In a chilled large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whip the cream until it just begins to thicken. Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla and beat until soft, but firm, peaks form. If using as a frosting, it is ready at this point.
If you want to pipe designs, whip until stiffer peaks form, but do not overbeat. If it shows clumps and lumps, it is overwhipped. Simply stir in some liquid cream to smooth it out. The frosting should be used immediately.
Makes about 4 cups.
Reprinted with permission from ©Dede Wilson, The Birthday Cake Book: 75 Recipes for Candle-Worthy Creations, published by Harvard Common Press click for book review
more dessert recipes more chef and cookbook recipes