As much as I adore plain whipped cream, I also love that it can be flavored. It loses its marvelous neutral character and becomes a flavor component in its own right, and sometimes that is exactly what you want.
1. Coffee Whipped Cream: Stir 2 teaspoons espresso powder or 2 1/2 teaspoons freeze-dried coffee crystals and a generous tablespoon of sugar into 1 cup heavy cream. Whip as usual, tasting and adjusting the sweetness toward the end.
Tastes good with: chocolate desserts, strawberries, pineapple.
2. Cocoa Whipped Cream: Use 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder and 4 teaspoons sugar for 1 cup heavy cream. Mix the cocoa and sugar with a tablespoon or two of the cream to form a thick paste (this serves to eliminate the lumps in the cocoa) before stirring in the rest of the cream. (For Mocha Whipped Cream, add 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons espresso powder or freeze dried coffee crystals to taste.) For the thickest texture and richest flavor, refrigerate for an hour or overnight before whipping.
Tastes good with: chocolate desserts.
3. Nibby Whipped Cream: Start at least several hours ahead. Combine 1 cup heavy cream and 2 tablespoons roasted cacao nibs in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and let steep for 20 minutes. Strain the cream into a bowl, pressing on the nibs to extract as much liquid as possible; discard the nibs. Refrigerate the cream for at least several hours, or overnight, before whipping, adding sugar to taste.
Tastes good with: chocolate desserts, meringues and pavlova, coffee drinks, sweetened blackberries.
4. Jasmine Whipped Cream: Start at least 8 hours ahead. Stir 1 tablespoon good-quality jasmine tea leaves into 1 cup heavy cream. Cover and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours (no longer). Strain the cream into a bowl, pressing on the tea leaves to extract as much liquid as possible; discard the tea leaves. Whip the cream with 2 teaspoons sugar; or refrigerate it to whip up to a day later.
Tastes good with: rich chocolate desserts.
5. Orange Blossom Whipped Cream: Add 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest, and 3/4 teaspoon orange flower water to 1 cup heavy cream. Whip as usual, tasting and adjusting the flavor and sweetness toward the end.
Tastes good with: chocolate desserts.
6. Rose Whipped Cream: Add 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon rose water to 1 cup heavy cream. Whip as usual, tasting and adjusting the flavor and sweetness toward the end.
Tastes good with: berries (in particular, strawberries), watermelon, chocolate desserts.
7. Halvah Whipped Cream: Use 1/4 cup or more finely grated or crumbled halvah and 1 tablespoon of sugar (or more to taste) for 1 cup of cream. Whip and sweeten the cream as usual, then fold in the halvah. Or whip the halvah with the cream to start with, adding sugar to taste along the way; it won't get as fluffy, but the flavor will be more pronounced and the texture smoother.
Tastes good with: strawberries.
8. Lemon Whipped Cream: Use 1 tablespoon sugar and 2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons cold Lemon Curd for 1 cup heavy cream. Whip the cream with the sugar and fairly thick but not quite stiff. Whisk in the lemon curd.
Tastes good with: strawberries or blueberries, fresh ginger gingerbread.
9. Fresh Mint Whipped Cream: Start at least 8 hours ahead. Stir 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves into 1cup heavy cream. Cover and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours (no longer). Strain the cream into a bowl, pressing on the mint leaves to extract as much liquid as possible; discard the mint. Whip the cream with sugar to taste; or refrigerate it to whip up to a day later.
Tastes good with: strawberries or other berries, bananas, sponge cake, chocolate desserts, coffee drinks.
10. Praline Whipped Cream: Use 1/2 cup to 1 1/4 cup (to taste) finely chopped or crushed Praline for 1 cup heavy cream. Whip the cream until it holds a soft shape. If you fold in the crushed praline shortly before serving, it will retain its lovely crunch. If you whip the cream and add the praline a few hours in advance, the cream will dissolve the caramelized sugar and take on more of a burnt sugar flavor and color, though the bits of praline will be less crunchy. Divine either way!
Tastes good with: Berries, peaches, nectarines, bananas, apricots, chocolate desserts. Or use to top or fill a simple sponge cake or a nutty sponge cake. It's a superb filling for cream puffs too.
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