Coconut whipped cream is a dairy-free alternative to whipping cream, and my oh my, is it delicious! Who would’ve thought you could make homemade vegan whipped cream from canned coconut?
Regardless, this has been a staple in our household for many years and is regularly featured in our vegan dessert recipes.
In theory, whipped coconut cream is easy to make; however, there are a few traps that will likely lead to failure in the kitchen if you don’t have a plan.
In this post, we’re going to share some incredibly essential tips and tricks to ensure you get the best results, as well as a simple recipe for you to test. But first, let’s set some expectations.
A quick note on the ethics of coconut products
Before we get into the content, we wanted to mention something that not many people are aware of when it comes to coconut products.
Harvesting coconuts is not exactly the most ethical industry, so you want to make sure you’re supporting brands who aren’t exploiting people or animals—although this has proven to be challenging to trace.
Concerning the monkey labour issues, finding coconut products that don’t exploit animals is near impossible to confirm. Organic certification is more concerned about the chemicals used in production and doesn’t consider the wellbeing of monkeys.
As a general rule of thumb, most of the monkey labour is based in Thailand. So one approach is not to buy coconut cream from Thailand to decrease your chances of supporting exploitative practices. However, as there’s little to no transparency, we’re flying in the dark.
Can you replace conventional whipped cream with coconut cream?
While whipped coconut cream is a viable alternative to dairy whipping cream, it’s not a direct replacement. Here’s where it’s different:
- As you’d expect, it has a mild coconut taste.
- It doesn’t hold as well at room temperature compared to dairy whipped cream.
- As we don’t use highly processed ingredients like vegan butter and refined sugar, coconut whipped cream is much healthier than conventional whipping cream.
- Depending on how you prepare it, coconut whipped cream can be light and fluffy or thick and decadent.
Now that you know what to expect when using coconut whipped cream, let’s break down what to look for when buying canned coconut products. Please don’t skip this step as it will make or break your recipe!
Crucial tips when buying canned coconut cream or milk for whipping
Not using the best canned coconut cream will lead to curdling, splitting or a runny finish—which is less than ideal!
As you can see from the two images above, one is chunkier and separated coconut cream and the other is smooth and thick. The one of the right has a thickening agent (guar gum), whereas the one on the left is purely just coconut cream.
Comparing the two, you would ideally get a can that has the consistency of the one on the right for better and better results.
For these reasons, it’s worth spending time upfront to find a reliable brand that you can trust. Let’s break this down.
Canned coconut cream, as the name suggests, is a can of thick cream; conversely, coconut milk is a liquid.
While canned coconut cream is becoming more available, coconut milk is far more accessible across different regions. So if you can, go for full-fat coconut cream. You want full fat, as this will give you a better chance of getting a thick cream throughout the whole can.
Even if you get full fat, there are no guarantees—as you still might get some separated liquid at the bottom of the can.
If you can’t get your hands on canned coconut cream, then go with full-fat coconut milk (canned, not carton).
Important: be sure that you refrigerate overnight, at least 18-24 hours for your coconut milk to firm up for whipping.
After refrigeration, open up the can immediately, and you’ll find a thick layer of coconut cream formulated at the top of the can while coconut water sits at the bottom.
Scoop out the coconut cream for whipping, and you can use the coconut water in a smoothie.
The ideal can of coconut cream will be around 80%- 90% cream and 10%-20% liquid. You can see in the image above, that the ratio is ideal.
Having the right expectations
Like any product, your go-to brand of canned coconut cream may not always perform. It could come down to the humidity and overall temperature in your kitchen/pantry, or it could merely be a dodgy batch from the supplier.
In any case, these things are out of your control, so please don’t be discouraged if you don’t get the thick cream you desired.
Serving coconut whipped cream
Your whipped coconut cream is best served right away. It will hold well for a few hours at room temperature (depending on how warm it is of course), but any longer and it will start to become soft and turn into more of a liquid consistency (thick coconut milk).
If you don’t eat your whipped cream in one sitting, you can always pop it back in the fridge to eat later. If it gets too firm after refrigeration, you can re-whip it to fluff it back up before serving.
Decadent ways to enjoy your vegan whipped cream
You can confidently use whipped coconut cream where you’d typically use dairy whipping cream.
Some of our favourite options include having coconut cream on top of pancakes, chocolate mousse, tiramisu, chestnut puree, or simply with berries.
You could step it up a little and add coconut whipped cream to brownies and cakes. We love adding chocolate to the cream to create a super decadent ganache.
While you can use whipped coconut cream with layered cakes, just remember that it doesn’t fair to well at room temperature, so you have two options to mitigate this.
The first option is to prep your cake just before it’s ready to serve. This could mean having your cake layers and toppings pre-made hours or days before plating up to save time.
The second option is to apply the coconut cream to your cake in advance and refrigerate the finished cake for 12-24 hours. You’ll find that your cream will firm up and resemble something more like a frosting.
We’ve read about foodies trying to add stabilisers to the coconut cream in an attempt to make it a frosting, but we haven’t seen any examples that yield consistent results.
The good news is that coconut cream or not, most folks refrigerate cakes and eat slices over time, so there shouldn’t be much of a compromise here.
What equipment is needed for making coconut whipped cream?
Providing you have the perfect brand of canned coconut cream, all you need is a mixing bowl and spoon for whipping up your fluffy cream.
If you’re dealing with coconut milk or canned coconut cream that isn’t creamy, then you’ll need an electric mixer to get your desired result.
Liquid and powdered sweeteners
We tend to avoid refined sugar in our recipes, so we use maple syrup to sweeten our cream, or omit sweeteners altogether.
Maple syrup will make your cream a little runnier when initially whipping, but it will firm up after refrigeration (allowing a minimum of 2-3 hrs). Also, if you’re wondering, maple syrup doesn’t significantly change the white colour of your coconut cream—just make sure you mix it through thoroughly.
This recipe only requires three simple ingredients; coconut cream, maple syrup and vanilla extract. The best part is it takes next to no effort!
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