Homemade whipped cream. Try it just once and you'll never look at the store brands again. Nothing beats the flavor or texture, and preparation is simple. Purists are right -- using a hand whisk is one of the best ways. But here's a secret: I think the food processor method is the best.
Here are some tips for making perfect whipped cream:
Start with cold ingredients and utensils: cold cream, cold whisk, cold mixing bowl (store your bowl and whisk or beaters in the freezer for several minutes before getting started, if possible). Your cream will whip faster if everything is chilled.
Add the sweeteners or flavorings just as the cream begins to thicken and gain volume. Taste and adjust as necessary before the cream is fully whipped, otherwise the additions won't properly incorporate.
It's easy to over-whip, so whenever possible, whip the cream by hand with a whisk for more control. If you use a stand or hand mixer, work on a lower speed (this will also improve the overall texture).
If you over-whip the cream and it begins to lose that smooth texture and become stiff and coarse, and you see it separate and begin to curdle, you may be able to fix it. Gently whisk in (by hand) a little more cream until you regain the proper texture. Of course, whip long enough and you may happily find you're on your way to homemade butter.
Food processor method: Probably the best trick I've learned was from former Test Kitchen director Donna Deane. She showed me how to make whipped cream using a food processor. The method is the same: Place the cold ingredients in the bowl (the bowl and blade do not have to be chilled) and process until you get the consistency you want, barely a minute or two. The texture is rich and superior to any other I've tasted. And it's the method I demonstrate in the video above.
Ready to try it? Homemade whipped cream is a natural for the pumpkin pie recipe below. It's the classic dessert for Thanksgiving.
Craving more? Check out our handy holiday recipes and cooking tips page to help you out with your Thanksgiving planning. Not only do we cover familiar holiday dishes, we also share tips and tricks to save you time and energy during this busy time of year. And you can find all your Thanksgiving recipe needs in our California Cookbook. If you have any tips or questions you'd like me to explore, leave a comment or shoot me an email at noelle.carter@latimes.
PUMPKIN PIE WITH BOURBON AND BACON CRUST
Total time: About 1 1/2 hours, plus chilling times | Makes 1 (9-inch) pie
Note: Refrigerate the dough at least 2 hours, preferably overnight, to give the dough sufficient time to relax; otherwise, it may toughen and shrink while baking. If using shortening instead of the bacon grease, increase the salt by 1/4 teaspoon (to 3/4 teaspoon). For a nice sheen, brush the crust with egg white before baking.
1 1/2 cups (6.4 ounces) flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons cold bacon grease or shortening, cut into 3 pieces
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2 -inch cubes
2 tablespoons cold bourbon
2 tablespoons ice water, more as needed
1. To make the dough using a food processor, pulse together the flour, salt and sugar until thoroughly combined. Add the bacon grease and pulse until incorporated (the dough will look like moist sand). Add the butter and pulse just until the butter is reduced to small, pea-sized pieces. Sprinkle the bourbon and water over the mixture, and pulse once or twice until incorporated. Remove the crumbly mixture to a large bowl and gently press the mixture together with a large spoon, rubber spatula or the palm of your hand just until it comes together to form a dough. Mold the dough into a disc roughly 6 inches in diameter. Cover the disc tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
To make the dough by hand, whisk together the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add the bacon grease and incorporate using a pastry cutter or fork (the dough will look like moist sand). Cut in the butter just until it is reduced to small, pea-sized pieces. Sprinkle the bourbon and water over the mixture, and stir together just until incorporated. Gently press the crumbly mixture together with a large spoon, rubber spatula or the palm of your hand just until it comes together to form a dough. Mold the dough into a disc roughly 6 inches in diameter. Cover the disc tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a round roughly 13 inches in diameter. Place in a 9-inch baking dish, crimping the edges as desired. Freeze the formed shell for 20 to 30 minutes before filling and baking.
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups half-and-half
4 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Combine pumpkin, brown and granulated sugars, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt in mixing bowl. Beat until well-blended. Add half-and-half, eggs and butter, and stir to combine. Pour filling into the prepared pie shell. Bake at 425 degrees 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake until toothpick inserted comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool to room temperature or chill before serving.
Each of 8 servings: 273 calories; 6 grams protein; 37 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 12 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 94 mg. cholesterol; 21 grams sugar; 281 mg. sodium.