In her biweekly column, Kitchen Basics, Susan Pachikara of Cardamom Kitchen demystifies essential cooking skills with step-by-step instructions and her own handsome photos. Whether she's showing us how much brown sugar we're meant to "pack"(or is it cram?) into measuring cups or how to detect when our onions are properly caramelized, Susan is the nonna we never had -- until now. Now, go on and get cozy under her wing.
This week, Susan demonstrates how to make whipped cream at home.
On a warm summer 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 don’t care for sci-fi-ish sounding ingredients like sorbitan, polysorbate 60, monostearate, or diglycerides, it’s best to whip the cream yourself. 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.
Are you new to cooking? Tell me what skills you'd like to learn and your idea could be featured in an upcoming post!
Want more basic tips from Susan? Check out her previous post: Kitchen Basics: Chile Peppers.
All photos by Susan Pachikara.
Susan writes the blog Cardamom Kitchen to share her culinary experiences as an Indian-American rooted in the Midwest.