Variations on a Classic: Whipped Cream with Sass

Or, as we say in Indiana, whup cream. 

I believe the main function of many holiday staple foods is to serve as a vehicle to deliver whipped cream to my mouth. I am in love with whipped cream, and I don’t care who knows it. I doodle SM + WC = 4EVA! on all my notebooks.

A cup of hot chocolate piled high with snowy peaks of whipped cream, drizzled with hot fudge.
I want to rub this all over my face.

Image Credit: Flicker user stevendepolo under a Creative Commons Attribution licence.

Let me begin this trip into Selena’s Lazy-Ass Kitchen by saying there is absolutely nothing wrong with traditional whipped cream. Super fresh cream, a little sugar, and a pinch of really tasty vanilla extract are three of the most amazing things in the world anyway, putting them all together is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Sometimes, h0wever, it’s fun to switch it up a little for special events. Let’s start with a basic recipe, shall we?

Basic Whipped Cream

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  • 2 parts heavy whipping cream
  • 1 part sugar, both granulated and confectioners sugars work fine. Confectioners sugar will give you stiffer peaks and works best in your showy desserts, whipped cream with granulated sugar is easier to spread if you’re looking for  more of a frosting.
  • 1-1½ teaspoons vanilla extract


Twenty minutes before you start, stick a metal bowl, the heavy cream and your whipping utensil in the freezer. Starting with cold ingredients and tools makes a sturdier whipped cream, and it the whipping process goes much faster. This is especially handy if you’re whipping old school, with a whisk.

Start whipping the cream on low if you’re using something with a motor; if you’re mixing by hand, give the cream about 20 strokes with the whisk. Add in the sugar a bit at a time until it’s all in. With a motorized tool (stand mixer, hand mixer or stick blenders all do fine), turn the speed up slowly until you’re at roughly medium-high. Hand whiskers: beat the hell out of it. Motor-driven whipping will take between 2-5 minutes, depending on how powerful your particular tool is. Mixing by hand will feel like it’s taking hours, but it should actually only take about fifteen minutes of brisk work.

When you’re satisfied with the consistency of your cream, gently fold in the vanilla extract with a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon.

Lick the beaters like your life depends on it. I won’t judge.

And Now For The Sass

We’ve got many options for adding flavor, but whipped cream comes with some limitations. Whipped cream relies on air bubbles to stay fluffy and magical, adding in anything heavy is going to not only sink to the bottom, it will break down the snowy peaks of wonder on the way. Solids like nuts, fancy sprinkles, chocolate chips or fruit bits will disappoint you. Lightweight solids that won’t weigh or break down the fluff are fine, and there are a few I’ve tried listed below.

[fancy_header variation=”red”  textColor=”#ffffff”]Extract Sass[/fancy_header]

Vanilla is the default for plain whipped cream, but it can also serve as a great complement to many other flavor extracts like rum, peppermint or anise. Almond and vanilla are also very kind to each other, but after learning that some poisons taste like almonds from my addiction to crime shows and murder mysteries, I avoid almond flavorings like the plague. Not only is marzipan made of lies and glue, as our dear pileofmonkeys points out [LIES AND GLUE! ~PoM], it’s also a veritable Trojan horse of murder most foul. All kidding aside (THE ALMONDS ARE COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE), extracts are a great place to start experimenting with flavors. Just remember to fold in any and all of our sassy additions, rather than whip them in.

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If I ever achieve my bucket list goal of starting a punk/bluegrass hybrid cover band, it will be called Sugar Sass. Until then, I’ll settle for the following sugar hacks.

Flavored sugar – A week or so before making the whipped cream, create your very own fancypants sugar with a flavor agent and some tupperware. Try any combination of cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans, citrus zest, cardamom pods, whole cloves, or, if you’re especially adventurous, a dried chili pepper. Replace all or some of the sugar in the base recipe with the infused sugar. Try making a special whipped cream for hot chocolate using sugar flavored with coffee beans, cinnamon sticks and a mild chili as a base, you’ll put me in your will.

Tinted Sugar – Attention: This is frou-frou. If you believe in magic and unicorns and the power of glitter, this is the sass you want. Like the flavored sugar, this takes a bit of advanced preparation and leak-proof food storage. A few days before you whip, measure out at least enough granulated  sugar to make a full recipe of whipped cream. Add several drops of food coloring, seal the lid and shake it vigorously until the color is relatively uniform in the sugar. Spread the colored sugar on a baking sheet lined with butcher paper, loosely cover with foil or plastic wrap, and let dry for at least 48 hours. Use in place of sugar in basic recipe, and flavor as desired. Try this as a cupcake icing. Make it totally Lisa Franktastic by cutting down the colored sugar by a couple of tablespoons and gently folding in a smidge of fancy glitter sugar.

Brown sugar – This calls for granulated brown sugar, which isn’t the same as the kind you need to pack. I usually see it in a box next to the confectioner’s sugar at my grocery store. It also calls for using about half the sugar you’d use if you were using white sugar. Try this with a hint of cinnamon and orange zest folded in, dolloped on spice cake, pumpkin pancakes or pecan pie.

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Whipped cream is not only for topping off our favorite sweet shit. Remove the sugar entirely, and whipped cream can be a great alternative to sour cream as a garnish in velvety cream soups, on baked potatoes, or as a cool companion to spicy dishes. Without the sugar, the cream will still stiffen, it just won’t stiffen as much. If you need a peakier whip, you can improvise by adding the tiniest whiff of either meringue powder (make sure there’s no sugar in it) or cream of tartar. Be very prudent, adding too much can go from experiment to disaster quicker than you think.

Once you’ve whipped up an unsweetened batch of cream for your savory machinations, get a little wild with your pantry, fridge and spice rack to develop new and interesting flavors. Heavy cream is a sturdy base, it can handle a surprising amount of flavor and provides a great catalyst for mixing flavors that may not go well together in any other context.

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While many solid items that would taste delicious mixed into whipped cream are too heavy to work, the options which won’t deflate your cream are extensive. Like the other flavorings, gently fold these in after the cream and sugar are whipped.  Try some of the following examples:

Lime zest + finely chopped mint + rum extract enhanced whipped cream mixed with lime gelatin = mojito ambrosia.

Finely chopped toasted coconut + orange zest enhanced whipped cream served with cranberry relish = a holiday party even your racist great aunt can’t ruin.

Crushed peppermint candies (tiny pieces only!) + vanilla sugar + dark chocolate shaving enhanced whipped cream on a hot fudge sundae = dinner at Selena’s.

And there you have it, more ways to modify your holiday whipped cream than you can shake a stick at. Go forth and populate your fatty dairy products with magic.



By [E] Selena MacIntosh*

Selena MacIntosh is the owner and editor of Persephone Magazine. She also fixes it when it breaks. She is fueled by Diet Coke, coffee with a lot of cream in it, and cat hair.

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