
the cream thickens, increase speed to quicken the process.
When the cream reaches the level of whippedness that you
desire, turn off the machine and youíre ready to go.
now, wasnít that easy?