Discover the secret to making the lightest, fluffiest whipped cream in this airy experiment.
Make a prediction: Which do you think will make fluffier whipped cream, cold heavy cream or room-temperature heavy cream? Why do you think so?
Use rubber spatula to gently scoop whipped cream into glass labeled “Cold.” Clean rubber spatula and beaters.
Combine room-temperature cream, remaining 1½ teaspoons sugar, and remaining ½ teaspoon vanilla in medium bowl. Whip cream, following directions in step 3. (It’s possible that the room‑temperature heavy cream will not reach soft peaks, especially if you are using pasteurized heavy cream instead of ultra-pasteurized heavy cream. If you’ve whipped the cream for 2½ minutes and it still has not reached soft peaks, stop and proceed with step 7.)
Observe your results: Compare your 2 batches of whipped cream: Which has more volume (fills up more of the glass), the whipped cream made from cold heavy cream or the whipped cream made from room-temperature heavy cream? Which batch looks lighter and fluffier?
Eat your experiment: Spoon one or both batches of whipped cream on fresh berries, an ice cream sundae, our Peach Shortcakes, or your favorite dessert.
(Don’t read until you’ve finished the experiment!)
When we tried this experiment in the Recipe Lab, the whipped cream made from cold heavy cream was light and fluffy and had nearly twice the volume of the whipped cream made from room-temperature cream. Did your experiment turn out the same way?
The only difference between liquid heavy cream and whipped heavy cream is air (the sugar and vanilla just add flavor). Whipping heavy cream adds air bubbles, which the heavy cream’s fat holds in place. And more bubbles equal fluffier whipped cream.
Here’s where temperature comes in: As the fat in heavy cream warms up, say from refrigerator temperature (about 40 degrees) to room temperature (about 70 degrees), it gets softer. Think about gently squeezing a stick of butter straight from the fridge versus one you’ve left on the counter for a couple hours. The room-temperature butter is softer and easier to squeeze, while the cold butter is firmer and holds its shape.
The warmer, softer fat in the room-temperature heavy cream can’t support the air bubbles very well, so they start to collapse—the room-temperature whipped cream won’t have much volume. The fat in the cold heavy cream is firmer and more solid, so it can support more trapped air bubbles—this makes for fluffier whipped cream with more volume.
Follow these tips and you’ll whip up perfectly fluffy, airy whipped cream every time:
Use Only Heavy Cream or Whipping Cream
Dairy products such as half-and-half and light cream don’t contain enough fat to support air bubbles—they won’t turn into whipped cream.
Don’t Make It Too Far in Advance
It’s best to make whipped cream within a few hours of when you want to use it—after that it will start to leak liquid and lose its air bubbles (no!). And always store whipped cream in the refrigerator.