Perfect Whipped Cream
Chill a large bowl (stainless steel or glass) and a whisk or mixer beaters for 30 minutes. Combine 1 cup cold heavy cream and 1 to 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar in the bowl; whisk or beat on medium speed until the cream just holds soft peaks. (You will have about 2 cups.)
Refrigerate leftover whipped cream and use within 24 hours. You can gently re-whip it, if necessary.
What to Use
Cream The higher the fat content, the better the whipped cream, so use heavy cream or heavy whipping cream (they're at least 36 percent fat). Whipping or light whipping cream (30 to 36 percent fat) will make a less stable whipped cream, and light cream (18 to 30 percent fat) won't whip at all.
Sugar Confectioners' sugar has a bit of cornstarch in it, which helps stabilize whipped cream. Don't use granulated sugar: It doesn't dissolve and can deflate the foam.
To test for soft peaks, lift your whisk or beaters: The peak of cream should curl over slightly in the bowl. If you prefer a stiffer whipped cream, keep beating, but the longer you whip, the denser and grainier it will be. If you go too far, fold in a splash of heavy cream. If it deflates, you've overwhipped and you'll have to start over with new cream.
To make whipped cream look decorative, whip it to medium peaks, then pipe from a pastry bag with an open star tip.
Mix It Up! Top your Thanksgiving pie with one of these flavored whipped creams.
Bourbon-Spice Whipped Cream
Make Perfect Whipped Cream (above), adding 1 tablespoon bourbon and 1/2 teaspoon apple or pumpkin pie spice to the cream with the sugar.
Caramel Whipped Cream
Combine 1/4 cup jarred dulce de leche or caramel sauce and ¼ cup cold heavy cream in a large chilled bowl; beat with a chilled whisk or electric mixer on medium speed to loosen, then add ¾ cup cold heavy cream and beat to soft peaks.