Frozen and powdered whipped toppings are convenient and long-lasting, but nothing beats the flavor and texture of fresh, homemade whipped cream. It's the perfect topping for gingerbread, fresh strawberries or strawberry shortcake, and it is the best topping for a luscious cream pie. It also makes a delicious filling for cream puffs.
Did you know you could freeze whipped cream? All you have to do is whip it, drop or pipe mounds of whipped cream onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and then freeze until they're solid. Transfer the whipped cream mounds to a sealable container or freezer bag and store them in the freezer for up to 3 months. Take the frozen mounds out of the freezer about 10 to 15 minutes before you plan to serve.
The basic recipe for sweetened whipped cream is flavored with confectioners' sugar and vanilla, but there are many other possible flavors, colors, and add-ins. Below the recipe, you'll find some helpful preparation tips and several popular whipped cream variations.
- 1 cup heavy cream (or whipping cream, chilled)*
- 2 to 4 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a mixing bowl with an electric mixer, whip the chilled cream until almost stiff.
- Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla; beat until cream holds peaks.
- Spread the whipped cream over top of cooled pie or dollop on bread pudding, gingerbread, cobblers, or other desserts.
*Whipping cream (or "light whipping cream") contains 30 to 36% milk fat while heavy cream (or "heavy whipping cream") contains 36 to 40%.
- One cup of whipping cream or heavy cream will yield 2 cups of whipped cream.
- Confectioners' sugar contains cornstarch which helps stabilize the whipped cream. You can use granulated sugar—preferably superfine—or brown sugar, but it will lack the extra stability and might remain slightly grainy.
- Your cream will whip faster if you chill the bowl and beaters in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Begin whipping the cream on a low or medium-low speed and increase the speed as it thickens. This will keep spatters to a minimum.
- Use a bowl that is deep enough for the cream to double in volume. A deep bowl will also keep spatters contained.
- Don't add sugar or flavorings until the cream is thick and begins to form soft peaks.
- Don't overbeat the cream. If solid clumps of butter are beginning to form, you've gone too far.
- Maple Whipped Cream: Omit the sugar and vanilla and beat 3 tablespoons of the darkest maple syrup into the cream when it begins to form soft peaks.
- Chocolate Whipped Cream: Put 3 ounces of chopped semisweet chocolate in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream with 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar. Bring the cream to a boil and then pour it over the chocolate; stir until smooth. Refrigerate the chocolate and cream mixture until thoroughly chilled. Transfer the chilled mixture to a larger bowl and beat it to soft or stiff peaks.
- Spiced Whipped Cream: Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon along with the powdered sugar and flavoring.
- Citrus Whipped Cream: Replace the flavoring with about 1 tablespoon of finely grated lemon or orange zest.
- Lemon Curd Whipped Cream: Make the whipped cream with 1 tablespoon of confectioners' sugar and omit the vanilla. When stiff peaks form, whisk 3 tablespoons of chilled lemon curd into the cream.
- Liqueurs: Replace the flavoring or add to it with a tablespoon or two of a flavored liqueur. Try coffee-flavored liqueur, amaretto (almond-flavored), Cointreau or Grand Marnier (orange), Chambord (raspberry), or a hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelico. The possibilities are endless!
- Coffee Flavored Whipped Cream: Add 2 teaspoons of instant espresso or coffee granules to the cream before whipping and use the larger amount (4 tablespoons) of powdered sugar.