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Kitchen Basics: Whipped Cream

Susan writes the blog Cardamom Kitchen to share her culinary experiences as an Indian-American rooted in the Midwest. Luckily she's also sharing her experiences with Whole Story readers by demystifing essential cooking skills with step-by-step instructions and her own handsome photos.

On a cozy autumn day, there’s nothing like a bowl of fresh fruit topped with a dollop of chilled whipped cream (unless, of course, the fruit is buried under a layer of silky pudding or balanced on top of a soft-crumbed cupcake). If you've never made whipped cream before, now is the time to try. Believe me, it is one of the simplest things you’ll ever do.

Equipment You'll Need

You’ll need a bowl (I use an all-purpose steel one) and a beater of some sort -- a whisk, hand mixer, or stand mixer will do. I learned from my Auntie Donna that the trick is to make sure that everything -- the whipped cream, the bowl, the beaters or whisk -- is chilled in the refrigerator before you begin. The cream will splash about for the first few minutes and eventually double in size. To avoid a mess, be sure to use a large bowl with fairly steep sides.

How to Make Homemade Whipped Cream

Put the bowl and beaters (or whisk) in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes. Make sure the cream is well chilled, too. Remove the cream and equipment from the refrigerator. Pour the whipped cream in the bowl. 

If you want sweetened whipped cream, pour in some sugar, honey, agave, or maple syrup. I like to add a tablespoon and a half of sugar per cup of heavy cream. 

Starting on low speed, beat the cream with the hand mixer, stand mixer, or whisk.

As it begins to thicken, increase the speed to medium. (If using a whisk, you can keep an even pace throughout -- as fast as you feel comfortable without wearing yourself out!)

Continue to beat the cream until it forms soft peaks. Be careful not to overbeat it, as it will become grainy and eventually separate. (Keep whipping past the grainy stage and you'll end up with homemade butter!)

Perfectly whipped cream on the left; grainy, over-whipped cream on the right

For a little more oomph, gently stir in one teaspoon of vanilla, almond or mint extract, or whatever flavoring you fancy. (For very intense flavorings, start with a half teaspoon and add more to taste.)

Plop, pipe, or spread the whipped cream on your favorite dessert. 

I’d love to see your tips for making and flavoring whipped cream! Share them with your fellow cooks in the comments section below.