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Don't Be Scared, It's Just Whipped Cream (Barely Even A Recipe)

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Flickr: rarye
Flickr: rarye

In our last installment of "Don't Be Scared, It's Just ____," we gave you a sixty second recipe for cheater's Hollandaise. If you can handle one of the most notoriously finicky sauces on earth, you can absolutely handle our topic for today's edition.

Think of some of the most comforting desserts, hot chocolates and sundaes you've ever had. They all have one thing in common: whipped cream, and we're certain it didn't come out of a can. We have the same soft spot that some of you might have for the super sweet whipped cream you can squirt out of an aerosol can. But it's not the real thing and it will never be as good. Plus, once you've mastered making your own whipped cream, you can flavor it any way you please. Want chocolate whipped cream? Add a little cocoa powder. Vanilla? Lavender? Honey? The possibilites are, as they so frequently are when it comes to food, totally endless. But you have to stop freaking out about finding the right whipped cream recipe. And that's what we're here to work out for you today.

Know what you need to make whipped cream? Cream, guys. Sugar is optional! Vanilla is optional! This is a one-ingredient recipe! You can do this by hand, or with a rotary beater, but if you have a stand mixer or an electric mixer, it will be a lot faster and a lot less of a workout.

A few hints to make your whipped cream experience go, er, smoothly:

  • Put your mixing bowl in the freezer for a while before you start whipping. Heat is the enemy of whipped cream, and when you whip cream, you create friction. Having a cold bowl (and even a cold mixing whisk if you want), will ensure that you get light, fluffy cream in no time.
  • Don't add sugar or flavoring too early. If you want to add superfine sugar, honey, vanilla, cocoa powder, etc., wait until you've whipped the cream a bit and it starts to thicken. How much? There is no exact science, just take a deep breath and ask yourself if it's thicker than it was when you started. Also, regular sugar can weigh down your whipped cream and make it harder to whip. The solution: use powdered sugar!
  • Once your cream starts to thicken enough that you see your mixing device leaving distinct trails along the way, slow it down a bit and play close attention. There are only two ways to mess up whipped cream: by mixing too little, or too much. Too little and it will be watery. Too much, and you'll be on your way to butter.
  • Whip your cream until it holds soft peaks. That means, when you lift your mixing utensil out of the cream, you should be able to gently dollop it from your whisk. Not too runny, not too stiff.

For example: this whipped cream is not quite whipped enough:
underwhipped cream

This whipped cream has gone WAY TOO FAR. You have whipped this cream to death:
overwhipped cream

This whipped cream is just right! (You go can a little further if you want to pipe it out of a pastry bag and make shapes!)

whipped cream

Congratulations! You've just made homemade whipped cream and are well on your way to being scared of one less thing in the kitchen. Oh, and best of all, you've got some whipped cream to use up.

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