A Harte Appetite: Whipped Cream - Turning the Ordinary into Extraordinary
A recent issue of the University of Illinois Alumni magazine, a publication to which as a graduate of the institution I am automatically subscribed for the rest of my life, ran a feature on Charles Getz, who received his Ph.D. in chemistry from Illinois.
To earn extra cash while in school, Getz got a job at the dairy bacteriology department and began experimenting with ways to sterilize milk.
He tried infusing pressurized gas into the milk but discovered the gas merely made the milk foam.
Though he failed at his objective, he had a brainstorm.
Having worked in his youth at an ice-cream shop, Getz knew it took valuable time to whip cream, so he expanded his experiments and started using cream instead of milk.
Ultimately, he built the world's first instant cream-whipping machine.
There's nothing particularly surprising about this story -- except I can't quite understand how despite the fact that over the years my alma mater has produced some 23 Nobel laureates, Getz is not among them.
Whipped cream, after all, is one of the most decadent preparations of all time. For that matter, even when not whipped, cream, as an ingredient, cannot be beat.
Well, actually, it can, of course. Whipped to a froth, cream soars to new heights. Truly, the easiest way to turn something ordinary into something extraordinary is to apply a generous quantity of whipped cream.
Charles Getz, to be sure, did not invent whipped cream. He just figured out how to speed up the process.
In its earliest incarnation, whipped cream was likely produced using tree branches as beaters.
We've come a long way since with the whisk, the rotary beater, and the electric mixer, not to mention Reddi-wip, a product using Charles Getz's research.
However you do it, cream, when beaten, results in peaks of perfection.
Flavored Whipped Cream
It might be gilding the lily, but when you're looking for something beyond plain whipped cream, consider these recipes, adapted from GourmetSleuth.com.
Brown Sugar Whipped Cream: combine 1 cup chilled whipping cream and 1 tablespoon brown sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
Spiced Whipped Cream: combine 1 cup chilled whipping cream, 1 heaping tablespoon powdered sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon each ground cinnamon and ground ginger and beat until soft peaks form.
Mocha Whipped Cream: combine 1 cup chilled whipping cream, 1 teaspoon espresso powder, 1 tablespoon cocoa, and 1 tablespoon powdered sugar and beat until soft peaks form.
Lavender Whipped Cream: combine 1 cup whipping cream and 1 teaspoon dried culinary lavender and bring to a simmer. Strain cream and chill 2 hours. Add 2 tablespoons powdered sugar and beat until soft peaks form.
Peppermint Whipped Cream: combine 1 cup chilled whipping cream, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 tablespoon powdered sugar and beat until soft peaks form. Fold in 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy.