This holiday season, you definitely don't want to be whipping cream at the last minute. Try this make-ahead hack instead.

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When it comes to topping pie, there are two teams: team ice cream and team whipped cream. I am team whipped cream, because the truth is that if there is ice cream on my plate I will probably eat more of that than the pie. Ice cream is its own dessert, not a topping... and for pie, we need a topping.

Sometimes, though, the situation calls for a topping with a little more elegance than a simple whipped cream. For those times, I whip up (pun intended!) a batch of mascarpone whipped cream, which adds a rich, tangy heft that makes the whole thing feel just a little more special.

Mascarpone is a rich Italian spreadable cheese similar to cream cheese (it's usually sold near the cream cheese in the grocery store, as well). You may recognize it as one of the main ingredients in tiramisu, but it is generally used to add flavor and texture to both sweet and savory dishes. Mixed with heavy cream, it whips up nicely into a topping that not only tastes delicious, but also holds its texture for about 24 hours. If you've ever made whipped cream, then come back a few hours later when you're ready to serve dessert, you know how annoying it is to drag out a mixer and make all that noise to re-whip your now-deflated cream.

To make this more stabilized, more elegant mascarpone whipped cream, simply combine your tub of mascarpone with heavy whipping cream; I typically use an entire 8-ounce container of mascarpone with a pint of heavy cream. If you'd like, you can add a pinch or two of sugar to increase the sweetness. Then whip the way you would normally whip cream, whether that means by hand with a whisk, with a hand mixer, or in a stand mixer. I like to whip it until it holds a soft peak, meaning that the cream gently drapes, rather than standing up in stiff, tall peaks, but you should do what pleases you.

Once you've reached a level of whipped-ness that makes you happy, simply transfer the mixture to a container or cover the bowl you used and store it in the refrigerator. When you're ready to serve, simply set out your decadent rich topping and slather all your desserts in the stuff, you might even like it better than ice cream.