What is Chantilly Cream?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Chantilly cream is quite familiar to most Americans, who tend to think of it simply as whipped cream. Most American versions of whipped cream add both sugar and vanilla to the cream, which is essentially the same thing. This cream is credited to the chef Francois Vatel.

A spoonful of Chantilly cream.
A spoonful of Chantilly cream.

At the Chateau de Chantilly, Vatel supervised a huge banquet for Louis XIV and a reported 2,000 guests, where he created the now famous cream for use in pastries. Sadly, Vatel would not be able to enjoy the cream's later popularity; his despair over the slow cooking of the fish resulted in him committing suicide later that night.

Most Americans know Chantilly cream as whipped cream.
Most Americans know Chantilly cream as whipped cream.

The creation of Chantilly cream is thus tainted by Vatel’s suicide. Yet few remember its origins, or if they do, prepare the cream because of its popularity, and as a way to honor the terribly misguided genius of Vatel. Today, it is used throughout Europe in various pastries like eclairs, cream puffs, and it also may top ice cream.

In the US, Chantilly cream is relatively standard. American cooks may also use the cream in French or Italian inspired pastries, or to top, fill, or frost numerous types of cakes. The Fruit Basket cake, a golden cake, is layered with fruit and cream, and generally also frosted with the whipped cream. Many an angel food cake is also dressed with the cream, and the traditional sundae or banana split is usually topped with sweetened whipped cream.

To many chefs, the key to making Chantilly cream is to not over-whip the cream, which can result in turning it into butter. Often, sweetened cream is made with powdered sugar, but many purists insist on using superfine white sugar instead. If not beaten precisely, this can result in the Chantilly cream having a grainy texture.

It’s difficult to instruct people on how long to beat cream in order to achieve the right texture, since cream can vary, as can mixing speeds. Some whipping cream is made with stabilizers, which make the cream whip faster, but may have a bit of an aftertaste. Whipping cream without stabilizers should be whipped only to the point where soft peaks form.

Many simply substitute dessert topping for Chantilly cream in recipes. Alternately, one can purchase this cream in cans, as canned whipped cream. Both will not have the flavor of cream that is freshly made, though they are certainly less time-consuming.

Sugar and vanilla are added to cream to make Chantilly cream.
Sugar and vanilla are added to cream to make Chantilly cream.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Is it possible to use chantilly cream to make a meringue cream for a rum cream cake? I found a recipe that calls for meringue on a rum cream cake, and all I've got is whipped cream. Will that work?


One of the best things I've ever tried was a cake made with a whiskey chantilly cream. I can't even tell you how amazing the mixture of the whiskey flavor with the sweetness and lightness of the cream...mmm, it makes me hungry just thinking about it. I've never seen another cake like that (I actually got it in a coffeehouse somewhere), so I guess it was just the owner's specialty, but it was truly fantastic. I love all kinds of chantilly cream cake frosting, but that one was far above and beyond anything I'd ever tried.


What a fascinating article. I had no idea that there was such a tragedy in the origins of chantilly cream. I would actually have had no idea what chantilly cream was, except for the fact that my aunt always used to make chantilly cream cake, with chantilly cream frosting.

She taught me how to make a moist chantilly cream, and could never stand for pre-made whipped cream. She always called them "evaporated cream" although I have no idea why -- maybe they came in evaporated form in her childhood? I don't know.

Anyway, I do still prefer to use chantilly cream to frosting or Rediwhip cream; and now that I know the history of it I'm even more glad that I use it.

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