activity

Ice cream sundae? Strawberry shortcake? Pumpkin pie? A cloud of whipped cream is the perfect topping for just about any dessert. Discover the secret to making the lightest, fluffiest whipped cream with this simple experiment.

safety
  • Uses the microwave
difficulty
  • Intermediate
time
  • 30 minutes
yield
  • Makes about 2 cups whipped cream

Prepare Ingredients

½ cup plus ½ cup
cold heavy cream, measured separately
1½ teaspoons plus 1½ teaspoons
sugar, measured separately
½ teaspoon plus ½ teaspoon
vanilla extract, measured separately

Gather Cooking Equipment

Masking or painter’s tape
Marker or pen
2
liquid measuring cups or equal-size clear glasses
Liquid measuring cup
Instant-read thermometer (optional)
2
medium bowls
Electric mixer
Rubber spatula
2 per person
spoons
1
 

What do you put whipped cream on? Ice cream sundaes? Fresh fruit? Strawberry shortcakes? Homemade whipped cream has just 3 ingredients and takes only 5 minutes to make—and it tastes way better than the store-bought kind. But how do you make sure your whipped cream is as light and fluffy as possible?

A lot of it has to do with the temperature of the star ingredient, heavy cream. Which do you think will make fluffier whipped cream, cold heavy cream or room-temperature heavy cream? Make a prediction!

 
2
 

Use masking or painter’s tape and a marker or pen to label 1 liquid measuring cup or clear glass “Room Temperature” and the other “Cold.” After you make your 2 batches of whipped cream, you will put them into these containers to see which one is fluffier (has more volume).

 
3
 
½ cup
cold heavy cream

Measure ½ cup cold heavy cream, straight from the refrigerator. If you have an instant-read thermometer, take the temperature of the heavy cream—it should be about 40 degrees. Pour the cold heavy cream into 1 medium bowl.

Cold heavy cream, straight from the refrigerator, should be about 40 degrees.

 
4
 
1½ teaspoons
sugar
½ teaspoon
vanilla extract

Add the sugar and vanilla to the bowl with the cold heavy cream. Use an electric mixer on medium-low speed to whip the cream for about 1 minute. Increase the speed to high and whip until the cream is smooth and thick, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and lift the beaters out of the cream. If the whipped cream clings to the beaters and makes soft peaks that stand up on their own, you’re done! If not, keep beating and check again in 30 seconds.

Whipping Cold Heavy Cream

Not ready yet!

Soft peaks on the ends of the beaters—the whipped cream is done.

 
5
 

Use a rubber spatula to gently scoop the whipped cream into the clear glass or liquid measuring cup labeled “Cold.” Use the spatula to gently smooth out the top. Set the glass aside.

Adding cold whipped cream to glass

 
6
 

Clean your rubber spatula and beaters before you whip the second batch of heavy cream.

 
7
 
½ cup
cold heavy cream

Measure the remaining ½ cup heavy cream into a liquid measuring cup. Place the liquid measuring cup in the microwave. Heat the heavy cream in the microwave on 50 percent power in 10-second increments for about 20 seconds, or until the cream registers about 70 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. (If you don’t have an instant-read thermometer, the heavy cream should feel neutral to the touch, neither warm nor cold.)

Room-temperature heavy cream should be about 70 degrees.

 
8
 
1½ teaspoons
sugar
½ teaspoon
vanilla extract

In a clean medium bowl, combine the room-temperature heavy cream, the remaining sugar, and the remaining vanilla. Use an electric mixer on medium-low speed to whip the cream for about 1 minute. Increase the speed to high and whip until the cream is smooth and thick, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and lift the beaters out of the cream. If the whipped cream clings to the beaters and makes soft peaks that stand up on their own, you’re done! If not, keep beating and check again in 30 seconds.

Whipping Room Temp Cream 2-Up

Add the room-temperature heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla to a medium bowl.

Look for soft peaks like these.

 
9
 

Use a rubber spatula to gently scoop the whipped cream into the clear glass or liquid measuring cup labeled “Room Temperature.” Use the spatula to gently smooth out the top.

Scooping Room Temp Whipped Cream 2-Up

 
10
 

Compare your 2 batches of whipped cream:

  • Which one fills up more of the container, the whipped cream made from cold heavy cream or the whipped cream made from room-temperature heavy cream?
  • Do your results match your prediction?
 
11
 

Time for a taste test! Be sure to use a clean spoon for each taste.

  • Do the 2 batches of whipped cream taste any different?
  • Are their textures different? How so?
 
12
 

Use your whipped cream to top your favorite desserts, or dollop it on top of fresh fruit. If you’d like, you can combine your 2 batches of whipped cream, or you can use only your favorite one.