Here are two of the sweetest words you’ll read all week: whipped cream.
Who doesn’t love the thick, rich, saccharine clouds of deliciousness topped on desserts, fruit, or just about anything else?
Too bad most of us equate whipped cream with stuff that comes bursting from the nozzle of a can or, even worse, sitting in a tub.
Real whipped cream is a treat that can be made at home in about five minutes with the proper equipment, and, via that proper equipment, is as easy as pouring ingredients and then flicking a switch.
As you might have already guessed, that “equipment” I’m referring to is a mixer. Doesn’t matter much what kind. From a cheap hand mixer to that anchor of a KitchenAid Artisan that is a proverbial favorite on wedding registries, the idea is to have a machine that can mix fast enough to incorporate enough air into cream to transform it from a milky like substance to the sweet fluffs we know as whipped cream.
While you can do this process by hand, it will command quite a workout, just like the very similar task of turning egg whites from liquid into stiff peaks when making meringues and soufflés. If you must do it the manual way, use a balloon whisk.
There are two important guidelines when making whipped cream: The cream needs to be good and cold, and it needs to have a fat content of at least 30 percent. You can use the stuff labeled “whipping cream” or “heavy cream,” as long as it has that fat content, which helps keep things stable.
If your kitchen is terribly hot, it helps to chill the mixing bowl and whisk ahead of time in the refrigerator for an hour or a few minutes in the freezer. Doing this will help combat the heat created by friction as the mixer’s whisk beats the cream.
Of course, whipped cream, as good as it is on its own (don’t try to pretend you haven’t sprayed it from the bottle directly into your mouth) is even better when paired with other sweet goodness, and then used in a luscious dessert.
Additions to the whipped cream itself are a snap. Table sugar is the obvious choice as a sweetener, or you can use honey or confectioner’s sugar. Cocoa creates chocolate whipped cream, while espresso powder yields a caffeinated kick.
As for the overall dessert, I like whipped cream so much that I’ve created my very own ode to it: The Whipped Cream Parfait. Teamed with crunchy granola and sweet berries, whipped cream takes the place of yogurt found in traditional breakfast parfaits, making this version fluffier and perfectly suited for dessert. Here’s how to make it happen:
Wicked Good Whipped Cream Parfait
(Makes 4 servings)
- 8 ounces whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 2/3 cups granola
- 15-ounce can blueberries in light syrup (or your choice of fruit)
- Garnish: Sliced almonds, mint sprig
- Music to make it by: How about something breezy and a bit sweet — Chris Isaak’s Baja Sessions.
Step 1: Pour the cream into the mixing bowl. Lower the whisk and turn the machine on low so you don’t end up wearing the cream. Add the sugar and vanilla and steadily increase the speed to high.
Step 2: Let the machine whirl undisturbed for about five minutes or until the cream is nice and thick. There, you just made whipped cream. Told you it was a snap.
Step 3: Let’s build the parfaits. Using a tall, chilled glass, fill the bottom with granola, then scoop a dollop of whipped cream over that. Now add a layer of the fruit, including some of the juice. Repeat until you’ve reached the top of each glass.
Step 4: Finish things off by adding a sprig of mint and some sliced almonds or another topping like chocolate sprinkles or a maraschino cheery.
Congratulations: You’ve just made an easy summer dessert that will delight your friends and family! And after experiencing real whipped cream, you may never go back to that bottled stuff.
Did you try this recipe? Write about your experience, ask questions or share advice in the comments area below.
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