Four Ways to Give Your Whipped Cream a Sophisticated Edge

Four Ways to Give Your Whipped Cream a Sophisticated Edge
Photo: Claire Lower

Heavy whipping cream is a fantastic liquid. Even un-whipped, it can add cold, creamy luxury to a bowl of berries or seasonal stone fruit, and whipping only heightens the experience. But aerating cream isn’t the only thing you can do make it feel luxurious. You can take it even further with a few choice, unexpected add-ins.

I’m not talking about extracts. Though those certainly would work, they’re a bit obvious; you don’t need me to tell you lemon extract will make your whipped cream taste lemon-y. These additions range from tart to slightly boozy, toasty, and even a little savoury. All are guaranteed to impress.

Umeboshi vinegar

This is one of my top 10 vinegars, even though it isn’t a “true” vinegar, but the liquid leftover after curing Japanese plums. It’s salty and tart and a tad funky, with hints of fermented stone fruit. It plays exceptionally well with rich, fatty cream:

You can use it as a seasoning (kind of like you would soy sauce), and stir it into summer beverages, but it is shockingly fun in whipped cream. The salty, sour qualities of the vinegar play exceptionally well with the fatty whipped cream, making the topping even more irresistible. Add sugar and you get sweet, creamy, salty, and sour in one bite.

Whip your cream how you usually would, then gently fold in the umeboshi vinegar. Start with a teaspoon per cup of (un-whipped) cream, adding more to taste.

Cocktail bitters

Bitters are the spice rack of the bar cart, but you can use the super concentrated liquids like you would any other extract:

Flavour-wise, adding bitters to your cream won’t make it taste strongly of something else, but it will make it taste better, more nuanced, and more sophisticated. Plain Angostura will serve you fine, but I think orange bitters would be particularly nice, and this could be a good use for any “artisanal” flavored bitters sets you were gifted at a work gift exchange.

Cocktail bitters are so intense, you only need a few drops, so you don’t have to worry about the alcohol interfering with the structural integrity of the cream. Dash it in, whip it up, and give it a taste. (If you want more sophisticated flavour, you can always fold in a little more.)

Herbs (and salt)

Savoury whipped cream doesn’t get much play, but it should. Herb-infused whipped cream adds rich decadence to sweet and savoury dishes, no need for additional sugar:

Have you ever wanted to add a hit of pure creamy goodness to a dish, but also didn’t want to get your food wet? Savoury whipped cream is the answer. To open up your mind to the possibilities, just think of it like a more restrained creme fraiche, a whisper of burrata, or a more fun version of (boring) liquid cream, which is literally what it is. Dollop it into bowls of soup, onto cured fish canapés, and atop summery tomato salads (or just dip a cherry tomato in it).

Check out the full recipe here, but it’s really just a matter of letting some roughly chopped herbs steep in cold cream overnight, then whipping with salt. In addition to all the savoury applications, I also think it would be good on a simple shortbread biscuit or bougie olive oil ice cream.

Malted milk powder

This last little addition comes from the most recent print edition of Cook’s Illustrated, where they recommend you, “stir it [malted milk powder] into cream, then make whipped cream to top ice cream sundaes or pies.”

They don’t offer up any ratios or suggested amounts, though they do have a paywalled recipe; other recipes suggest anywhere from 1 tablespoon of powder per cup of cream, all the way up to 1/4 cup. Instead of relying on hard ratios, just add the powder to the liquid cream in small amounts, sampling after each addition until it tastes suitably delicious, then whip as usual.

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