Learn how to stabilize whipped cream with cream of tartar! One simple ingredient transforms fluffy, delicious whipped cream into something that will last for days.
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Whipped cream is the perfect topping for so many dishes! From ice cream to pancakes, this fluffy, creamy topping can really make a dish special. My family likes to joke that pie is merely a serving vessel for the true star, whipped cream.
I love to make my whipped cream from scratch instead of buying whipped topping from the store. The flavor is so much better as it is just cream, sugar, and vanilla without any extra chemicals.
There is only one problem with homemade whipped cream. It isn't as stable as store-bought. Over time the liquid separates from the cream. This process is called weeping, and it can result in a messy, soggy dessert.
Thankfully, it is an easy fix! By adding just one simple ingredient, we can stabilize our whipped cream where it holds up just as well as store-bought. This ingredient doesn't change the flavor at all! It is delicious and now we have whipped cream that we can use for a variety of things.
Heavy Cream - You may have seen both heavy cream and whipping cream at the store. Heavy cream has more milk fat (36%, instead of the 30% that whipping cream has) so it makes whipped cream that is thicker, richer, and holds its shape longer. Since we are making stabilized whipped cream we want heavy cream.
Sugar - It seems everyone has their favorite sweetener that they like to use for whipped cream. Powdered sugar does help with stabilization, but I prefer the taste of granulated sugar. Use whichever you prefer. It is an equal substitution.
Cream of Tartar - This is the magic ingredient that stabilizes the whipped cream. Cream of tartar keeps the protein molecules in the cream in place, which provides structure to the water and air bubbles in the whipped cream, holding them together instead of allowing the water to seep out.
Other Ways to Stabilize Whipped Cream
If you do not have cream of tartar on hand, try one of these other ways to stabilize whipped cream:
- Cornstarch - 1 tablespoon of cornstarch can be added per cup of cream. This works in a similar way as the cream of tartar does, but it will make the whipped cream just a little bit grainy.
- Gelatin - This is the method many bakers use, as it lasts the longest. It also takes the longest to prepare, which is why it is not my preferred method. I like easy! When using gelatin, measure 1 tablespoon per cup of cream and add it to ¼ cup of cold water. Let it sit for 2 minutes to bloom, then microwave it for 10-15 seconds. Stir, then set aside to cool. Once cool it can be added to softly whipped cream, and then beaten to stiff peaks.
Tip for the Fluffiest Whipped Cream
Heavy cream should be very cold in order to produce the fluffiest whipped cream. To understand why we will take another trip to science class. When cream is cold the fat molecules are solid. The solid fat stays in place while the air is introduced to the cream, allowing the cream to expand.
Pro Tip: In addition to keeping your heavy cream in the refrigerator until you are ready to whip it, you can also freeze your bowl and beaters for 20 minutes, which will help your cream stay cold as it is whipped.
Ways to Use Whipped Cream
- Mississippi Mud Pie
- Ice Cream Sundaes with Homemade Hot Fudge
- Top a Bowl of Tin Roof Ice Cream
- Serve along with your favorite pie, like Bourbon Walnut Pecan Pie
Frequently Asked Questions
Whipped cream should go into the freezer in the shape you want to serve it, as it will not spread or pipe once frozen. Use a piping bag to create dollops of whipped cream that can be frozen and later placed on top of desserts. They will last in the freezer for up to 2 months.
If you would like colored whipped cream, add 2-3 drops of food coloring at the same time as you add your vanilla. Gel coloring can also be used. The whipped cream will be pale in color. Adding too much food coloring would thin the cream and make it runny.
Stabilized Whipped Cream
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- Pour heavy cream into a large mixing bowl. Using the whisk attachment of your stand or hand mixer, beat the whipped cream on medium-high speed until it begins to thicken.
- Add sugar, vanilla extract, and cream of tartar. Increase to high speed, and continue to beat until soft peaks form.
- Use immediately, or cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.