By Babs Rodriguez
Photos by Meda Kessler
While the time crunch is real, holiday indulgence demands some things be homemade. Whipped cream is one of them. It’s not difficult to make and can be prepared a day in advance. And flavored whipped cream betters any dessert. Even a store-bought pumpkin pie can be elevated with a generous dollop that smacks of maple syrup. Enhanced flavor profiles are limited only by your imagination. Add in everything from liqueurs to fresh fruit juice to cocoa powder. Experimentation is rewarded. For best results, use an ice-cold whisk or beaters and bowl, preferably stainless steel.
Basic Whipped Cream
Makes about 15 dollops
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar or, for a sweeter whipped cream,
use ¼ cup granulated sugar
In a large bowl, whip cream until it begins to stiffen. Beat in vanilla while slowly adding sugar until stiff peaks form. Do not overbeat or you’ll end up with butter.
Lemon Citrus brightens everything. Replace vanilla with 1 to 1½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice or extract and adjust sugar to taste. Add in flecks of grated peel just before stiff peaks form. Generously top cheesecake, fruit or lemon pie.
Mocha This transforms a simple pound cake into a good-enough-for-company dessert or punches up chocolate pie. Hold the vanilla extract and beat in 1½ to 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules with the sugar. Or up the cream by ¼ cup and go with 1 teaspoon vanilla and 2 to 3 teaspoons coffee-flavored liqueur beaten in with the sugar. A spoonful of mocha cream on a cup of espresso redefines a double shot and gives any brownie star power.
Orange and chocolate These are time-honored additions, individually or as a regal pairing. Add ¼ cup heavy cream to our basic recipe. Reduce vanilla to ½ teaspoon and add 1 teaspoon orange extract or 2 to 3 teaspoons orange liqueur, to taste. Add flecks of grated orange peel to the cream just before stiff peaks form and serve atop ladyfingers or fresh fruit. For a choco-orange boost, beat in 2 to 3 teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa powder along with the sugar (adjust sugar by the teaspoon to sweeten to taste). Dollop onto hot cocoa, angel food cake or banana pudding, or use as a filling for puffed pastry.
Brown sugar-cinnamon Substitute ¼ cup packed brown sugar for white sugar and beat it into cream with 1 teaspoon cinnamon. It’s lovely on baked apples, coffeecake or any fruit crumble. You also can spike it with a teaspoon of rum.
Maple This is the season’s best flavor. Hold the vanilla, reduce sugar to 1½ teaspoons powdered sugar and beat in 1 tablespoon real maple syrup. For more spirit, add a teaspoon of brandy extract or the real thing. Enjoy on chocolate cake or waffles.