There are still many cooks out there who prefer to use gadgets that employ muscle power instead of electricity. Yet when it comes to whipping heavy cream, nothing does it more quickly and efficiently than a powerful mixer.
But how many homemakers can afford a costly machine?
For $11.95, Quick Whip from Gourmac, the gourmet division of Hutzler Manufacturing Co. in Canaan, Conn., is a fun kitchen "toy" that works. With a few limitations, of course. For one thing, you can only whip half a pint of cream at a time. And if you don't use a whipped cream stabilizer, you may lose the foam if you leave the cream standing, so rewhipping may be necessary.
Made of white acrylic with a see-through cylinder, the German-made gadget resembles a cookie press or a pastry decorating tube. In fact it is a decorating tube--it comes with four decorating tips for different design treatments and one filler tip. The unit also is dishwasher-proof.
How It Works
The whipper cylinder has a rod with a handle on one end; attached to the other end is a set of three multi-holed disks with metal springs in between for a springy pumping action.
Cream that's placed in the sealed cylinder reaches a stiff consistency after about 45 seconds of long, rapid strokes with the whipper. (To achieve a nice thick whip more quickly, the cream and the gadget should be well-chilled.)
When the bottom cap is unscrewed, the desired tip can be attached so that one can pipe a design onto a dessert. It may be necessary to pump the whipper at least once during the decorating process to get at all the whipped cream. One other drawback to using it as a decorating tube is that some cream will be left in the cylinder. The excess has to be spooned out or placed into another pastry bag. A cap is provided to seal the unit for refrigerated storage of any leftover cream.
What I like about the whipping tool (aside from getting a tiny bit of exercise) is that there's very little chance of overwhipping the cream. When using heavier beaters, you can overprocess the cream to a rough or coarse texture that breaks, or you can even churn it into butter.
Keeping Good Shapes
To keep the foam and ensure stiff shapes, use a good whipped cream stabilizer like Dr. Oetkers, available in specialty food shops. Or add 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin to a cup of cream before whipping. For flavor variations, add the following to the cream after it has reached a soft foam: powdered, granulated or maple sugar, food color, grated orange peel, cinnamon, instant coffee, brandy, rum or cordials, vanilla and nutmeg.
Another innovative gadget from Gourmac is a set of tablecloth weights ($4.95) that look like small clothespins with heavy oval weights at the end.
"They're a real winner," said Marjorie Duncan, the manufacturer's representative in Los Angeles. "They not only hold down tablecloths in a breeze during lawn parties, but they can also be clipped on beach towels. I've even heard people raving about them for shower curtains."
Made of quality grade melamine, tablecloth weights are available in sets of four in white as well as splashy combinations of blue and white, red and white, and black and white.
"People who do catering love the weights," Duncan said. "Unfortunately, their biggest problem is theft."
The Quick Whip and the tablecloth weights from Gourmac are available at Cookin Stuff (Torrance and La Habra), Hinshaw's Dep a rtment Store, The Kitchen Corner (La Canada).