Serves a Crowd

Whipped Cream Frosting

May  4, 2011
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

I love whipped cream frosting but found that just whipping cream with sugar and vanilla didn't hold up very well. I found this recipe in James McNair's Cakes and it is really good. Holds up well, is not too sweet, and spreads nicely. —sdebrango

Test Kitchen Notes

If you are looking for a super simple frosting that lets the cake shine, whipped cream is the way to go. Unlike a buttercream, which is rich to a fault (it's called buttercream, after all), whipped cream is relatively light and delightfully fluffy. Not to mention, its ingredient list and method are as simple as can be.

That all said, whipped cream isn't quite stable enough to hold its own when it comes to frosting a cake. Which is why you need to call in some reinforcements for added stability.

For example, in Erin McDowell's Genius Strawberry Not-So-Shortcake, this means adding cream cheese to the whipped cream (which obviously adds a cream cheesy flavor, too).

In this community recipe from Food52er Sdebrango, the secret ingredient is cornstarch. Used to thicken everything from pastry cream to gravy, cornstarch is neutral-flavored, and a little really goes a long way. Here, you heat up some with a bit of cream, then add this mixture to more cream and whip it.

As is, vanilla extract is the only flavoring. You could skip it altogether, for a pure sweet cream flavor, or swap in something else. Think: fresh herbs infused into the warm cream (discard them before whipping), instant espresso powder, almond extract, lemon zest...

This whipped cream frosting would be divine with a fudgy chocolate cake, a moist yellow cake, or even a carrot cake (for a lighter twist from the usual cream cheese). You could also put it toward cupcakes or pound cake loaves. —The Editors

Watch This Recipe
Whipped Cream Frosting
  • Prep time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Makes enough to generously frost a 9-inch layer cake
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In This Recipe
  1. Place a metal bowl and the whisk attachment of a stand mixer (or the beaters of a hand-held mixer) in the freezer to chill.
  2. Combine the powdered sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan, and whisk. Slowly stir in 1/2 cup heavy cream until smooth. Place on medium heat and stir constantly, to prevent scorching at the bottom, until the mixture thickens and almost comes to a boil. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl, and set aside stirring occasionally until it reaches room temperature. Make sure it is completely cooled before adding to the heavy cream—very important!
  3. In the chilled bowl, combine the remaining 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream and vanilla extract, and beat with a stand mixer or hand-held mixer until the cream begins to hold shape (it will still be rather loose). While still beating, add the creamy confectioners' sugar mixture, a little at a time. Beat just until the cream forms stiff peaks when the beater is raised and is spreadable, but be careful not to over beat. Use immediately.

See Reviews

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • sdebrango
  • Teresa Austin
    Teresa Austin
  • pqmommy
  • India Simmons
    India Simmons
  • Lilebeth Estafia
    Lilebeth Estafia
I have loved to cook for as long as I can remember, am self taught learning as I go. I come from a large Italian family and food was at the center of almost every gathering. My grandfather made his own wine and I remember the barrels of wine in the cellar of my grandfathers home, I watched my mother and aunts making homemade pasta and remember how wonderful it was to sit down to a truly amazing dinner. Cooking for me is a way to express myself its my creative outlet. I enjoy making all types of food but especially enjoy baking, I live in Brooklyn, NY, and I share my home with my two dogs Izzy and Nando. I like to collect cookbooks and scour magazines and newspapers for recipes. I hope one day to organize them.