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You might be wondering why it is that I have posted a picture of a whisk when the topic is National Whipped Cream Day. In theory, I suppose I should have posted a picture of mounds of creamy, pillowy, delicious whipped cream, but the thing is, without this whisk, there is no whipped cream – at least not in my house.
I feel rather passionately about whipped cream, making me a bit of a shoe-in (is that how you spell it?) for this post. As I mentioned on National Cream Puff Day, I am a bit of a purist. I like my whipped cream made fresh and preferably not tampered with a great deal. I loathe the idea of whipped cream in a can. Dea and I have debated this at length as she is a proponent of the canned cream. I understand her perspective. Whipped cream in a can is convenient, mess-free and keeps longer than the fresh stuff. There is no labour involved whatsoever and no dishes other than the ones you eat from.
For me, however, it is simply not worth it. The texture of canned cream is all wrong and it is, almost without fail, too sweet and kind of chemical-y tasting. There has been more than one occasion when I have walked out of Dea’s house late at night in search of a container of whipping cream in order to service whatever dessert we are having; this despite the fact that there is a perfectly useful can of whipped cream already in her fridge. Reading this you are probably in agreement with Dea and whichever other house guests have been present on such occasions – yes, I am a little nutty. I won’t deny it.
I used to work in a restaurant that used whipped cream in a variety of things, including special coffees and most all the desserts. We used those whipped cream canisters that use those little Whip-It cartridges. We would pour a litre of whipping cream into the canister and then add just one small packet of sugar before screwing on the top and putting in the cartridge. This is when I came to the understanding that whipped cream is really just better on its own. A tiny bit of sugar – 1 teaspoon to an entire litre – is really more than enough to flavour it. You might add a smidgen, just a smidgen, of vanilla too. But whipped cream is sublimely decadent and is usually paired with desserts that are verging on the obscene when it comes to sweetness. You need a delicate touch to balance that out.
I do not use Whip-It cartridges at home. Whipped cream that is produced via the instant injection of nitrous oxide bubbles is unstable and a little light in texture. It won’t hold it’s “whip”, so to speak, and reverts to liquid form too quickly for my tastes – particularly when served over a hot food, beverage or … I leave it to your imagination.
I also don’t use a power mixer to make my whipped cream. Why? Because when I use my magical whisk, I am faster and less messy than any electric beater. I recently confirmed this at Christmas dinner at my parents’ house where I used their electric mixer and managed to spray the entire kitchen, top to bottom, with little white droplets of cream; and it took ages for the cream to thicken.
The trick to good and fast whipped cream is to use the freshest whipping cream and to chill the cream and the stainless steel mixing bowl in the freezer for 5 – 10 minutes before whipping it. And you have to have the right whisk. Note the large tines of my whisk and how there are multiple layers of tines set in different directions. This whisk aerates the cream so fast you hardly have time to think about it before you’d better stop or you’re making butter.
I would be remiss if I did not note the fact that whipped cream and its accoutrements have and are used for a variety of illicit and naughty purposes. The notion of whipped cream as sex toy is so common as to be cliché, and surely more than one high school student has enjoyed experimenting with a few Whip-Its from time to time (if you didn’t know, Whip-Its are canisters of nitrous oxide, a.k.a. Laughing Gas). But these things simply add to the Whipped Cream Mystique, the aura of the forbidden, the decadent, and yes, the divine.
Whipped cream is more than just a garnish. Indeed, it can be a dessert in itself (as witnessed at Christmas dinner this year when my sister-in-law, N, a woman after my own heart, chose to forego the pumpkin pie and simply have a bowlful of whipped cream for dessert). It is deceptively light and utterly delicious and I can eat dangerous amounts of the stuff.
Whipped cream is one of the top 5 reasons I took up triathlon.