How to Make Whipped Cream

Whipped cream
Fresh whipped cream.

With its smooth texture and rich consistency, whipped cream is the most sublime dessert topping there is.

Served on top of pies, waffles, hot chocolate, milkshakes, as a simple cake frosting, or simply spooned over a bowl of fresh berries, nothing compares to freshly whipped cream.

And you can easily make your own whipped cream in a stand mixer in about five minutes. Here are a few tips:

Use Heavy Whipping Cream

The best cream for whipping is heavy whipping cream, which has 36 to 40 percent butterfat; light whipping cream (30 to 35 percent) will also work, but heavy whipping cream will work better.

The optimal fat content for whipped cream is 35 percent or higher.

Whatever you do, don't try to make ​a low-fat whipped cream. There isn't enough fat in whole milk or even half and half to make a proper whipped cream.

What's happening? When it's whipped, the fat in the cream forms a firm structure which holds the air which is whipped into it. So if there's not enough fat in the cream, the structure won't hold up as well and the cream will deflate.

Remember, too, that whipping will more than double the volume of your cream. So one cup of heavy cream whipped will yield 2 to 2½ cups of whipped cream.

Chill everything

When it's warm, the fat in the cream is more liquid, so it won't hold its shape, making it more difficult to whip, and making the whipped cream less stable.

Have you ever kept a bottle of olive oil in the fridge? It probably solidified, but when you brought it back to room temperature, it turned liquid again.

Same thing with cream. When the fat is cold, it will hold its shape when you whip it, but not as much when it's warm.

This is why it's so important to make sure that the cream, the bowl, the whip and the room you're in are as cold as possible. I like to chill the bowl and the whip in the freezer before I start.

And once you've whipped the cream, serve it right away. If you have to hold it, make sure you keep it cold. But it's best to just whip it and serve it as soon as possible.

Don't Overwhip

Cream is basically an emulsion where fat droplets are suspended in water, and if you whip it too long, the emulsion will break and the fat and water will separate. Therefore, you only want to whip until the cream forms stiff peaks; overwhipping will separate the cream and you'll eventually make butter.

Sweeten with confectioners sugar

Granulated sugar doesn't dissolve as easily, so it will weigh down the structure of the whipped cream. Confectioners sugar is better since it will dissolve more quickly and not destabilize the whipped cream. Sift the confectioner's sugar and add it when the cream has formed soft peaks. Then whip just until it forms stiff peaks.

Here's the procedure:

  1. Chill the mixing bowl and whip attachment of a stand mixer in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  2. Add 2 cups of cold heavy whipping cream to the bowl.
  3. Whip on high speed until soft peaks form.
  4. Add ¼ cup confectioners sugar and continue whipping until stiff peaks form.
  5. Don't overwhip. Once you see stiff peaks, you're done. If you continue whipping past this point the cream will turn grainy. Serve right away or hold in the fridge covered with plastic wrap for 30 minutes.

    Makes about a quart of whipped cream.

    Warm weather tip: A little gelatin can help to stiffen your whipped cream, especially in warmer weather. For every two cups of whipping cream, dissolve 5 grams of gelatin in 2 Tbsp of cold water. Whip the cream until it starts to thicken, then add the gelatin and continue to whip until the peaks hold their shape.