Customers are becoming ever more demanding: they have begun comparing shops and chains in search of the perfect flavours and won’t hesitate to criticise what they don’t like: reception, products, aesthetics, innovation: all passed under the critical eye of truly expert gourmets. A decisive factor in order to maintain your hard-earned positive reviews is never to underestimate your whipped cream.
For years, the only way to serve cream on top of a gelato seemed to be to press a button and plop some fluffy curls on top of the cone or cup. Gradually, as customer tastes evolve, we are seeing a return to whipped cream from the planetary mixer, stored in a tank: it may be less “choreographic” but it’s tastier and more compact.
The base is always top-quality cream. There are 2 main types of whipping cream: fresh cream and non-dairy creamer, which is usually long-life. After whipping, non-dairy creamer looks very fluffy, full of air, and in fact seems very light with a “less heavy” taste. But that is only an impression, because it is the air in it that makes it light, whereas non-dairy creamer actually has a high fat content. The non-dairy creamers we recommend are organic (usually soy-based), which do not use hydrogenation or fractionation processes, and so the ingredients will not include the words “vegetable fat”.
Turning to fresh whipping cream, the only two current alternatives are pasteurised fresh whipping cream and UHT long-life. The better of the two is without doubt pasteurised cream, as it has undergone milder heat treatment and so whips better than UHT and also has a better bouquet.
For perfect results, the cream should be as cold as possible, at a temperature of about 2-4°C. This also applies to UHT cream, which is usually not kept in the refrigerator. Make sure that the bowl and the whisks (preferably steel) are not hot, so care needs to be taken in the summer months! The cream needs to be sweetened and flavoured before whipping, using caster sugar or icing sugar. Excellent cream is also the result of sweetening it the right way. Try experimenting until you find the exact proportions of ingredients, which will help to avoid unpleasant surprises (too sweet or bland).
Now you are finally ready to whip the cream: better to start at low speed, increasing it as you go on, provided of course that the equipment can take it. Carry on whipping until the cream is compact and sticking to the walls (test it by upending the bowl: the cream must stay stuck to the bowl). Make sure you stop whipping, otherwise the cream will liquefy again, taking on a buttery texture and becoming less palatable.
A few hours later, the cream begins to lose volume and turns liquid again. The process occurs gradually, usually starting from the edge of the container and then continuing towards the centre. You can stabilize the cream with thickeners, usually based on corn starch or agar-agar, freely available on the market.
Mix whipped cream with other ingredients for fresh, tasty variations
- Fold strawberry purée into the whipped cream for a mousse that is perfect for Verrines
- Colour the cream with a few drops of food colouring for an unusual flavour
- Try out chocolate cream by whipping equal parts of grated dark chocolate and liquid cream