Ever frosted a cake in whipped cream? It's decadently delicious, but woefully unsuited to anything other than a sloppy layer on top of a cake in a pan. I've tried piping it in the past and had disasterous and flurpy results. My Rachel requested white cake with raspberry filling and whipped cream frosting for her birthday, so I went in search of a way to stabilize the cream so that it would hold up. This recipe came from the Lion House Cookbook via a couple of friends who pointed me at it, and it worked very well. Obviously, I still had to refrigerate the cake before serving it, but the piping held up well as did the general shape, without nasty texture issues. I was afraid the gelatin would make it stiff, but it really didn't - just a very subtle extra thickness. I put the cake together about 3 hours in advance of serving, and according to the recipe, this cream will hold up for 4-5 days before falling apart.
Stabilized Whipping Cream
1 envelope (1 T.) unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
3 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 t. vanilla
Place a glass or metal bowl and your beaters in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small soucepan, combine gelatin with water. Let stand until thick (it'll turn opaque and with visible crystals). Stir constantly over low heat until just dissolved and the solution is clear and runny. Make sure you scrape down all the little crystals around the edge and that they are also dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly but do not allow to thicken.
Pull your bowl and beaters out and whip the cream, sugar and vanilla until just beginning to thicken. On low speed, gradually add the gelatin in a thin stream, then beat on high until cream is thick. Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.
**I didn't scrape down the little crystals on the edge, and I dumped the gelatin in all at once. This resulted in the formation of a few little globbies in the cream. I was the only one that noticed them, but they did clog the tip on the first go around of piping - ugh. So make sure you follow what I wrote instead of what I did and you should be fine :).