While you may notice some flavor or texture differences between canned whipped cream and the kind you make yourself, you can still use the canned version for icing. Even better, some canned whipped cream comes in a chocolate flavor as well as the regular vanilla cream. As long as you understand the limitations of canned whopped cream, you can use it for cakes that you will eat the same day they are baked.
Icing in a Flash
Canned whipped cream's main selling point for icing is its convenience -- it's easy to use, leaves you with no clean-up and allows you to make decorative swirls with a push of the nozzle. Canned whipped creams vary, with some brands containing real cream in addition to milk, stabilizers and emulsifiers and other brands using hydrogenated vegetable oils as the primary ingredient instead of cream. Both types of canned cream have fewer calories than heavy whipping cream.
Canned whipped cream comes in second to real whipped cream in its taste, texture and ability to last. The tasters at "Cook's Illustrated" magazine could taste "off-flavors" in canned whipped cream, and they described the consistency of the canned cream as "foamy" instead of dense and creamy like hand-whipped cream. The canned cream also dissipates overnight in the refrigerator, leaving the cake with a thin, lumpy layer of icing that, while it is still edible, won't look attractive.
Give It a Try
If you plan to ice and eat your cake in one sitting, for a party or dessert for a crowd, canned whipped cream will keep its shape. Spray it in piles around the top of the cake and smooth it with an icing knife down around the sides of the cake, using a light touch because the cream is so airy. Spray more onto the top of the cake and smooth it out. Finally, apply decorative flourishes on the top.
Play It Safe
To inhibit the growth of bacteria that may cause illness, keep canned whipped cream in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it, as you would with any dairy product. The iced cake also needs to be refrigerated within two hours in a refrigerator set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler. In summer, refrigerate the cake within one hour after making it.
Susan Lundman began writing about her love of cooking, ingredient choices, menu planning and healthy eating after working for 20 years on children's issues at a nonprofit organization. She has written about food online professionally for ten years on numerous websites, and has provided family and friends with homemade recipes and stories about culinary adventures. Lundman received her M.A. from Stanford University.