Fresh whole milk contains cream. When whole milk is allowed to stand, the cream rises to the top and can be skimmed off. Heavy whipping cream has a high butterfat content of 36 percent or higher. Heavy whipping cream is sold as pasteurized and ultra-pasteurized. For desserts and whipping, many cooks prefer pasteurized cream, because it is fresher-tasting and more flavorful. Ultra-pasteurized cream is treated with a different heat process for longer storage, and some people think it tastes bland.
Chill the bowl, beaters and cream for 15 minutes in the freezer or one hour in the refrigerator before you plan to whip the cream. Colder temperatures help the cream whip faster.
Pour the cold cream into the cold bowl. Using the chilled whisk or beaters, begin whipping the cream. If whisking by hand, use long strokes to incorporate more air into the cream quickly. When the cream begins to thicken, after about one to two minutes of whipping, add powdered confectioner’s sugar a little at a time, beating it into the cream.
Continue whipping until soft peaks form. When you lift the whisk or beaters out of the cream and peaks follow the whisk but topple over, it has reached soft peak stage. Add vanilla or other flavoring and continue whipping until it is incorporated thoroughly and the cream is smooth and fluffy.