Test Kitchen video tip: Perfect whipped cream

Homemade whipped cream. Try it just once and you'll never look at the store brands again. Nothing beats the flavor or texture, and the method 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 prior, 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 (it will 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 we used for the photo above.

If you have any kitchen tips or questions you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or shoot me an email at noelle.carter@latimes.com.


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Ruby Blackburn Lambert's persimmon pudding Total time: About 1 hour

Servings: Makes three puddings, with six to eight servings each

Note: Cornelia Lambert called the "Hidden Kitchens" hotline to share how her grandmother, Ruby, turned her legendary cooking into a local fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity. Ruby grew up in the early 1900s at the foot of the mountain in Carroll County in southern Virginia, where her parents had a huge vegetable garden and grew everything they ate. During the Depression, Ruby's family moved to the town of Mt. Airy, N.C., where they settled on the land where the family still lives. Mt. Airy was the inspiration for the town of Mayberry in "The Andy Griffith Show." Ruby later married Fred Lambert, who was, in fact, a very distant cousin of Andy Griffith's.

1 cup butter or shortening or butter-flavored Crisco

2 scant cups sugar

4 eggs

1 quart ripe Hachiya persimmons (about six fruits), hulled and put through a food mill or ricer to remove seeds to make about 2 cups puree

1 cup whole milk

2 cups (8.5 ounces) flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups fine bread crumbs

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Whipped cream, chopped pecans, ice cream or other toppings, for garnish

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 3 standard loaf pans or pie dishes.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, then the persimmons and milk. Beat in the flour, baking powder, salt, bread crumbs and cinnamon. Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared dishes.

3. Bake the puddings until each has puffed, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes; rotate each pudding halfway through baking for even coloring. (Pudding baked in a pie plate will take less time to bake because of the increased surface area.) The puddings will settle as they cool.

4. Serve hot from the oven topped with whipped cream, chopped pecans or -- better yet -- butter pecan ice cream.

Each of 24 servings: 208 calories; 3 grams protein; 30 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 9 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 57 mg. cholesterol; 18 grams sugar; 200 mg. sodium.

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