Although there are many uses for unflavored gelatin, it often rears its head during the fall and winter months, usually about the same time you start busting out vanilla marshmallows — or candied sweet potato marshmallows!
Unlike your storebought Whipped Topping, freshly whipped cream has the tendency to deflate and lose a little luster over time (and by time, we mean the next 60 minutes). If you're looking to keep things perky and upright no matter how long your party goes, or even into the next several days, then all you need is a little gelatin. Here's how:
• Place 1/4 cup of cold water in the bottom of a small sauce pan, then sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of unflavored gelatin. Let the gelatin soften and absorb all of the water (4 minutes or so). Note: Unless you are buying in bulk, this won't be quite all of one packet from a box of Knox, so make sure to seal the end back up tight so no air gets in for later use (we've even been known to tape ours).
• Place pan over low heat and stir until gelatin dissolves. Let it cool off the heat while you complete the next step.
• Using a handheld or stand mixer beat 1 1/2 cups cream and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar until soft peaks form. Slowly pour in warm dissolved gelatin and remix until soft peaks reform. You won't ever get stiff peaks like you might from traditional whipped cream, but instead you'll get soft fluffy mounds perfect for putting on top of pies and all types of after-dinner desserts. This mixture is enough to top an entire pie, but if you're making it for people to add to their own pie, we suggest doubling things as no one can resist it and will always take a little extra!
• Keep unused whipped cream in the refrigerator. It should last several days (if you can keep that stray spoon out of it!). Because of its longevity, it will allow you to make a dessert that's topped with whipped cream or has it as an ingredient in it a full day in advance, meaning at the last second before you rush out the door you can actually be getting ready instead of doing frantic things in the kitchen!