Whenever you are choosing a dessert, it is not just the dessert you are choosing, but the accompaniment as well. Not every restaurant seems to offer the full trio of ice cream, custard or cream and this definitely influences whether you go for the chocolate fudge cake or the apple pie. Even with cream, there is a further choice of it being whipped or not.
You can’t beat a dollop of whipped cream with dessert; somehow it seems nicer than plain old cream of the non-whipped variety. Is there any science behind this?
Well no, it must just be perception. After all, the cream itself is no different whipped out of a can than it is normally. It is a cream charger that makes the cream whipped. The cream charger contains nitrous oxide, which although it sounds odd, shouldn’t affect the taste of cream. Its nickname of laughing gas may mean you are in a better mood whilst eating whipped cream; therefore it seems to taste nicer. Perhaps we can extend that to explain some of whipped creams more raunchier uses.
Anyway back to the science
The cream inside a whipped cream canister must have a fat content of at least 28 per cent for it to work, so maybe that is why, it is fuller fat and generally the fattier something is the tastier it is.
So how is whipped cream actually generated?
The cream charger uses nitrous oxide to create pressure in the canister and the gas then dissolves in the cream. When you press down the nozzle to squirt it over your dessert of choice, the gas turns from its dissolved state into bubbles. These bubbles then create the texture that is so familiar to whipped cream lovers.
Another advantage of nitrous oxide is that it has a special property that prevents bacteria from growing, meaning that your can of whipped cream doesn’t have to be consumed immediately, however tempting that is.
One last bit of science. The reason you see people shaking the can of whipped cream? It helps the gas dissolve.
So there you have it. The next time you are confronted with the choice of desserts, consider the scientific work undertaken to produce a cream charger and this may just sway you. Just like with most inventions, how someone decided that cream needs to be whipped I don’t know, but without that inventiveness, cakes would be nowhere near as nice.
Ashley Williams from www.cateringpantry.co.uk is an expert in the use of cream chargers.