Coconut Milk Whipped Cream Is A Serious Dessert Game Changer

Coconut's distinctive flavor can be divisive, but for its fans — as well as those with dietary restrictions — the fruit offers an exciting and creamy base for whipped cream. Naturally sweet and a favorite in dessert recipes, the dairy alternative whips into a fluffy topping. For creative bakers and diners with a sweet tooth, this is a huge opportunity to refresh classic sweets.

It will have a slightly different flavor compared to traditional whipped cream since coconut has a unique aroma and taste. But with the addition of powdered sugar and vanilla, you'll be able to evoke the same sweetness and add aromatic notes. Depending on the accompanying dessert, you can magnify the tropical treat by pairing it with other coconut-centric sweets or tone it down a touch with a strong complementary flavor like chocolate or fruit.

To make it, you'll want to get out a mixer or egg beaters, as well as a can of coconut milk or cream. The trick to successfully aerating the liquid is to chill the cream (as in full-fat coconut milk — not the light version) overnight in the fridge — though you can also freeze the metal beaters and bowl if you so choose. The natural fats in the vegan ingredient allow it to capture air and lighten, just like heavy cream. Similarly, choose a powdered sweetener, rather than a liquid like maple syrup, to ensure you get the right consistency.

Making the best coconut milk whipped cream

Though the steps for making the vegan whipped cream are straightforward, there are a handful of tips to note. First, set aside any separated liquid you find in your chilled can for another project. This mixture is all about the lipids, and the watery parts of the coconut milk are going to drag down your topping.

While the fluffy dessert can handle a ton of beating without congealing into butter, it also won't achieve quite the same firm texture you'd get with heavy cream. It keeps best in the fridge since this helps the fats remain firm, so just give it another mix if you notice any deflating. Knowing the non-dairy foam is more vulnerable to melting, we suggest pairing it with chilled desserts and drinks, rather than hot cakes, coffee, or summer barbecue sides.

If you've chilled cans of cream overnight before using, you should see results after a few minutes of mixing. But to troubleshoot an uncooperative batch, you can add a teaspoon or so of vegan-friendly tapioca starch to thicken and stabilize the mixture. Less is more when it comes to adding starch, though, because you risk the whipped cream becoming gummy. The whipped cream should remain airy for a few days, which means you'll have time to sweeten breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Great pairings for coconut whipped cream

Since one of the delicious ingredients that will change the way you make pancakes is coconut flour, we suggest turning up the volume by topping the most important meal of the day with a scoop of whipped cream. Toasted coconut flakes, too, if you're a maximalist. For a toasty complementary flavor, blend in pandan.

Other breakfast foods like oatmeal, fruit salad, and French toast will also taste better with the decadent addition, as will cold drinks like iced coffee, chai, bubble tea, and matcha tea lattes. Consider adding cinnamon, pumpkin spice, or matcha to the coconut for more complexity before blending or dusting it on top. If you're all about the chocolate-coconut combination, infuse the cream with cocoa powder before pairing it with a mocha, brownie, or chocolate sorbet.

Savvy cooks know you can make pumpkin pie dairy-free with two coconut swaps. We'd guess the pie will taste even better with a hefty serving of the nutty whipped cream. Or pair it with key lime or lemon meringue pie, two tart desserts that can cut through the heaviness of the milk. For a cocktail-inspired approach, infuse the cream with an alcohol of your choice  — we recommend rum — and then partner it with pineapple for a piña colada-like dessert. A tequila whipped cream and a sprinkle of flaky salt alongside a citrus dessert can also evoke a margarita.