Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Easiest Stabilized Whipped Cream

Whipped cream is as easy to make as it is to ruin. What could possibly go wrong with a recipe that has 1 ingredient and take about 1 minutes of work? If you over-beat it by as much as 5 seconds, it can become grainy and there is no going back. If you let it sit in the fridge longer than a couple of hours, it will become runny. 

The remedy for over-whipped cream is yet to be found, but there is a solution for the gradual thinning out.  For years I've been stabilizing whipped cream with gelatin when using it for icing, but it's a finicky procedure and a pain if you just need a bit of whipped cream as a topping. Gelatin poses another little issue. Gelatin is a meat product, and as I was testing diplomat cream recipes for my upcoming Pate a Choux class, I wanted to find a way to do without gelatin so that my vegetarian students wouldn't miss out. I've tried all sorts of tricks with variable level of success. But none were as tasty or as easy as Nancy Silverton's technique of adding a small dollop of creme fraiche.

The first benefit of this little addition is that cream became easier to thicken without over-whipping.  Most professionals use extra heavy cream.  The higher fat content helps the cream thicken before it over-whips giving you a larger margin of error.  Unfortunately, I can't find extra heavy cream in stores.  I read an explanation of this technique saying that creme fraiche helps because of its higher fat content.  This might be true, but I couldn't find a way to verify that since the differences are slight and nutritional information on the packages is rounded.  I did however notice that my cream wasn't over-whipping in a split second, which made me happy.  The added tang from creme fraiche is delightful.  It's actually a tastier whipped cream!  And after 24 hours in the fridge, it didn't thin out one bit.  It might have lasted longer, but we ate it all.

For icing a cake, I would still use the gelatin or Rose Levy Beranbaum's corn starch technique, to ensure your icing won't start running at room temperature.  But for most other purposes, this whipped cream is my go to recipe.

Creme-Fraiche-Stabilized Whipped Cream

1 cup cold heavy cream
1/4 cup cold creme fraiche

Chill the bowl and whisk style beater in the fridge for at least 15 min.  Everything needs to be very cold. Warm cream doesn't whip.

For 1 cup or less, I prefer to use the whisk attachment of my immersion blender or some other hand mixer since the KitchenAid stand mixer is not great with small quantities of whipped cream.

Combine heavy cream and creme fraiche in a cold bowl and beat on low speed until small bubbles form on the surface.  Gradually increase speed to high and beat until the cream thickens and the whisk leaves trails in it.  Err on the side of softer rather than firmer cream.  Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula to redistributed the cream and make sure the bottom of the bowl is not runny.  If the cream is too runny, finish beating it on medium-low speed.

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