A perfect swirl of whipped cream can be the crowning gem atop your dessert—if you have a good cream whipper.
Published Dec. 1, 2016.
There are few desserts that aren’t improved by a swirl of fresh whipped cream. But if you want to make your own, you have to haul out a mixer or, worse, whisk until your arm goes numb. Luckily, there is an easier way to make homemade whipped cream: Use a cream whipper, a pressurized canister powered by nitrous oxide. You simply fill the canister with heavy cream, twist on a single-use nitrous oxide charger (sold separately for about $0.50 a pop), shake to distribute the gas, and press a lever to pipe out swirls and rosettes. Beauty doesn’t come cheap, however—many cream whippers retail for upwards of $100.00. Are cream whippers worth the expense?
Eager to find out, we rounded up nine cream whippers, priced from about $30.00 to about $115.00, and used each to pipe a pint’s worth of 2-inch whipped cream rosettes using every included decorating tip. We also had five testers—men and women, lefties and righties, pros and novices—use and evaluate each whipper. We used branded chargers if a product’s manual specified to do so; otherwise, we stuck with generic chargers.
Testers immediately zeroed in on the appearance of the whipped cream. Only a few whippers made swirls that were uniform, fluffy, and detailed; most produced misshapen, gloppy rosettes that looked jagged, uneven, and almost curdled. At first we suspected that the decorating tips were the culprit. Each whipper came with between one and three (most had three) tips of varying widths for producing swirls of different designs. While a few models had tips with narrow openings that clogged and sputtered when we used them, most had tips that appeared so similar in shape and size that they could almost be interchangeable.
Instead, we found that the unattractive, blobby rosettes were a result of testers having trouble gripping the canisters and using the dispensing mechanisms. Testers of all sizes preferred shorter canisters, which were easier to move and angle when dispensing the cream. Our favorite whippers were 7.5 and 8.3 inches from top to bottom—as much as 2 inches shorter than some of the more unwieldy canisters.
Testers also disliked whippers with levers that were difficult to push or hard to reach. One model with a button instead of a lever was immediately singled out as hard to control. To use the rest of the whippers, you wrap your hand around the head of the canister and press a lever with your fingers to dispense the cream. The distance of this grip ranged from 3.6 to 4.2 inches, depending on the whipper. And while ½ inch might seem insignificant, for some testers it made the difference between complete control and grasping by their fingertips. Testers struggled to...
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