Tuesday, March 13, 2012

So Easy to Whip Up, You Can't Beat It


Whipped cream isn't whipped cream at all unless it's been whipped with whips. Everybody knows that. 
                                                                   ~ Willy Wonka


Let me guess…

You buy whipped cream in an aerosol can. No? Ok, then you buy it in a tub in the freezer section. Yeah, I knew it; I could smell your kind from across the internet. I mean I don’t blame you; it’s easy, just defrost and enjoy. Dip some strawberries, frost a cake, sandwich two chocolate chip cookies together, it’s convenient, I get it.

Well, like 95% of everything else we buy that is convenient for us, have you ever stopped to look at the ingredients of what you’re consuming? Ok, fair argument; if you’re sandwiching two chocolate chip cookies together with some “whipped topping”, I doubt you care about what is in it. Touché, sir. Well to quote a Wired Magazine article:

“A delicious blend of sugar, wax, and condom lube… At 41 cents per ounce, you're buying mostly water and air for just over twice what it would cost to whip real cream yourself.”

Sugar, wax, and condom lube. Mmmm, how do those strawberries taste now? Want the full ingredient list? Be my guest, although I should warn you, if you’re a fan of this stuff, ignorance is bliss.

Don’t feel bad, I used to eat this stuff all the time. Like we agreed, it’s convenient. Although, considering what I just read, I don’t know about you, but this stuff isn't going into my body anymore. Nope, if I’m getting fat, it’s going to be from something a lot more natural and better tasting. A man’s gotta have standards.

I hope I got the attention of whipped cream, or “whipped topping” lovers, out there. Because here’s a little secret: Whipped cream… it’s not complicated to make. It’s not rocket science, and it certainly doesn’t require 20 or more ingredients. If you make whipped cream at home, I promise you, it’ll be 100 times better than anything you buy in the store. Not only that, you’ll feel so much better about eating that chocolate chip sandwich:

Whipped Cream:

                           1 pint ~ Heavy Whipping Cream
3 generous tablespoons ~ Powdered Sugar
                 2 teaspoons ~ Vanilla Extract 
                1 tablespoon ~ Cocoa Powder (if you want chocolate whipped cream)

Yeah, it’s seriously that easy. This recipe is going to give you about 4 good servings of whipped cream, about enough to cover a decent sized pie. Also something of note: Another name Whipped Cream can go by is Chantilly Cream or Crème Chantilly. There are a few out there who consider them totally different, with the distinction being that Chantilly Cream is sweetened with sugar and vanilla, when Whipped Cream is not. But those are probably the same people who call a tomato a to-ma-to. So don't listen to them.

  • Ok, first and foremost, whether you’re doing it in a stand mixer, using a hand mixer, or straight up whisking it by hand (old school, son), take the bowl you’re using and the attachment/whisk, and put it in the freezer for like 15 minutes.

There are a few benefits to this: First, the colder the cream, the easier it whips up. If the cream is not cold it’s going to be almost impossible to incorporate the air needed. And second, since it's colder, you're incorporating more air, and more air means you'll create a higher volume of fluffiness. So cold, cold, cold! If you had a walk-in freezer, I’d tell you to whip the cream in there. That’s how serious this is.

  • While your equipment is cooling, you can make sure your powdered sugar  is free of any lumps and clumps (this especially goes for cocoa too if you’re using any). Some would say it's necessary to sift, but I get away with never doing it. If you don't knock out those clumps though, there's a chance you'll have little pockets of powdered sugar in your whipped cream. Not cool, man.

  • Once everything is chill, pour the Heavy Cream into the bowl and start beating/whisking. Don't go away and do something because you'll come back to a bowl full of butter if you don't watch it. Keep an eye on it and watch for the different stages it goes through, not only to know when to continue with the recipe, but because it is cool to watch a liquid turn into a semi-solid before your eyes. You'll notice the cream changing, becoming thicker and thicker, and once it reaches soft peaks, stop whisking.

Soft Peaks is an official term when speaking of whipped cream or egg whites. It's when you can notice the cream taking shape, but not completely holding it yet. And Stiff Peaks is when the cream is sturdy enough to keep a shape. The way to tell the difference is by dipping the whisk into the cream, and pulling it straight up. You'll see a little mountain (get it? Mountain… Peaks? I can't make this stuff up) of fluffy goodness with the tip either flopped over and looking lazy (Soft Peaks), or pointing straight up and holding it's shape (Stiff Peaks).

Soft Peaks

  • At this point, you’ll want to add the Powdered Sugar and Vanilla Extract, also the Cocoa Powder if you’re using it.

Stiff Peaks

You’re adding the sugar, vanilla and possibly cocoa at this point and not in the beginning because just like the cold bowl, you’re letting the cream get to the highest volume it can reach. If you add stuff to the cream before you start whisking, it’s going to be harder to incorporate more air into it. So at this stage, depending on the quality and temperature, the cream should have near doubled in size, which is ideal, so it’s the perfect time to add the flavor with no fear of holding back the fluff.

  • Continue whisking and be vigilant because once you reach soft peaks, it doesn't take much to attain stiff peaks. If you’ve been watching, you will definitely notice the difference. Once you hit stiff peaks you’re done. Confirm it by lifting the whisk up to see your pointy, thick and fluffy awesomeness. You don’t want to go any further because you can easily over beat the cream and break it down until you make butter. So unless you’re running low and love buttered toast in the morning, you’re done.

It can keep in your fridge for a day, maybe even good the next day depending on the conditions. If you see it getting runny or losing its hold, just whisk it again and it should perk right up like new.

There you go, Whipped Cream! Taste it, love it, rub it on your body, I don’t care. Just do us both a favor and don’t buy that ready made stuff anymore. I’m sure you agree how insanely simple this is, not to mention better for you.

Kind of.

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