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Stabilizing Whipped Cream

By Cook's Illustrated Published March 2014

Is there a way to keep whipped cream from weeping if you want to make it ahead of time?

Unlike other dessert toppings and frostings, whipped cream doesn’t keep well if made in advance. After a few hours it begins to weep out liquid and eventually loses the air bubbles that have been whipped into it. In the past, we’ve held whipped cream in a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl for up to 8 hours. To see if we could stabilize the topping to avoid the strainer setup and hold it even longer, we tried a slew of additives we’d heard might help: marshmallow crème, xanthan gum, cream of tartar, confectioners’ sugar, nonfat dry milk powder, instant dry vanilla pudding mix, gelatin, and buckwheat flour. Some ingredients, like cream of tartar, worked well but added unwanted flavors. Others, like xanthan gum, made the whipped topping more dense and reminiscent of sour cream. The best of the bunch proved to be gelatin, which we first heated in a bit of water to liquefy it and ensure even distribution in the cold cream. It kept liquid from weeping for a full day, contributed no additional flavors, and didn’t noticeably change the texture of the whipped cream.

To make 3 cups of whipped cream in advance, sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of unflavored powdered gelatin over 1 1/2 tablespoons of water in a microwave-safe bowl and let it stand for 3 minutes. Microwave the mixture in 5-second increments until the gelatin is dissolved and liquefied. Whip 1 1/2 cups of chilled heavy cream (along with 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, if desired) in a stand mixer, staying on low speed until small bubbles form and then increasing the speed to medium. When the beaters begin to leave a trail in the cream, slowly pour in the gelatin mixture and then increase the speed to high and continue to beat until soft peaks form. If well covered, the whipped cream will retain its moisture and airiness for up to 24 hours.

DEFLATED: After 2 to 3 hours, liquid (and air) escapes from whipped cream.

FULL OF AIR: A little gelatin whipped with the dairy keeps things stable for 24 hours.