Strawberries and whipped cream are a classic pairing, with the delicately sweet cream flavor highlighting the sweet and slightly tart strawberry flavor. While you can enjoy them by simply dipping a whole strawberry in a bowl of whipped cream, they can also be arranged decoratively. This might be a good option if you serve passed foods at a dinner party, or simply want your food spread to look more appealing. The whipped cream should be added so guests can easily eat the strawberry and whipped cream in one bite.
Wash the strawberries thoroughly. Leave the leaves intact. Choose strawberries with relatively flat bottoms so they can stand upright on a plate.
Cut the strawberries into fourths, stopping just short of cutting all the way through so the strawberry stays intact but will open up along the cuts to reveal the center. Spread them open slightly to provide a well for adding the whipped cream.
Stand the strawberries upright on a plate or tray, with the leaves sticking out slightly from the base to resemble feet. If the bases aren't perfectly flat, you can shave a bit from the bottom to level the base.
Mix heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract in an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. It takes 1 cup of heavy whipping cream to yield 1 1/2 to 2 cups of whipped cream; use roughly 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of clear vanilla extract for every cup of whipping cream. Mix piping gel with the finished whipped cream to stabilize it so it holds shape longer. Add about 2 tablespoons of piping gel for every 1 1/2 to 2 cups of finished whipped cream.
Insert a star decorating tip in a decorating bag, and fill the bag with fresh whipped cream. The star-shaped opening on the tip creates decorative ridges in the whipped cream.
Place the decorating tip inside the strawberries. Squeeze the decorating bag with medium pressure to fill the strawberries with whipped cream. Pull the bag straight up as the whipped cream flows while moving the tip in small circles to swirl the whipped cream. Stop squeezing the bag about half an inch above the strawberry tips to cut off the flow of whipped cream. Lift the bag straight away from the strawberry. Repeat with the remaining strawberries.
Squeeze small dots of whipped cream in a ring around the edge of the plate. Hold the tip about 1/4 inch above the plate, and squeeze to make a star-shaped dot. Stop squeezing when you achieve a star roughly the size of a quarter. Reposition the tip about 1/2 inch away from the first star -- a quarter is roughly 1 inch in diameter -- and pipe a second whipped cream star. Repeat this process around the entire plate or tray.
- If you prefer not to cut and fill the strawberries, you can stand whole strawberries upright on a tray with the pointed tip facing up. Squeeze the swirls of whipped cream in the open gaps between the strawberry tips, stopping at the same height as the strawberries.
- Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images