We've partnered with Vitamix to share recipes, videos, and tips that bring a touch of excitement and innovation to tried-and-true dishes. Up next, a dessert essential: whipped cream!
Don't weep, whipped cream, it's all going to be alright. Sure, you have a tendency to lose your spine as you sit out for a while (you fall, you run, and, no offense, you become a little unappetizing), but we're about to fix that.
Chin up! There are lots of ways to make longer-lasting, more stable whipped cream that won't have a breakdown as it graces chocolate cake, strawberry ice, rhubarb buckle, or a pile of vegetables (yes, you read that right). That means more opportunity to prep in advance and less of an urge to rush through dinner to get to that cream-topped lemon custard pie (though, let's be real, I do that no matter what).
The methods for achieving dependable whipped cream fall into two main categories: additional ingredients or whipping technique. Here's how to make fluffy, swoopy whipped cream that'll last as long as your dreamiest summer party:
Pastry chefs often look to gelatin for weep-less whipped cream with no unwanted flavor that will retain its fluff for up to 24 hours in advance (Cook's Illustrated also declared gelatin the best stabilizer of the bunch). To make about 3 cups of whipped cream, melt 1/2 teaspoon gelatin in 1 1/2 tablespoons of water (need a gelatin refresher? Here you go). Whip 1 1/2 cups of cream on medium speed just until the beaters leave a trail, then slowly stream in the gelatin and beat on high until soft peaks form.
Baking queen Rose Levy Beranbaum recommends using a small amount of cornstarch. To make 2 cups of whipped cream, you'll first need to whisk the cornstarch with powdered sugar to prevent clumps (Beranbaum recommends 1 teaspoon cornstarch and 2 tablespoons sugar). Then, add this to a portion of the cream (1/4 cup), bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, and let it cool completely. Next, whip the remaining cream (3/4 cup) until the beaters leave marks, stream in the cornstarch mixture, and beat until you have peaks of the desired consistency. (Food52er sdebrango has a similar recipe here.)
This may sound like a bit too much trouble—and the mixture won't hold up well at room temp—but your whipped cream will survive on a cake in the refrigerator for 24 hours (and Beranbaum says that "many people have reported that this recipes has saved their lives").
But let's say you don't want to add gelatin (hi, vegetarians) or cornstarch (too finicky). That brings you to crème fraîche, which I learned about from Chef Nancy Silverton via Kristen Miglore. I also saw this done at the restaurant where I used to work: We'd make "CFW"—crème fraîche whip—in the morning to last through the end of dinner service.
Crème fraîche not only adds a touch of tangy sophistication to plain ol' whipped cream, but the extra fat (42% butterfat compared to heavy cream's 30%) helps capture and retain air bubbles for added resilience. Silverton instructs whipping the cream to soft peaks and then gently folding in the crème fraîche by hand. I took a shortcut and used the Vitamix Aer™ Disc Container: I added the cream and crème fraîche to the container, started on the lowest setting, then increased to high speed for 10 to 15 seconds. Done!
Yogurt or sour cream
If you don't have crème fraîche on hand, yogurt (full-fat plain or Greek) or sour cream will have a similar life-boosting effect. Start off with 1/2 cup of yogurt per 1 cup of heavy cream (simply whip them together until you have soft peaks), knowing that you can add a little more yogurt to taste.
And maybe we're stretching the bounds of what can be considered "whipped cream," but, for her "cheater's whipped cream," Erin McDowell mixes heavy cream into a mixture of fluffy cream cheese and powdered sugar. This creates a sweet, tangy mixture that's as light and swoopable as traditional whipped cream yet strong enough to hold up three layers of cake-sized shortcakes—plus tons of juicy strawberries—in her Not-So-Short Cake.
Take a break from your stand mixer.
Instead, use a food processor, an immersion blender, or the Vitamix Aer™ Disc Container for dense, smooth, stable whipped cream made in almost no time. In other words: Don't walk away from the machine.
Use a mesh strainer to stabilize.
Or, if you want to whip the cream ahead of time, but to not necessarily adorn your pie or cake in advance, you can hold the whipped cream in a fine mesh strainer over a bowl for up to eight hours, according to Cook's Illustrated.
Don't completely neglect your wire whisk.
And for the lowest maintenance option, just whip your cream as usual, store the covered bowl in the refrigerator, then take a wire whisk to it, reincorporating any runaway liquid, right before you're ready to use it.
So now that you've got whipped cream that won't die out on you, what shall you do with it? I like to use crème fraîche whip to top a pavlova. Since the meringue can also be made ahead of time, you've got an easy-to-prep dessert that won't fade if dinner drones on.
This berry-topped version is flavored with almond and cardamom (a combination I love), but you could easily replace the almond extract with vanilla extract and/or omit the cardamom entirely. Flavor the whipped cream how you'd like and switch up the fruit, too. Two fun ideas: chocolate whipped cream with brûléed bananas; or date syrup whipped cream with crumbled halva and fresh figs.
But that's not all! Fill a cream puff, top a shortcake, smother a vanilla cake, or simply set a few punnets of berries next to a billowing bowl of whipped cream and have it.
For the meringue:
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (or use vanilla extract)
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 cup (200 grams) sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch, arrowroot powder, or potato starch
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
- 120 grams egg whites, from about 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 pinch salt
For the whipped cream and the strawberries:
- 1 quart strawberries, sliced or halved
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons crème fraîche
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
- 1 pint raspberries
- Toasted slivered almonds, for garnish (optional)
What are your favorite ways to use whipped cream? Tell us in the comments below!
Long gone are the days of droopy, melty whipped cream. With some help from our partner Vitamix, makers of the Aer™ Disc Container, you can whip together a batch with serious staying power—and little-to-no effort on your part.