Place metal mixing bowl and wire whisk or whisk attachment in freezer for 30 minutes before making whipped cream.
Combine heavy cream, vanilla and powdered sugar into cold bowl. Using wire whisk or mixer, beat cream to stiff peaks. If not using immediately, cover and refrigerate. After using as frosting, it is best to keep the entire cake or pastry refrigerated.
Berry or Apricot: Beat cream to soft peaks. Add 1/3 cup chilled fruit puree or seedless jam and continue to whip to stiff peaks.
Lemon: Beat cream to soft peaks. Add in 1/2 cup chilled lemon curd and continue to whip to stiff peaks.
Chocolate: After pulling bowl out of the freezer, add vanilla, 3 tablespoons powdered sugar, 1/4-cup powdered sugar, and 2 to 3 tablespoons of cream. Stir to create a thick paste. Add remaining cream and stir to combine. Whip to stiff peaks.
About Stabilizing Whipped Cream
Whipped cream alone, doesn't last very long, will fall, and may become watery. The easiest way to prevent that from happening is to stabilize the cream. There are several methods: from gelatin, which may be an issue for vegetarians and those who keep kosher, to marshmallows. Try one of these methods to stabilize your whipped cream for frosting your cakes:
Option 1: Add 2 teaspoons of nonfat dry milk powder for every cup of heavy cream to cream before whipping.
Option 2: Sift 1 teaspoon cornstarch into powdered sugar for every cup of heavy cream used.
Option 3: Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of unflavored powdered gelatin into 2 tablespoons of cold water and stir to combine. Let mixture set for 5 minutes. Heat in microwave 10 to 15 seconds until gelatin is completely dissolved. Let cool to room temperature. Whip cream to soft peaks and pour gelatin mixture into whipped cream in a thin stream, whipping continuously. Continue to whip to desired peaks.
Option 4: Whip heavy cream to desired peaks. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of agar (vegetable gelatin) for every cup of cream used, while continuing to whip. Continue to whip to desired peaks.
Option 5: Whip heavy cream to soft peaks. Melt 1 regular marshmallow for every cup of cream used (about 5 seconds in the microwave). Add melted marshmallow to cream and continue to whip to stiff peaks.
Option 6: Add 2 tablespoons of instant dry pudding (in whatever flavor desired, flavor would be muted, but still present.) to heavy cream before whipping.
Option 7: Add 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese to heavy cream before whipping. Whip to desired peaks.