Whipping cream has between 36 and 40 percent fat and adds a rich flavor and silky texture no matter how you use it. In pancakes, you can add it to the batter or use it as a topping. Stick with regular whipping cream, not ultrapasteurized cream, which doesn't whip as well, and buy the freshest cream you can find.
In the Batter
Most pancake recipes call for milk, but cream can stand in for the milk. The fat in milk or cream adds tenderness to pancakes to create a soft, delicate crumb. Whole milk is the preferred milk for baking because it has the right amount of milk fat. Using skim or 1 percent milk will result in pancakes that are less tender. Augment low-fat milk with 1 or 2 tablespoons of whipping cream for better results. You can also use whipping cream in place of the milk for extra-rich pancakes.
As a Topping
Whipped cream elevates an ordinary breakfast to something special. Spoon dollops of sweetened whipped cream over pancakes and serve with sliced strawberries, raspberries or peaches. Add some mashed banana and chocolate chips to pancake batter and top the pancakes with whipped cream and chocolate syrup or shavings. Always start with fresh, cold whipping cream and whip it until stiff peaks form. Sweeten the whipping cream with powdered sugar, not granulated sugar, which can give a gritty texture to the cream. To make the whipping cream keep its shape longer -- for a special brunch, for example -- stabilize it by adding a bit of dissolved unflavored gelatin. Stabilized whipped cream retains its volume for up to three days and is stiff enough to pipe onto the pancakes.
Regular, sweetened whipped cream is something special, but flavoring the whipped cream takes it over the top. Sift a bit of cocoa powder into the whipped cream and serve with raspberries atop chocolate pancakes for a dish delicious enough to serve for dessert. Flavor the whipped cream with nutmeg and cinnamon and serve over pumpkin or apple pancakes. Add a drizzle of caramel syrup. For a traditional taste, add some maple syrup to the whipped cream.
A New Spin
Classic American pancakes are a sure bet, but don't forget delicious variations. Crepes are nothing more than thin pancakes made from a thin batter. They roll easily and can be filled with whipping cream, along with fruit, chocolate or jam. You can make crepes ahead, wrap them and refrigerate or freeze them. Add cocoa powder to the batter for a simple dessert crepe. German pancakes are also worth trying. These pancakes are baked in a casserole dish or skillet in the oven, where they rise 4 to 6 inches above the pan as they bake. They make a dramatic statement at the breakfast table, especially when topped with whipped cream, fresh fruit or sauteed apples. Serve them immediately because they fall quickly.