Many years ago we invited a Smith College Thanksgiving orphan to share our turkey day with us. The college does not serve Thanksgiving dinner to the small number of students who stay on campus over the holiday weekend, instead offering them vouchers to local restaurants. Hearing that students weren’t getting a homemade dinner, local alumnae began inviting the Thanksgiving orphans to their homes for a family meal.
After we had cleared the table and were getting ready to serve the apple and pumpkin pies our Thanksgiving orphan was shocked to learn that the whipped cream wasn’t going to come out of a can. In fact not only was it not going to come out of a can, but I wanted her to help me make it. She got an A in Whipped Cream 101 (all my whipped cream students get an A), but I remember thinking later, “How can someone be smart enough to attend Smith College yet not know how to make whipped cream?” Clearly the admissions process at my alma mater needs some tweaking.
If I needed to make a gallon of whipped cream I would get out my Kitchen Aide mixer. However, usually what I want is a little bit of whipped cream, just enough to top a slice of warm gingerbread or a spoon a generous dollop onto a mug of hot chocolate. Grammy Caldwell’s whipped cream maker is the perfect tool. You can whip it slow, you can whip it fast, (are you hearing the Devo song in your head yet?), you can whip it with a spoonful of sugar so that it makes soft folds of Chantilly cream, or stiffen it up a bit so that it can cover a cake. This device also works wonders on a few egg whites if they need a good beating.
It’s made up of two pieces, the green glass bowl and an egg beater with a skirt. The skirt prevents splatters, though it does mean you need to lift up the beater to check on the consistency of your egg whites or whipped cream. I have actually gotten to the point where I can tell when the cream is whipped to into billowy clouds of dairy perfection. There is a subtle change of how much effort I need to exert as I twirl the handle – liquid – whipped just right – solid. The stages are sometimes separated by only a few revolutions of the beaters. Occasionally there have been overenthusiastic whippers who caused us to start down the path of homemade butter. Which of course has much to recommend it once it is slathered over a steaming blueberry scone hot from the oven. So even if you goof up your whipping it’s still good.