Heavy cream, whipping cream, and manufacturing cream (used by professionals, extra fatty, and available at warehouse stores) are easily whipped by hand or machine. But it can also be easily over-whipped.
To judge the peak stages, scoop out the some cream and hold it upside-down so the cream makes a peak. If the peak droops way over, it is soft. If the peak droops just a little, it is medium. If the peak holds stiff and upright, it is stiff. If the peak looks like cottage cheese, you whipped too much, made butter, and you need to start over. Or just make some toast and enjoy it.
To whip with a standing or hand-held electric mixer, keep your eye on it and be ready to stop the machine as soon as the proper stage is reached.
To whip by hand, use the largest whisk you have, and a ludicrously over-sized bowl. The more surface area your cream has, the faster it will whip. (Speed is key, especially if your arm tires easily.) Be sure to whip in a circular motion, and actually lift the whisk out of the cream with each pass. This method brings more air into the cream, speeding up the task.
Keep the cream cold until you are ready to whip. Some chef’s whip over ice, but I only do that in extremely hot places.
Sweetened Whipped Cream
The French name of this all-purpose topping is Crème Chantilly. The flavor should be subtly sweet, not cloying, because it is generally used to top desserts already sweetened. The flavor is easily changed to suit any recipe.
2 cups heavy whipping cream, well chilled
3 TB. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
In a large bowl combine cream, sugar and vanilla. Using a whisk or an electric mixer, whip cream until soft peaks appear. Watch carefully as the cream continues to stiffen, and stop when it reaches medium peaks. Use immediately, or chill for up to 30 minutes.
Chocolate Cream: Melt 1 cup of chocolate chips over a water bath, or in a microwave, and allow to cool to lukewarm. By hand, whisk cooled melted chocolate into soft peak cream until just combined. Be careful not to over whip.
Coffee Cream: By hand, whisk coffee extract (or 1 TB. espresso powder mixed with 1 TB. water) into soft peak cream until just combined. Be careful not to over whip.
Coconut Cream: Drain the liquid from a 15oz. can of coconut milk. By hand, whisk thick coconut paste into soft peak cream until just combined. Be careful not to over whip. Coconut extract can also be used in place of vanilla.