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Coconut-Milk Whipped Cream

By Cook's Illustrated Published January 2012

Is it possible to create dairy-free whipped "cream" using the thick layer of coconut fat from the top of a can of regular coconut milk?

When we heard that it was possible to make dairy-free whipped “cream” using the thick layer of coconut fat from the top of a can of regular (not low-fat) coconut milk, our curiosity was piqued. Our test batches, although ­not as lofty as true whipped cream, had a pleasant mild coconut flavor and enough velvety billows to make us think that this unlikely ingredient could provide an acceptable dairy-free alternative. With a little more experimentation, we came up with two tips for success. First, the creamy part of coconut milk isn’t always separated from the watery part; we found that refrigerating the can for a few hours helps form two distinct layers. Second, it’s important to skim off only the very thick, fatty portion of the milk, or the cream won’t whip properly.

To make 1 cup of whipped coconut cream, chill a mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer for at least 20 minutes. Using a spoon, skim the top layer of cream from a 10-ounce can of coconut milk (about 3/4 cup of cream) and place it in the chilled bowl with 1½ teaspoons of sugar, ½ teaspoon of vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Beat on low speed until small bubbles form, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to high and continue beating until the cream thickens and light peaks form, about two minutes. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to four hours.