For The Best Whipped Cream, Stop Using Whipping Cream

Whipped cream is light, fluffy, and essential to so many recipes. You can top a pie or hot chocolate with a dollop of whipped cream. It's a crucial component in parfaits and trifles. It's even delicious as an ingredient to make light and fluffy biscuits, according to The Southern Lady Cooks.

Whipped cream is very easy to make, as long as you follow a few rules. It should be cold, per America's Test Kitchen. You can whip the cream with a stand mixer, a hand mixer, a wire whisk, a blender, or food processor, according to Jessica Gavin. You can even use a mason jar or immersion blender. And don't overwhip, or the cream can start turning into butter.

Oh, and there's a certain type of cream you should buy.

What's that? In the supermarket, there are shelves and shelves of cream: light cream, half-and-half, whipping cream, and heavy cream. While it may be obvious that light cream and half-and-half are nonstarters, is there a difference between whipping cream and heavy cream? Is one a better choice?

What a good question.

Heavy cream vs. whipping cream

All cream is high in fat. In fact, cream is made of fat globules suspended in liquid (with a bit of sugar and protein), according to BakerPedia. And that fat is what makes whipped cream possible and turns the liquid into an airy foam. 

The foam is formed when air is forced into the cream, via one of the methods discussed above. As the cream is whipped, the fat molecules in the liquid are disrupted, forcing the components apart, per Food Retro. Since one end of one of those components called triglycerides is attracted to water, and the other end shuns water, they start to congregate around the air bubbles. Eventually, enough fat particles surround the air bubbles in a stable matrix, and the cream thickens. 

And logically enough, the higher the fat content, the more stable the matrix. That's why half-and-half, with 10.5% to 18% fat, and light cream, which is only 18% to 30% fat, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, will never whip to soft or stiff peaks. Here's what you probably don't know: whipping cream has between 30% to 36% fat. And heavy cream has at least 36% milk fat. That extra bit of fat means that heavy cream can form a denser foam and takes less time to whip, according to Science Direct.

The best whipped cream

To make the best light and fluffy whipped cream, the cream should be cold, right out of the fridge. So should the bowl and the beaters or whisk you are using to make it, according to Sally's Baking Addiction. To stabilize the foam, you can add some powdered sugar, which contains cornstarch, or use some unflavored gelatin, according to Shugary Sweets. You can even add some sour cream. If you aren't going to use it right away, refrigerate it. You can even put dollops of whipped cream on waxed paper and freeze it for later use, according to Robust Recipes.

If you are substituting your own homemade whipped cream for whipped topping, there are three cups of the fake whipped cream in every eight ounce carton, per Alexa Answers. 

Then use that whipped cream to top any number of delicious desserts, like a pumpkin pie or decadent chocolate pecan pie, or make nectarine and berry parfaits, churro lemon cream sandwiches, or confetti party roll cake.