The Key Ingredient To Make Homemade Whipped Cream Better

Homemade food always tastes better, and that's no exception when it comes to whipped cream. This vital dessert accompaniment can be purchased in grocery stores, but you can easily whip up a tastier version at home. For a basic whipped cream recipe, you only need three ingredients: heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla. But one secret ingredient can elevate your favorite topping to a whole new level.

Sour cream! Yes, that viscous, tart dairy product that's prized for its creamy, acidic flavor can give your homemade whipped cream a fresh new taste. It's a popular ingredient in cooking, but you can surprisingly find it in a lot of baking recipes as well. This dairy product provides moisture and creates a more tender crumb when added to baked goods (like cake). But the subtle tangy flavor it contributes to desserts provides a delightful contrast to the sweetness that accompanies it.

You can often find sour cream snuck into a large variety of dairy-based desserts, from cheesecakes to ice cream, for this very purpose. It's all thanks to the presence of lactic acid. Sour cream is inoculated with lactic bacteria like those used to make cheese and yogurt, and those microbes ferment the sugars found naturally in dairy (lactose) which produces acid. The sharp acidity of the sour notes cut through the richness and balance out the sweetness. And in whipped cream, the tangy substance adds complexity and depth to an otherwise one-dimensional topping.

Making whipped cream at home

To make a successful homemade whipped cream, there are some things you should keep in mind. You'll need to begin with heavy cream or heavy whipping cream due to its high fat content. Whipping a mixture involves incorporating air into it so that the volume increases, and the fat molecules are the key to trapping the air. It's important that the cream be cold, as cold fat will emulsify more quickly and be stable for longer. If overwhipped, you'll end up with butter. You can further add stability to your whipped cream recipe by adding cornstarch. You'll often see whipped cream recipes that use powdered sugar for this reason, as many commercial brands incorporate a small amount to prevent clumping.

But what do you do if you want some tangy whipped cream but don't have the sour cream? The best replacement would be Greek yogurt or crème fraîche, due to their similar flavors and textures. If you're in a pinch, you could also acidify your cream with some vinegar. Try this topping with fruit-based desserts or introduce a little bite to decadent chocolate treats. But be warned: once you try it, you won't be able to get it off your mind!