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I was making a chocolate mousse style dessert and wanted to finish it with an amaretto flavoured whipped cream.

I whipped some double cream not too stiff, then added a glug of amaretto and some ground almond for good measure, and whipped again. After tasting I wanted it to have more amaretto flavor so I put a bit more in and re-whipped. The cream curdled into a blobby, watery mess straight away. I tried again with the same results. Did I add too much amaretto?

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When you say "whipped again", do you mean that you whipped as forcefully as you did when first making the cream, or just briefly to integrate the amaretto? –  logophobe Jun 14 at 19:15
    
Mousse is made with eggs. You mixed cream with... well, water. What you describe is pretty much what I would expect to happen... –  Aaronut Jun 14 at 20:07
    
Thankyou friend, my kitchen ambitions outweigh my actual abilities quite often but every day is a school day! Simon –  Simon jones Jun 14 at 20:29

1 Answer 1

Whipped cream - as in, pure cream that's been whipped - isn't stable. Even just left on its own for a long enough time, it will collapse without a stabilizer like gelatin, xanthan gum, and/or dextrose.

You added water and alcohol, which is pretty much the opposite of what it needs. I'm hardly surprised that it collapsed. Most whippable items will fail to whip if you add more than a tiny bit of water. You might have been OK if you'd used a stabilizer, but even then, I wouldn't count on it.

Chantilly cream is a mix of 3 parts whipping cream to 1 part pastry cream (which doesn't whip, but is thickened with eggs). Because it is so much more stable, it can accept much more in terms of flavouring. It takes much longer to make but would probably have handled the amount of amaretto that you added.

But a much better solution would be to use almond extract instead, which imparts far more almond flavour with far less liquid.

A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that flavoured treats can be easily made from liqueurs. Most of the time, liqueurs have far too much liquid. I once, long ago, made the mistake of trying this with truffle ganache, which is far more forgiving than whipped cream - it got way too soft and still had hardly any of the flavour.

If you're able to adjust the water in a recipe then you can use liqueurs, but usually you're better off buying some concentrated oils or extracts, which tend to pack as much punch in a teaspoon than a full cup of the liqueur. Some are easily found in grocery stores (almond extract, mint, etc.) and others you can get from specialty vendors like Lor'Ann.

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Theoretically, it should be possible to add water to cream and whip, until you reach the limit of whippability. In practice, I have never seen true pastrymaking dairy cream being supplied to home cooks (it has 48% fat), only standard whipping cream at 33% fat. And the limit of whippability is 30% fat. So, just as you said, even a very small dilution will mess up the foam. –  rumtscho Jun 14 at 21:36
    
You can create stable foams including alcoholic ingredients with stabilizers and a cream whipper, if you're dead-set on using amaretto or other liqueurs. Methylcellulose (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methyl_cellulose) is a stabilizer that I've seen recommended for these applications. Simply using almond extract would be the expedient solution, though. –  logophobe Jun 14 at 22:40
    
You don't need a cream whipper for this, just a stabilizer. Methocel may work, but so will any other alcohol-tolerant e-number, many of which are considerably less expensive. Even corn starch will handle alcohol pretty well. But that's getting you farther away from either a mousse or whipped cream... it ends up being more like a gel. –  Aaronut Jun 15 at 1:23
    
@rumtscho FYI, 48% fat cream (double cream) is readily available in pretty much every supermarket in the UK. We also have clotted cream, which is 55%, but that's too thick to whip. Just something to file away in the databanks :) –  ElendilTheTall Jun 15 at 17:00
    
@ElendilTheTall: I believe that's very much a UK thing; it's definitely not widely available in either Canada or the USA, and from what I've read from various answers and comments on this site, it's not common in most of Europe either. I guess there's just not a lot of demand for it... what would the typical home cook do with 48% or clotted cream? Maybe there's some popular UK dish that uses it? –  Aaronut Jun 15 at 18:26

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