Chill a metal mixing bowl and the beaters to your mixer.
Meanwhile, add water to a small microwave safe bowl and sprinkle gelatin on top.
Allow gelatin to soften for a minute. (This is called "blooming".)
Whisk water and gelatin together, then microwave for 15 or 20 seconds.
Stir until gelatin is completely dissolved.
Allow mixture to come to room temperature.
Meanwhile, beat cream, confectioner's sugar and vanilla until it's very softly whipped and you start to see the beater trails.
Continue beating, and pour in cooled gelatin mixture in a steady stream.
Beat until whipping cream is stiff. (But don't beat too long!)
Use immediately or refrigerate for later use.
This whipping cream should be spread immediately.
It will then "set up" like gelatin or jello.
The consistency is different than regular whipped cream, not quite as soft.
Once it is set up, it will no longer be spreadable, because of the gelatin. So be sure to spread it right away, and then refrigerate.
This whipping cream will hold its shape for several days.