When whipping cream, recipes often call for one of two stages of fluffiness. Whipped cream beat to soft peaks. And whipped cream beat to stiff peaks. Here’s a visual guide and some tips to help you get to correct whipped cream stage.
Whipping Cream Tips:
1. You can whip the cream in a stand mixer, using a hand blender, or by hand using a whisk. For smaller amounts it is fairly quick to just whip by hand, reducing your cleanup to just a bowl and a whisk. If using a stand mixer and you don’t have a bowl splatter guard, wrap a piece of plastic wrap between the bowl and stand mixer head to contain the cream flings. Or start at a slower speed until it begins to thicken and then feel free to push the rpms.
2. Use heavy whipping cream. The higher the fat content, the better the whipped cream will hold firm. Or even follow the lead of the great chef Nancy Silverton and add some creme fraiche to the whipping cream.
3. Chill the cream, bowls, beaters, and or whisks. Usually we don’t bother chilling everything, but at least make sure the cream is nice and cold. However on those hot kitchen days, having everything chilled will make the whipping easier. If the cream gets too warm you may have issues getting it to hold up.
4. Add the flavorings (sugar, vanilla, etc…) towards the end of whipping the cream to maximize the volume.
5. Buy delicious cream. Not all creams taste the same. Try whipping creams from different dairies to find the one you love the flavor the most.
6. Watch for changes in stages closely. Especially with smaller volumes of cream, it will change form soft peaks, to stiff peaks, to over whipped fairly quickly. Even when whipping using a stand mixer, we like to finish to the final consistency by hand for better control. If piping the cream, whip just slightly under the stiffness you want since the action of piping the cream will actually whip it a touch more.
7. If you over whip the cream by a little bit (it just starts to get grainy) stir in more cold cream (a couple tablespoons – 1/4 cups worth) with a spatula. However if you’ve over whipped it too much, you might as well keep whipping a make some butter. There is no saving it for whipped cream at this point.
Whipped Cream Stages
1. No Peaks. After a couple minutes, the cream will have gone from runny and having big bubbles to thickening a bit and becoming smooth. At this point if you lift the whisk out of the cream it will still be too liquidy to hold its shape.
2. Soft Peaks. After lifting the whisk out the cream will hold its lines but the top peaks will be soft and after a second or two will fall back on itself.
3. Stiff Peaks. Now after lifting out the whisk, the peaks will hold firm.
4. Over Whipped. If you whip the cream to much it will start to break down and become grainy. The fats and liquids are now separating. If it is just starting to happen you can save it (see Whipping Cream Tips #7), otherwise you might as well keep going a make some butter. Delicious cream it a too good to waste.
This is a good, basic homemade whipped cream. It is easily scalable to you needs. The cream isn't sweetened too much, allow the flavor the the cream to be enjoyed, but feel free to sweeten to taste.
- 1 cup (240ml) cold heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon confectioners sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Combine the whipping cream, confectioners sugar, and vanilla in a high-sided bowl or mixer. Whisk to soft peaks.
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.