The good news is that with the right technique, whipping cream by hand can be remarkably quick and easy. Follow our guidelines, and you may decide to take the manual route more often.
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1. Choose a really big bowl
Use a much bigger bowl than you think you’ll need (at least eight times the volume of the unwhipped cream); this will give you the freedom to whisk with abandon and contain splashing. Choose stainless steel or glass, which stay colder than plastic does.
2. Make sure both cream and bowl are thoroughly cold
Speaking of cold, the colder the cream, the faster it whips. It also produces more volume when cold, as evidenced by this testing. But don’t just chill the cream—chill the bowl too. Keep it in the freezer until it’s thoroughly cold before whisking. (If the bowl doesn’t fit, chill it in the fridge.)
3. Whisk side to side
Whisking from side to side is easier to execute quickly and aggressively than stirring or beating. It’s also more effective because it causes more of what scientists call shear force to be applied to the liquid, which reduces how long it takes to whip cream by hand.
4. Use your sink
Transfer your bowl/cream/whisk setup to the sink; it’s less strenuous to whisk at this lower angle, and the sides of the sink will catch any errant drops.
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How to Flavor Your Hand-Whipped Cream
Whether you’re whipping cream by hand or with a machine, it's easy to whisk in a small amount of extract, liqueur, or spices to add interest to the topping. But for more unusual flavorings, such as from tea leaves, citrus zest, or minced herbs, you need to infuse their flavorings into the cream.
Heating the cream with the flavoring will extract the most flavor, but the strained cream won’t whip to the proper volume unless it’s chilled long enough for most of its fat to resolidify. To shorten the chilling time, we found we could infuse just ¼ cup of the cream. Once it was thoroughly cold, we combined it with the plain cream and whipped the entire amount.
How to Infuse Flavor into 2 Cups of Whipped Cream
- Heat ¼ cup heavy cream to 125° over medium heat.
- Off heat, add flavoring.
- Steep for 10 minutes, then strain.
- Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (the colder the better).
- Whip ¾ cup heavy cream until starting to thicken. Add infused cream and sugar to taste; whip to soft peaks.