Yield: About 4 to 6 servings (2 cups whipped cream); can double or triple

Cook’s notes: So easy it doesn’t really need a recipe — but it makes people nervous nevertheless. If you can find pasteurized, not ultra-pasteurized, cream, do use it. The taste is superior, but note that it won’t last as long in your fridge before souring. I also often find a plug of very thick cream at the top of my bottle from a local dairy; no worries. Just give it the sniff test to be sure, keep it cold before whipping, and don’t overwhip; if you want a thicker, stiffer cream, whip it to soft peaks, then set over a strainer to drain. If you can’t find heavy cream, whipping cream, which has a lower butterfat content, is also fine.

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

If you have time, chill your bowl and beaters in the freezer beforehand. Using a mixer (a hand mixer for 1 cup cream, that or a stand mixer for more), beat the cream on low speed for about 10 seconds. Gradually increase to high speed, draping a kitchen towel over the mixer and the outside of the bowl if you like to contain spattering. Stop at least once to scrape down the sides with a spatula. Beat in confectioners’ sugar and vanilla when the cream just starts to stiffen (about 1 minute total), then stop — when the beaters are lifted, the cream should not stand in stiff peaks, but gently droop.

If you’re not using it immediately, transfer to a strainer set over a bow, cover tightly with plastic, and chill. If it gets too thick, whisk in a bit more cream.

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