The Whip Cream Guide
Updated: Jan 27
The soft, white, airy peaks of cream melt in your mouth with a delicate, subtle flavor of vanilla or citrus… its whip cream. Whip cream is a highly versatile and widely used element in numerous desserts, so one must know the basics and a few essential tips and tricks to bring your whip cream to the next level.
From how to whip the cream, the different stages of whip cream, how to make the texture like that of a bakery, and how to flavor it, we will help you learn everything you need to know about this simple but delicious creation!
At the very bottom, you'll find my guide to adding flavor and sweetener to make the best whip cream out there.
How to Create Whip Cream
The single most important thing you need to know is the fat level in the cream you're whipping. At a minimum, you're looking for 30% fat. This means it's best to use heavy whipping cream or heavy cream. You won't be making whip cream from skim milk or 2%; you can give it a try, but you'd be standing there for hours with nothing to show! It's crucial to note that your cream MUST be cold when making whip cream or it will just turn to butter and butter milk.
Although cream has a pleasant taste on its own, it is often necessary to add sugar to sweeten the mixture. There are numerous kinds of sugar you can use, which we will save for a later post, but there are two to concern yourself with for whip cream. You can use powdered sugar, known as confectionary sugar, or bakers' sugar, which is ultrafine granulated sugar. With the baker's sugar, you run the slight risk of having your whip cream come out a little gritty, but I've never had a problem with it. I do, however, draw the line at granulated sugar. There is a higher chance of a gritty whip cream mixture when using granulated sugar, so it's best to shy away from it if possible.
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Whip cream is relatively easy in this respect. All you need is a bowl and whisk. You can also use a stand mixer with a whisk attachment or an egg beater. It's also best to use a metal or glass bowl for this task. In addition to the tools, if you're looking to speed up the whip cream process, you can also let your whisk and bowl sit in the fridge or freezer to chill.
You could use numerous flavorings in whip cream, but I will stick to some more common and useful ones. Vanilla is the most common, and once added, your whip cream becomes Vanilla Chantilly. This is the perfect moment to add vanilla paste, which you can read about here, so you can see those little vanilla beans dotted across the smooth white cream. Citrus is also another common addition to flavorings. It is effortless to add a citrus note to your dish, from limes and lemons to oranges. Use a micro planer or fine cheese grater and grate the zest into your cream before whipping. Please DO NOT add the juice of these fruits, as It will cause your cream to curdle. Adding liqueur such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier or even a bit of Irish cream is also common.
Bakery and Restaurant Style Stabilized Whip Cream
Chances are, if you've made whip cream before, you've found that it's been significantly lighter and not as creamy and heavy as a bakery or restaurant. Or you've made whip cream, which turned watery after a few hours. You can add one single and simple addition to make your whip cream heavier, thicker, and feel like it is much higher quality AND prevent it from losing its qualities. Add a touch of unflavored gelatin sprinkled over the top of your cream. This will help thicken the whipped cream and stabilize it to prevent the cream from becoming a pool.
While other blogs tell you to bloom the gelatin in a bit of water, you risk the gelatin clumping together and biting into a jelly-like little pocket in your whip cream. Simply sprinkle it on top, and it will yield the same results.
The Different Stages of Whip Cream
There are four stages of whip cream: soft, medium, stiff, and over-whipped. The most notable here is the stiff peaks, which is most commonly used for decorating. There is also over-whipped, which means you've essentially made butter; I'm sorry, but there is no going back from this… it's time to try again and use the butter on some toast.
For an easy reference, look at the graphic below to learn how to differentiate between the different stages.
“The Flying Chef”
Chef Notes: - If using gelatin to stabilize the whipped cream, the whip cream will thicken slightly over time.