Indulge: Whipped Cream every Morning (No, Really)


I make whipped cream near every morning. My niece, who has two lovely grown children, can vividly recall the sound of the metal whisk on the side of the metal bowl, each morning. She came to visit out west 40 years ago as a teenager. And slept in the summer loft, above the kitchen and the whisking.

I make no apologies nor claims, it is my own morning. I have a ritual to each detail — the whisk must be classic size and temper, the bowl must be thin steel 4-quart size, not smaller nor larger, the cream fresh whipping variety. I use white granulated sugar and pure vanilla extract. I have used fresh vanilla beans and many different kinds of sugar as variants, but it has always defaulted to the regular.

Never use standard cream, it is difficult to whisk into a whip. Always check the date on the cream, a slight sour smell from aging cream will ruin it all. A good fresh cream, whipped and sweetened, will last in the fridge perfectly for 3-4 days, if kept in a good, sealed container.

Shake the cream well before pouring a good stream into the steel bowl. Tilt the bowl slightly, grip well and whisk, in a tight circular motion. If the cream is too thin, if the bowl is too small or too big, if the whisk is too small or too large, then it simply will not work. At least not easily. 

If the details are in place, then whisk the cream, evenly and even with a hum. It is a sweet routine, not like chopping a tree, and will only take half a minute, not more. If the bowl is too small, then there will not be room to whisk enough air into the cream to fluff It. If the cream is too thin, then it has no interest in fluffing. If the bowl is too big, then you will have a harder time concentrating the cream to get air into it. 

I go counter-clockwise, but I am a lefty.

When the cream is beginning to gather and thicken, stop, and add a good stream of the sugar and a half-teaspoon of the vanilla extract. Whisk that into the cream, three good whisks and it will disappear.

Thierry, from Le Panier, was here one morning as I had stopped whisking. You stop, now? he asked and laughed. Americans whip until it is too thick. You have stopped like the French.

It is probably the difference of only four whisks but work on it – stopping just when the cream is full and before it can stand up in peaks.

Using a rubber spatula, ease the whip cream into a container. I use a clear glass one, six inches wide and about four inches high, with a glass lid and a rubber gasket. The clear glass helps you to see the whipped cream in the fridge and that is a reminder to use it. The glass lid helps of course to see it as well and the gasket keeps the fridge air out. You do not want whipped cream that has a scent of broccoli.

Keep your fingers out of the whipped cream, they will introduce bacteria. Cream is fragile, in its way. Always use a spoon, always.

Rinse the steel bowl and the whisk and then add dish soap to the bowl. If there are any stray dishes, wash those and then the whisk and even the bowl itself. It is important that whipping cream not be something that ties up the sink and the counter, or it will always have a slightly negative recollection. Shake the whisk dry, use a towel on the bowl, and put them away. It is best if there is simply no sign.

I use the whipped cream on our coffee, in the morning.  I am particular about using a simple plastic spoon to apply the whipped cream. It has no weight and is slightly flexible — I can feel the whipped cream. With the plastic spoon, you can lay a small spoonful on hot coffee more accurately. Or, on a hot piece of cake or pie, you can lay the dollop perfectly upright.

After a day or so in the fridge, the whipped cream might have settled a little. Using a plastic fork as a whisk. a few quick circular turns, right in the container bowl, will bring the cream back to upright.

If I have fresh fruit, a small dollop of whipped cream makes it, in a way, fresher. If I have a lazy morning and fresh biscuits or croissants and jam, then the same dollop will add the lovely white color and a silky texture to the rough edges of the morning biscuits.

Whipped, it is in truth not much cream. A pint will last easily a week. Whipped cream is the present. A perfect present tense, in the proper place.

My son, who is becoming his own good cook, says that when he whips cream, when he gets the bowl and the whisk and the cream and such out, and then makes whipped cream, his friends think it a kind of magic.

A mere teaspoon dollop of fresh whipped cream on hot black coffee will not ruin you, it will only ruin ill humor.

Peter Miller
Peter Miller
Peter Miller runs the Peter Miller Design Bookshop, in Pioneer Square, in the alley between First Avenue and Alaska Way. He is there, every day. He has written three books, Lunch at the Shop, Five Ways to Cook, and How to Wash the Dishes. A fourth book, Shopkeeping, A Manual, will be published in Spring 2024, by Princeton Architectural Press.


  1. Thanks for this. If I’m in a restaurant and don’t want dessert but would love a meal-ending bit of love, I ask for a bowl of whipped cream. I feel almost smug knowing my dessert is the best one on the table.

    • Helen,

      I use a 4 qt steel bowl and tip it a little when I whisk. This morning I measured out the cream I needed – about 3/4 cup. That will be enough whipped cream for three coffees, today and tomorrow, and a bit left over for a dessert or such tonight. Whipped cream is perfect on blackberry cobbler and the blackberries are about here!

  2. Whipped cream. The all-purpose dish, good any time of day, on its own or with virtually anything else.
    My husband and I have been friends with a delightful Hungarian couple for many years. The first time they came to a dinner party at our house, Charlie brought a pot of coffee to the table at the end of the meal and asked if they would like some. They politely declined. He went back to the kitchen and brought out the big bowl of whipped cream. Bela smiled and said, “You have schlag! We have changed our minds about the coffee.”


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