Whipped cream is cream that is whipped by a whisk or mixer until it is light and fluffy.
It is produced when heavy cream is subjected to mechanical aeration. Air is incorporated into cream containing at least 35% fat by one of two processes: mechanical agitation with a high-speed blade or whip, or injecting a gas under high pressure, which expands rapidly when released from pressurized containment.
Whipped cream is a culinary colloid. In chemistry, a colloid is a mixture in which one substance of microscopically dispersed insoluble or soluble particles is suspended throughout another substance.
The discovery of whipping cream is lost in obscurity.
The process is easy enough to have been discovered by accident many times in many places.
One likely scenario is where someone in a cool climate was making butter, but being in a hurry, whipped the cream rather than churning it.
A common folk tale tells of a fast horse ride with a half filled container of cream.
Whipped cream, with or without flavorings, was known as “snow cream” or “milk snow” (neve di latte, neige de lait) until the 17th century.
Thanks to the Oxford English Dictionary, we do know that the term “whipped cream” first appeared in 1673, while the French term for it, “crème fouettée,” appeared even earlier, in 1629.
Crème Chantilly is another name for whipped cream. The name Chantilly is first connected with whipped cream in the mid-18th century, around the time that the Baronne d’Oberkirch praised the “cream” served at a lunch at the Hameau de Chantilly—but did not say what exactly it was, or call it Chantilly cream.
The difference between “whipped cream” and “crème Chantilly” is not systematic. Some authors distinguish between the two, with crème Chantilly being sweetened, and whipped cream not. However, most authors treat the two as synonyms, with both being sweetened, neither being sweetened, or treating sweetening as optional.
In early recipes through the end of the 19th century, naturally separated cream was whipped, typically with willow or rush branches. The resulting foam on the surface was skimmed off and drained, a process taking an hour or more, and was repeated until enough cream had been skimmed.
Today, cream is usually whipped with a whisk, an electric or hand mixer, or a food processor.
In the 1930’s, British scientists started developing aeration systems for use in the food industry. They soon developed a working system using pressurized N2O (Nitrous Oxide). N2O immerses fully into dairy products such as cream, causing instant whipped cream when the pressure is released.
Alcohol-infused whipped cream is a type of whipped cream that’s mixed with an alcoholic drink. It has been sold under brand names such as Liquor Whipped, which is 28 proof; CREAM, which is 30 proof; Whipped Lightning which is 35.5 proof and is made in various flavors. The toppings have been criticized for their potential to be “aimed at young drinkers.”
Whipped cream is a popular topping for fruit and desserts such as pie, ice cream (especially sundaes), cupcakes, cakes, milkshakes, waffles, hot chocolate, cheesecakes, Jello and puddings. It is also used as an ingredient in many desserts, for example as a filling for profiteroles and layer cakes.
Whipped cream is also served on coffee, especially in the Viennese coffee house tradition, where coffee with whipped cream is known as Melange mit Schlagobers.
National Whipped Cream Day is observed annually on January 5th.