The Delicious Secret Ingredient to Stable Whipped Cream (Without Gelatin)

updated Nov 24, 2020
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Ginger Pumpkin Pie with Graham Cracker Crust

Without whipped cream, pie is not pie, ice cream is not ice cream, and hot chocolate? I’m not even going there. Yes, I am even pro-Reddi Wip, as well as Cool Whip — and have no qualms about indulging in whipped cream in all its forms via a straight-up spoonful (or many) from the bowl, can, or directly from the tub, if no one is looking.

Whipped cream is not the most long-lasting of treats, and for a baker who likes making everything ahead, particularly when entertaining around the holidays, its short “shelf-life” is kind of a bummer. I don’t really want to pull out my stand mixer post-Thanksgiving dinner, for instance, to make a batch of whipped cream for pie-dolloping. Now, it is true that the food processer can provide you with make-ahead-ish whipped cream, but what about whipped cream that is still miraculously stable a full 24 hours and change after you make it? To achieve that, my friends, another one of my all-time favorites comes into play: the mighty marshmallow.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Marshmallows Will Give You Whipped Cream That Lasts Days

I am a huge fan of marshmallows and love eating them straight from the bag, putting them in s’mores (either in the oven with pretzels instead of graham crackers, or, traditionally, over a campfire). I ADORE and WORSHIP them in all cereal bars, be they Rice Krispies onesKix cereal ones, you name it; and I love them in fudge. And lately, I love them for transforming my whipped cream-making from a last-minute endeavor, to one of the first to-dos crossed off the list pre-celebration.

The idea of stabilizing whipped cream with marshmallows first came to me after developing a recipe for an easy-peasy chocolate mousse that relies on melted marshmallows for its airy, foamy texture, as opposed to gelatin or whipped egg whites. Of course, logic dictates that it is actually the gelatin in the marshmallows that we have to thank for this; but I, for one, don’t love baking and cooking with gelatin, what with its fussy little packets, small bowls for blooming, etc. Thus, if a marshmallow (or several, in the case of the mousse) can do the setting-up work for me, I’m all in.

And it can and it does in the case of whipped cream. Essentially, whipping a cup of heavy cream along with a single melted marshmallow, and the requisite confectioners’ sugar and dash of vanilla, yields a fluffy, soft whipped cream that holds its voluptuous volume for a full day, if not more (although not that I would know anything about “if not more,” as after 24 hours my willpower is gone and the whipped cream spoonful-sneaking from the fridge moves into overdrive). The lovely, subtle vanilla of the marshmallow rounds out the cream’s flavor, providing a little more complexity, without being remotely overpowering.

How to Use Marshmallows to Stabilize Your Whipped Cream

You can use a regular-sized marshmallow, a handful of minis (about 10 to 15) or a generous tablespoon of Marshmallow Fluf to stabilize one cup of cold heavy cream for 24 hours. If you happen to have all three on hand (that would be me), the Fluf is the easiest to melt and transfer to the stand mixer bowl, followed by the minis, and then the regular-sized marshmallows. Sticky is the name of the game here, and I found the Fluf and minis to be slightly less so once melted than the regular-sized marshmallow — but rest assured that they all work.

Here’s how I do it: I melt the marshmallows in the microwave in either a five-second or 10-second burst on high, stir it up, and plop it into the cream along with powdered sugar and vanilla to taste. I’m a “tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of extract for every cup” kind of gal, but you do you. I then whip on medium to medium-high until medium peaks form, transfer the deliciousness to a covered container, and put it in the fridge until game day. Done and done.

Bottom line, friends: Whether you are a make-ahead peep like me, or are make-ahead-adjacent, stabilizing your whipped cream with a melted marshmallow is a holiday pie game-changer.

Need a recipe? Start here: How To Make Whipped Cream