2. Use cornstarch. Beat to soft peaks, then add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch for every cup of cream.
3. Add nonfat dry milk powder to the cream before whipping. This is one I haven’t tried, and frankly I’d worry that the powdered milk would leave a discernible taste, but I don’t know.
4. Use cream cheese. Whip the cream to soft peaks, then whip in 2 teaspoons of room-temperature cream cheese until you get stiff peaks. This might change the flavor of your cream, but not necessarily in a bad way. Depends on what you’re after.
5. Add piping gel. It’s a cake decorating product that’s also used to stabilize whipped cream. Caution: It can add a lot of sweetness. To mix, follow the directions on the container.
6. Use a commercial stabilizer. The most popular one — actually the only one I’ve ever seen — is Dr. Oetker brand Whipit. The listed ingredients are dextrose, modified cornstarch and tricalcium phosphate.
7. Strain already-whipped cream to make it thicker, using the same principle that gives Greek-style yogurt more body than the regular kind. Whip the cream, spoon it into a strainer or colander lined with several thicknesses of cheesecloth, then cover with more cheesecloth and refrigerate for one to two days. The cream will weep liquid and become condensed.
8. Use a marshmallow! Beat one cup of cream to soft peaks. Microwave a marshmallow for about five seconds, until it’s fairly well melted, then quickly add it to the cream as you beat to stiff peaks.
9. And finally: Possibly the most common, most effective but riskiest method is to use gelatin. I say risky because if you mess up, your cream ends up studded with chewy little pellets of rubbery gelatin that will render it useless. (Yup, I’ve done that.) Different chefs and cooks have their pet methods for this, so the best advice I can give is to Google “stabilize whipped cream” and “gelatin” and pick a technique that looks good to you.
Good luck! I admire your drive to create your own signature knock-your-socks-off cupcake. Once you’ve solved your whipped cream problem and your recipe is perfect, let me know which of these ideas — if any — you used. A sample taste wouldn’t hurt, either. For scientific purposes, of course.