Is there anything dreamier than freshly whipped cream? When whipped cream is prepared well, it is an ambrosial foodstuff that has the power to make any dessert it tops even better, from ice cream sundaes to pie to hot chocolate. Of course, I’m not averse to enjoying it on a spoon, all by its delicious self.
Whipped cream doesn’t always turn out so well, though. When made poorly, whipped cream can come out grainy and separated, too sweet or not sweet enough, or too thin and messy. However, in spite of these possible pitfalls, making whipped cream is not a kitchen project fraught with peril: once you master the basics, you’ll be on your way to making perfect whipped cream every time.
What is whipped cream? In a nutshell, whipped cream is heavy cream which has been whipped until it becomes light and fluffy. Chemically speaking, what happens when you whip cream is that the air gets trapped between a sort of network of fat droplets, and the cream becomes fluffy and roughly doubled in volume.
10 Common Mistakes to Avoid when Making Whipped Cream. Often enough, when whipped cream goes awry, it’s due to one of these common mistakes. Here, we’ll discuss each of them and how to easily remedy them so that you can make the smooth, creamy whipped cream of your dreams, every time.
- You don’t chill your cream. This is probably the number one rookie mistake when making whipped cream. The cream must be cold when you start, or it will not whip correctly.
If the cream is too warm, the fat becomes ineffective as a stabilizer, and your cream will fall flat. The cream may thicken, but even vigorous whipping will not make it attain lofty heights and a fluffy texture.
For best results, don’t just chill the cream: chill the bowl you’ll use for whipping and the whisk or beater, as well.
- You don’t use the right kind of cream. If you go to the grocery store dairy aisle, you’ll find a multitude of cream types. Light cream. Heavy cream. Heavy whipping cream. Which is the best to use?
The best options, according to Grub Geek, are heavy cream and heavy whipping cream, which both contain 36% or more butterfat. Whipping cream (the non “heavy”) kind contains a little less fat, but still enough to be whipped. Basically, any cream with 30% or more butterfat will whip.
Of course, if you’re vegan, don’t despair: dairy alternatives that have a high fat content, such as coconut cream, can also be used to create whipped cream.
Half and half and milk (even whole milk) does not work for whipping, as they do not contain enough fat to hold bubbles of air between its fat molecules.
- You don’t add the sweetener at the proper moment. Do you add sugar to your cream right when you start mixing? Next time, hold off. Sugar can actually inhibit the cream from thickening, so it’s best to allow the cream to gain some thickness and structure before you add any sweetener or flavoring.
If you look at recipes for whipped cream, they’ll often request that you whip the cream until soft peaks form, then pause to add your flavoring or sweetener, then whip until firm peaks form. Follow these steps for perfect results every time.
- You add the wrong amount of sweetener. While the wrong amount of sugar might not ruin your whipped cream, it might not yield the flavor experience you were hoping for.
Too little sugar can yield a whipped cream that doesn’t add enough sweetness to your dessert. For instance, if you’re topping fresh fruit with whipped cream and it doesn’t have enough sweetener, there won’t be enough of a sweet contrast, and it’s not going to taste like dessert. Using two to four tablespoons of sugar per cup of whipping cream is a good balance for a sweet whipped cream.
On the other hand, a thickly sweetened dish such as an ice cream sundae or butterscotch pudding doesn’t need too much sweetness, and a whipped cream with a couple of teaspoons of sugar, or no sweetener at all, may be the best way to go.
Consider the dish you’ll be topping with whipped cream, and sweeten accordingly.
- You don’t use the proper whisking utensil. If you try to use a wooden spoon to make whipped cream, your results will definitely not be as fluffy and light as you’d like. In general, you want to use a tool which is going to incorporate plenty of air into the cream. A whisk is an ideal tool; personally, I like to use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment so I don’t wear out my arm.
A hand whisk will also work to whip cream, but it will take much longer than a whisk beater on a stand or hand mixer.
- You don’t stabilize your whipped cream in hot weather. No matter how perfectly your whipped cream is made, if it is hot and humid out, it will wilt and melt. Adding a stabilizer to your whipped cream can help it maintain structure in the heat and humidity.
There are a number of different ways to stabilize whipped cream; this post details several, including adding marshmallow fluff or butter to the mixture.
- You over whip. It’s easy to progress from perfectly whipped cream to a grainy mess–and fast. So how do you know when it’s time to stop?
The moment to stop is exactly when the cream has reached your desired consistency. The way that cream whips is like so: first it thickens, then it attains “soft peaks” (if you swirl it with a spoon it will gently hold the shape), and then it gets lighter and attains “firm peaks” (if you twirl it with a spoon it retains its shape firmly).
Anywhere from the soft peak to the firm peak stage is acceptable for whipped cream–you can whip it to your preference. However, stop mixing once the mixture has attained firm peaks, because after that point, the fat solids will begin to separate, making your mixture grainy.
If you do in fact over whip your cream, unfortunately there is no way to undo the error, but don’t throw the cream away–keep on whipping and you can actually make homemade butter.
- You try to make it in a rush. Whipped cream is a quick dish to make, but be sure to set aside the time so that you can give it the proper attention. First things first: chill your cream. This means that if you’ve bought it then ran a few errands, it’s going to need a few hours in the refrigerator to come back to a chilly temperature. Be sure that you have time to pay attention to your whipped cream.
- You’re eager to use your whipped cream…right away. But if you put it on top of a brownie that is still warm, your whipped cream will melt. If your dessert isn’t quite ready for the whipped cream, put the whipped cream in the refrigerator. It will keep just fine for several hours.
Conclusion: Making perfect whipped cream might seem tricky at first, but by learning from these common mistakes, you’re already ahead of the curve. By giving your whipped cream the time, attention, and using the proper tools, you’ll end up with great results every time.
Do you like whipped cream on top of desserts?