Monday, August 23, 2010

Back to Basics: Whipping Cream

I like to consider myself a pretty good cook.  I've clocked many, many hours in the kitchen, my friends and family are usually oooing and ahhing over the dishes that I serve them, and even when I make mistakes, those mess-ups are acts of passion.

So, yes, in my mind, I'm 'pretty good'.  But I want to be better.  I want to be a great cook.  I want ingredients to form into the most delicious meals possible when my creative little hands get hold of them.  I want mouths to constantly be watering and tummies to rumble with anticipation when they know that their meal is coming to them courtesy of moi.  I know I'm being a little silly and dramatic, but these are the thoughts that I have when I'm considering my prowess in the kitchen.

What I'm realizing more and more is that my knowledge is lacking in some of the most fundamental methods of cooking.  I recently picked up this book from the library that's sort of an encyclopedia of different techniques with pictures and tips on how to correct mistakes and such.  Flipping through the thick volume, it quickly became clear that no matter how good I think I am, I don't know squat about basic culinary technique.

Time to start learning.

I figured dessert was the logical place to begin (so I could reward my learning with sweets, of course), so I whipped up some cream (whipped it real good).

I purchased heavy cream from a local dairy called Golden Glen Creamery in Skagit Valley, WA.  They sell amazing products at both my local farmers market and some health food stores around Seattle.  Their cattle are hormone free and mostly grass-fed.  As their website states, they use antibiotics ONLY when an animal has a treatable illness, and that animal is taken out of the 'milk stream' until its milk is tested free of antibiotics.  Not only that, but their milks are not homogenized (so there's a beautiful layer of cream on top), minimally pasteurized, and they come in old-timey glass bottles that can be returned for a $1 deposit refund. Oh, and they make awesome cheeses and butter, too.

I heart Golden Glen Creamery <3<3<3

Now on to the whipped cream.

It's actually quite an easy thing to accomplish.  Especially if you have an electric mixer.  I have no such technologically advanced device, so a whisk and some elbow grease it was for me.  I'll tell you that this 'by hand' method is not for the weak of will.  You must want the whipped cream (and not mind feeling it in your forearm).

Whipped Cream
makes about 2 cups

1 C. heavy cream, very cold* (avoid 'ultra-pasteurized')
1-2 T. sugar (brown, granulated, powdered - they all work)
1-2 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)

*Apparently cold cream is analogous with success in the world of whipping.

Pour the very cold heavy cream into a glass or metal mixing bowl (some recipes say to chill the bowl prior to whipping to aid the process - I did not).  Using a large whisk, begin to whip the cream using large circular motions to incorporate the most air possible.

After a few minutes the cream will begin to thicken.  Add the sugar and continue to whip.

After a few more minutes the cream will begin to billow and expand in volume.  Add the vanilla if using and keep whisking!

(Are you feeling it yet? Don't worry, you're getting closer! Keep whisking!)

When the cream begins to form soft or more firm peaks (depending on desired consistency) you have achieved your goal!  Here's a picture of how my whipped cream looked on the whisk when I was through.

Additional advice:
  • Be careful not to over-whip the cream.  It will separate and become gritty.
  • Refrigerate immediately!!
  • Whipped cream is best when used within several hours of creation.  It will lose volume when left in the fridge, but can be re-whipped (although not with the same results as the initial whipping)
Stay tuned for the ultra-tasty recipe that I used this whipped cream for.  It involves peaches and booze - two summertime faves :)

1 comment:

  1. that's so funny, because the first time i tried to make my own whipping cream, i did it by hand too. and yes, i agree. you MUST want it that bad.

    i find that popping the bowl and the whisk in the freezer for a few mins was good enough. if you are using metal, it's even quicker.

    i like your pics too :)


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