Whipping cream is popular as a topping for desserts, as well as an ingredient in many dishes. Finding the right whipping cream for your recipe can be difficult, however. Retailers offer a wide range of different creams and cream-based products, only some of which will whip effectively. In general, creams with a higher fat percentage tend to be stronger and remain more stable after whipping.
Light Whipping Cream
Also referred to simply as "whipping cream," this product contains about 30 percent milkfat, the lowest level at which cream will whip correctly. Choose this cream when fat content is a concern or when you will be serving your dish immediately. Light whipping cream produces a relatively unstable topping that falls quickly. Avoid products labeled as "light" or "single" cream, as they do not contain enough fat for whipping.
Heavy Whipping Cream
Most recipes call for this kind of whipping cream, which is readily available from many retailers. Also called heavy cream, this product has between 36 and 38 percent fat. It produces a denser, more stable whipped topping than light whipping cream. According to What's Cooking America, you can expect this kind of cream to double in volume after whipping. Choose this product when you need a topping that will hold up for at least a few hours.
Double cream contains a very high level of milkfat at about 48 percent. It is very thick and whips very readily. It works well when you need an extremely stable cream or rich finished product, but this kind of cream is easy to overwhip. Double cream is available primarily at gourmet food stores and from retailers that provide imported goods. You can substitute heavy cream in recipes where the cream must be whipped or use a mixture of heavy cream and buttermilk.
This specialized type of cream is used in commercial bakeries. It has a high percentage of milkfat at around 40 to 50 percent. Manufacturing cream's high fat content makes it very stable even over long periods of time, but it can be difficult to find. Baking Bites recommends purchasing manufacturing cream from bulk stores. You might also be able to find it at specialty retailers that cater to bakers.
G.D. Palmer is a freelance writer and illustrator living in Milwaukee, Wis. She has been producing print and Web content for various organizations since 1998 and has been freelancing full-time since 2007. Palmer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in writing and studio art from Beloit College in Beloit, Wis.