The sweet, creamy, frothy, delicate, immaculately white, whipped cream known as Chantilly Cream is eaten worldwide, but its origins are shrouded in mystery and legend in France…
History of Chantilly Cream
The invention of Chantilly whipped cream is often attributed to the great French chef Vatel who worked in the kitchens of the Château de Chantilly. In April 1671 he was commissioned to organise a party for the Duc de Condé, owner of Chantilly, and his cousin Louis XIV at the Chateau. The party lasted from 23 to 25 April, sumptuous meals were served, illuminations, hunting and lavish entertainment were organised. For the famed Vatel however, things did not go so well. There were problems in the kitchen and with supplies and it is said that unable to bear the indignity of failure, Vatel committed suicide before the party was over.
Legend has it that one of the problems was the non delivery of cream for the dishes Vatel had planned. In order to give volume to the cream supplies he had, Vatel created Chantilly cream. But – that is not true, it is a myth say historians.
The recipe for whipped frothy cream goes back much further. Recipe books from many years before feature a cream with vanilla and egg white “light like snow”. Not until a century after that famous party would the name Chantilly Cream be applied and the recipe would include sugar as we know it today.
In the late 18th Century, the Hamlet of Chantilly was created in the grounds of the Chateau. It was inspired by the Prince de Condé’s desire to honour a natural, healthy and simple life – not unlike the little farm at Versailles where Marie Antoinette also hankered after a less complicated life.
The Chantilly hamlet consisted of a dairy, mill, stables, a little inn, barns and cottages. Although seemingly simple and peasant like from the outside, inside they retained princely dimensions. Concerts were held there and grand dinners. The rich and famous flocked to see this novelty and enjoy the Prince’s hospitality including the Tsar of Russia to be and his entourage. One of them wrote about “the cream Chantilly, Chantilly! This leaves a great deal of mystery between ‘shaped creams’ of the seventeenth century and whipped cream… a sweet cream”. I was lucky enough to see the chefs in Vatel’s old kitchen at the Chateau prepare cream for the restaurant – it looked like hard work!
The name stuck and is now known the world over as Chantilly cream…
How to make Chantilly Cream
You’ll need an electric whisk or plenty of stamina to whip the cream by hand into the foamy texture that’s required.
At a demonstration at the Chateau of Chantilly, the chefs whipped the cream for almost ten minutes by hand! It is said that a whipped cream can be considered to be “crème Chantilly” when the delicate peaks and designs hold their shapes after whisking.
Top Tip: The quality of Chantilly cream relies on a perfect, accurate whisking and if you do it too much, then it can turn the cream to butter!
Chantilly Cream recipe
284ml/10fl oz whipping cream
1 vanilla pod
Icing sugar, to taste
Pour the cream into a bowl.
Cut the vanilla pod in half lengthways with a sharp knife, scrape out the seeds and add them to the cream.
Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Add icing sugar, to taste, and mix in gently.
See more great cake histories: Great French Cakes; Traditional of the Saint Honoré cake; Madeleine Cakes; The Finger of Charles Quint Cake!