Fruit pie, whipped cream, and why the calories are not always where you think
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Fruit pie, whipped cream, and why the calories are not always where you think

I went yesterday to a barbecue organized by the parents of my eldest daughter’s class and brought a plum tart to share – a traditional Swiss summer pie. About half of it had been eaten when my husband sprayed generously the remaining slices with unsweetened whipped cream. The whipped cream matches well the bitterness of the plums and is also a traditional topping.

This action created a commotion among the moms and nobody took another slice. The consensus among the parents was: whipped cream is too fattening.

Here is the picture of the pie below. What do you think?

Would YOU eat it?


Consider well: the thick layer of whipped cream, the healthy fruits, the custard and the crust. Then, stack it up against your dietary goals. Then decide. Would you eat it with the whipped cream? And how about without? (Write your answer in the comments before reading on!)

I don’t know about you, but I will tell you my answer: YES! I eat it. And with the whipped cream. But then I am a nursing mom struggling to get enough calories in my diet – and I love plum tart.

Whether you should eat it depends on your taste and diet. However, if you would eat it without the whipped cream, then, by all means, eat it with the cream too. You see, it tastes better. Plus, if you start worrying about calories, there are other calories you should be considering first, to wit the crust and the custard filling. Custard contains plenty of sugar and fat, especially when made with cream and a lot of fat finds its way into the crust too.

Here is the list of ingredients for one 12-inches tart (makes 12 small slices):


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 – 2/3 cup water


1/4 cup ground almond
20 (about 700 g) fresh prunes – pitted and quartered
2 tbsp sugar


1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2/3 cup half and half
1 large egg
3 large egg yolks
1 tbsp kirsch

If you are using Shop’NCook, you find out easily that it yields more than 200 calories per serving.

In comparison, the thick topping of whipped cream corresponds to:

1/8 cup whipped cream

per serving and contributes only 19 kcal, meaning less than 10% of the total number of calories. You don’t believe me? Here is the proof:

The conclusion of this post is not that you can eat as much whipped cream as you want with tarts. The parents at the barbecue were not wrong thinking whipped cream is a fattening food. But you see, there is whipped cream – and whipped cream. A subtle hint in the story was: spray. My husband was using a whipped cream aerosol.

The cream in an aerosol is expanded by compressed nitrous oxide gas to 4 times its volume, meaning it is mostly formed of air. In comparison, usual whipped cream expands to just two times its original volume. Also, the cream in a spray can be cut with up to 30% of milk. At equal volume, normal whipped cream has 2.5 times more calories than the spray type. It is good to be aware of the difference when deciding what to eat – or not to eat.

You can find the complete recipes for the Swiss plum tart and pate brisee dough on the online recipe database and in the Direct Access panel of Shop’NCook.


  1. Patrick Smith says:


    While I’m sure the tart would taste great without the whipped cream I am certain that it would taste better. Sure there is an increase of calories, but I suspect that most of the calories come from the custard and crust.

  2. […] Mathilde Rufenacht: Fruit pie, whipped cream, and why the calories are not always where you think at Shop’NCook Blog. She explains what happened when her well-intentioned husband put whipped […]

  3. […] Rufenacht presents Fruit pie, whipped cream, and why the calories are not always where you think posted at Shop’NCook blog, saying, “This is what happened when my husband, well […]

  4. Avoidance of fat is silly. Natural, healthy fats such as olive oil, organic meat fats, or organic butter should be daily parts of any healthy diet. I do not know if canned whipped cream is healthy or not – I’d have to read the can to find out.

    The point you make, though, is mathematical. I am sending this blog post to the Natural Math mailing list as an excellent example of using your math and physics knowledge to make everyday decisions – or, in case of some people, failing to make sensible decisions. Thanks!

  5. Eileen Stavros says:

    I can’t think of anything that whipped cream actually makes taste better? If one thinks or likes whipped cream as a flavor enhancement, then just eat whipped cream on it’s own. Personally, the fruit in the pie likely had all the flavor & always seems to for me, so I now always pass on whipped cream or ice cream, which dull the fruit more than enhance it IME.

    But regarding whether it’s fattening or not, I would think more depends on your TOTAL calories for the day, the week, & so on. You can fool yourself if you think that “this” serving isn’t all that much fat, but what else did or will you eat did you eat that day that also has fat in it. Do this sort of denial of accumulated fat day after day, year after year & pretty soon you’re likely to have a weight & or health problem, problem. Learning to measure one’s food isn’t difficult, but I’d bet that we’re too brainwashed with advertising that “taste” is what is “good” for us, vs. what is really nutrious, & so we think of measuring anything as a chore, or complicated or not needed. You are what you eat, so you choose. If this thinking is so far off, then why the obesity epidemic?