Whipping your own cream is not a hard task, but it does require a certain amount of equipment, and that equipment requires washing, which makes whipping cream mildly inconvenient in the middle of the day or after a big dinner — the two moments I happen to crave espresso con panna (espresso topped with whipped cream).
Espresso con panna is a very simple beverage, but one that feels much more indulgent than its two ingredients. It’s like an affogato, but lighter, easier, and breezier. You pull a shot (or two) of espresso, then hit it with a small mountain of whipped cream. You now have a fancy little treat to perk up your afternoon, or a low-key dessert drink to enjoy at the end of a lovely meal.
If you feel a little bit of anti-canister sentiment rising in your chest, tell it to get out of here! There are a lot of perfectly delightful-tasting canned whipped creams out there. (Just look for one that lists “cream” as the first ingredient.) The aerated cream that comes out of these cans looks pretty, which ups the afternoon whimsy factor, and it keeps in the fridge for a very long time. (My current can doesn’t expire until January 2022.)
Keeping a can of whipped cream — or, if you’re avoiding dairy, whipped topping — in the fridge is a small act of self-indulgence, if not outright self-care. It lets me satisfy my craving for something sweet and caffeinated, and it creates a nice little pause in a hectic day. (Plus I like to give a little bit to my dog, as a treat.)
If you don’t have a way to make espresso at home, just brew some really strong coffee. The point is to combine something warm and caffeinated with something sweet. (Brewed too much coffee? It’s not a problem. Save the extra and use it to make a lazy affogato.)