By Carl Hanson
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Hold up, people. You may have noticed a lack of canned whipped cream on store shelves. It's not your imagination. America's in the midst of a whipped cream shortage.

See, in late August of this year, an industrial plant blew up in Florida. At that plant, they made nitrous oxide, the gas that makes visiting the dentist so much fun. Of course, nitrous oxide is also the stuff that blows fluffy, delicious whipped cream out of aerosol cans and on to holiday trifles, pies, and steaming cups of hot chocolate.

Gingerbread Trifle | Photo by Allrecipes

With nitrous oxide suddenly in short supply, companies that make canned whipped cream were forced to put production on hold. Fast forward to the holidays, and the shelves are bare.

Yes, a whipped cream shortage at the holidays is cruel, like a lumpa coal in the stocking. But honestly, unless there's a cow shortage crippling the country, you can always have whipped cream for the holidays. Because it's super easy to whisk up a quick batch of the fluffy stuff at home.

In fact, our very own Vanessa Greaves has gathered together no fewer than "eight different ways to achieve handmade whipped cream perfection, with tips for choosing the right method for you." Vanessa lays down a few basic guidelines and then leads you through the different ways to whip it good, from classic (whisking) to ingenious (cocktail shaker).

Because without fluffy clouds of whipped cream, hot chocolate is just cold, naked sadness in a mug.

Photo by Meredith